A Doll’s House- Review Questions

1. Nora and Torvald’s relationship seems almost too common nowadays. The wife is detached from all outlets of life and liberty, and the husband drops subtle put-downs out of habit. Torvald says he loves Nora, yet forces her to live a life of secrecy, if she wants to live one at all. Even Christine was treated with contempt when she entered the story as a childhood friend of Nora’s. Christine and Krogstad, however, seemed more intimate, and simultaneously, more independent. Christine, now widowed, and Krogstad, raising his children alone, are forced to reconnect after Krogstad admitted that the fire within him never died, and that he still had feelings for Christine. Henrik Ibsen may have placed these two relationships together in the play to justify the actions of Nora, by comparing her relationship with Torvald with that of Christine and Krogstad.

2. Christine is a foil to Nora, because without Christine, Nora would have felt bitterly alone in her ordeal with the loan from Krogstad. Christine interrupts the situation of the Helmer’s household when she enters, rather unexpectedly. By foiling, or interfering, with Nora’s plan to get more and more ‘allowance’ from Torvald to pay off the loan in secret, Christine is the catalyst in the chain of events that ultimately leads to Nora’s brash decision to leave Torvald and their children behind in search of herself. Christine’s role in all of this, is that if it weren’t for Christine’s urging of Nora to tell Torvald, the issue would have been dealt with between Nora and Krogstad, and no one would ever have to have known about it. However, Christine pushed Nora to be frank and upfront about her financial decision, and, as earlier stated, was the catalyst to the chain reaction of the destruction of the household.

3. Krogstad is a foil to Torvald, in that he is a threat to Torvald’s reputation as the new bank manager, and as a man in society. Torvald is constantly obsessed with what effects something has on what people think of him, like when he states, “What will people think of a man who can be manipulated by his own wife?” Torvald is a man that conforms to the ills of society, and threatens the peace of many others. Krogstad is a threat to Torvald, in that, Krogstad has blackmail on him and his family, and will force Torvald to grant him back his position at the bank. Torvald is an overly weak character, and is self-centered to the core.

4. The Christmas Tree- The tree is the scene is an example of Nora’s desire to splurge, especially at Christmas. She felt that the decoration was needed in the house, but it was really to please herself. The tree had little significance other than to reinforce the fact that Nora isn’t very money-savvy.

The Lamp- The lamp, which was used for light, was put in the scene to reflect on something’s untapped potential. The lamp, which wasn’t often used, created an opportunity to read by, or light the room, but was rarely used at all. The lamp, wasting away unused, is a symbol of Nora’s inner character, withering away in her constricting marriage.

The Black Shawl- The black shawl is symbolic of the mask that Nora has to hide behind, similar to her relationship with Torvald. She isn’t able to express herself as if she has is capable of independent thinking, and is forced to hide behind the veil of her husband. The shawl is a symbol of the inability to be her own person, and Nora’s reliance upon Torvald to be able to interact with others.

5. Nora is a victim of her society, in the fact that the contemporary beliefs were that a woman had no right to be independent, and that the man was in control of all aspects of the family. Also, the ignorance of Torvald, as referenced when he made his comment about never being able to forgive the woman who plants the seeds of lies in their child’s brain, played a major role in shifting the thoughts of Nora into such a whirlwind. Torvald was to Nora, what a batterer is to his spouse, controlling and fearful, and the society saw it