A Doll's House Act 1 Analysis

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Ibsen, A Doll’s House from p. 9 (‘Nora [gently]. Poor Christine, you are a widow.) to ‘Nora...It was like being a man.’

This extract of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen is possibly the most important extract of Act 1. Through this section the audience is not only introduced to Mrs Christine Linde and Nora’s first discourse with a lady of her class, but the idea of Nora’s growing desire to rebel. During this conversation Ibsen displays the differing histories and the resulting personalities and ideals of two childhood friends. Plus, this section introduces the main conflict within the play and Ibsen’s reflections of the time.

Firstly, the scene opens with a discussion regarding Christine’s status as a widower and how her husband left her
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Christine mentions that Nora, “know so little of the burdens and troubles of life.”, “Small household cares and that sort of thing!” (Act 1, p. 12). This remark makes Nora realise that Christine, along with most other people in her life, feel themselves superior to her. Christine even goes as far to say, “You are a child…” (Act 1, p. 12). Christine’s attitude to Nora at this moment is similar to how Torvald treats Nora. Throughout the play, he refers to her by pet names - “squirrel” (Act 1, p. 4), “helpless little mortal” (Act 2, p. 45), “little singing bird” (Act 3, p. 61). These names serve as a constant reminder that Torvald is the authority in the household, and Nora is legally his. Many of his pet names are animalistic, “skylark” (Act 1, p. 5), “squirrel”, “Miserable creature” (Act 3, p. 59). These names aim to dehumanise Nora, removing her rights and reminding her that she is inferior to her husband and males in general. By referring to Nora as a “little singing bird”, it becomes clear that Torvald sees her as fragile, a merry thing that nests and belongs in the house - the house symbolising a cage. Nora recognises these diminutives and later uses them to describe herself in order to gain Torvald’s favour; “If your little squirrel were to ask you for something…”, “Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you would be nice, and do what she wants.” …show more content…
For one, due to Christine’s years in the world of work and her lack of children, her mindset is mature and realistic; whereas Nora has kept a childish naivety due to her playing with her children and spending most of her time in the house, hidden away from the world. This is especially evident when Nora jokingly suggests she acquired the £250 from “some other admirer.” (Act 1, p. 13). Christine attempts to make serious of the conversation, saying “It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge…” (Act 1, p. 13). Christine understands the legal implications of loaning money, how a wife is required to get her husband’s permission, alongside how this information may change Nora and Torvald’s relationship in the future; however, Nora, although showing an understanding of how Torvald would react, jokingly explains when she plans to tell Torvald about the loan, stating “...when Torvald is no longer as devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled…”, completing her statement with “That time will never come.” (Act 1, p. 14). Her attitude towards the situation is quite immature as she does not seriously consider the future implications of her actions, instead she sweeps them aside and makes light of it all. She expects to be able to hid this from Torvald by acting how he wishes, dancing and dressing-up as if she were a child. This clearly indicates Nora’s

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