Henrik Ibsen "A Doll's House"; The character of Nora: she is either a heartless egoist unable to cope with her responsibilities, or an independent, fully realised modern human. Discuss.

Essay by frenchy88 March 2006

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The very plot of the play is the change that Nora goes through due to the events that occur. These changes of attitude and behaviour are what cause the audience to feel insecure about what to think of her. The play questions to which extent she is merely wearing masks to cover her independent self. The way Ibsen has written this play is such that we never know the whole truth about Nora. He also plays with the audience's compassion for her. I think this is exactly the discussion that Ibsen intended to create with his play.

At the beginning of "A Doll's House", Nora Helmer is shown as a childish and naive housewife with a knack for spending money. She seems to enjoy her role in their home, which we would call the "typical man-woman" relationship at that time. One might even go as far as to calling it a "parent-child" dialogue between her and her husband Torvald Helmer.

Torvald's usual characterization of Nora as a " little spendthrift" with a skill of melting his money in her hands clearly illustrates Nora's relation with her husband as being strikingly similar to that of a spoiled child and his wealthy parents. During the first act of the play Nora's personality is thoroughly established to the audience. "Who cares about them? They're strangers" is the first line to show that she's not only naïve but also selfish and heartless. She obviously does not care about what her actions might do to others. This is also shown through her conversation with Mrs. Linde. At Nora's first sight of her she very thoughtlessly bursts out "How you've changed Christine" meaning that she looks old. One might say that her disregard for others feelings continues throughout the play by comments like "but you...