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Act 1 Continued. From the beginning of Nora’s conversation with Mrs. Linde to Nora’s promise to talk to Torvald about finding Mrs. Linde work.

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From the beginning of Nora’s conversation with Mrs. Linde to Nora’s promise to talk to Torvald about finding Mrs. Linde work
  • Nora’s conversation with Mrs. Linde – establishes Nora’s childlike, self-centered, and insensitive character; conversation always comes back to Nora rather than talking about Linde’s problems
  • Nora’s self-centeredness futher demonstrated when she reveals that she failed to write after Linde’s husband died 3 years prior; only now does she express her sympathy – doing this now seems like a polite reflex
  • Nora does not filter her thoughts and expresses what’s on her mind whether appropriate or not (when she tactlessly comments that Linde’s looks have declined)
  • Nora recognizes that Linde is poor, but delights in the fact that they will have “pots and pots of money” – doesn’t recognize that such comments might be hurtful to her friend

If Nora is to develop as a character, what does she need to happen? From this conversation, she is naïve and childlike in many ways

  • Nora’s view of marriage: idealisitic; she clings to romantic notions of love/marriage
  • Linde’s view of marriage: realisitic; gained from the experience of being left with “not even an ounce of grief”
  • From Nora’s reaction to this comment, indicates to Linde (and to us) that Nora is sheltered and somewhat unsophisticated
  • The thread between Nora’s initial interactions with Torvald and Linde is the TENSION between Nora’s childish nature and her need to grow out of it.

Linde has had no doll-like existence, but seems poised to be Nora’s mentor on her journey to maturity

  • Linde – hardship after hardship; sacrifice after sacrifice is a far cry from the pampering Nora has received; BUT at the same time, both Linde’s and Nora’s marriages involve SACRIFICING themselves to another in exchange for money (Nora becomes Torvald’s plaything, while Linde marries for money to support her sick mother; Nora marries for her own welfare, while Linde marries for the welfare of her family
  • Theme of sacrificing personal desires, ambitions, and dignity shows up for both women

Note on style: Ibsen doesn’t portray rich, powerful, or socially significant people in his plays; he populates them with ordinary middle-class characters

  • Language is commonplace; dialogue uncomplicated and without rhetorical flourish
  • Language subtly conveys more than it seems to: Nora’s insensitivity to Linde’s plight manifests itself when she speaks of her 3 children immediately after learning Linde has none
  • Simple dialogue, yet full of loaded subtext – this sets Ibsen’s drama apart from earlier plays
Act 1 Continued: from Mrs. Linde’s accusation that Nora is still a child to exit of rank, Torvald, Linde
  • While the conversation between husband and wife seems one between an honest, happy couple in the beginning, in the second half we see that the household is full of SECRETS and DECEPTION.
  • Minor example – Nora eating macaroons – seems trivial – one can argue that the trivial nature of eating the macaroon is the very thing that makes the lie so troubling; the need to lie about something so insignificant speaks to the depths of both her guilt and the tension in her relationship with her hubby (she lies twice about this)

A far more serious case of deception – the loan Nora illicitly acquired in order to save hubby’s life; involves a breach of law (she is guilty of forgery)

  • We can understand and forgive her actions because she is motivated by noble and selfless intent
  • In both instances, Nora lies because of Torvald’s unfair stereotypes about gender roles; if he could accept his wife’s help and didn’t feel the need to have control over her every movement, Nora would not have to lie to him

When Nora suggests that her hubby give Linde a job, he again shows his biases concerning women’s proper roles by immediately assuming she’s a widow – shows that a proper married woman should not work outside the home

  • After Nora reveals her secret to Linde, Nora’s and Linde’s versions of femininity slowly begin to converge. With knowledge of Nora’s noble act, her character deepens
  • Their common experience of sacrifice for others unites them even though they come from different economic backgrounds
from entrance of nora s children to end of act 1
From entrance of Nora’s children to end of Act 1
  • Nora wrestles with new problems of fear, guilt, and wrongdoing
  • Conversation with Krogstad reveals him as the source of the loan
  • Crime – because she forged her father’s signature; she takes pride in getting this loan because it represents one of the few independent actions she has ever taken
  • She boasts that she can influence her husband – reveals her desire to feel useful and important

Although she holds some influence over her hubby, her power is extremely limited

  • Paradoxically, when Krogstad asks Nora to exert her influence on Torvald on his behalf, she perceives his request to be an insult to her husband because his statement implies that Torvald fails to conform to societal belief that the husband is responsible for financial matters
  • Krogstad wants to keep his job to build his reputation, but his decision to gain credibility through blackmail shows that he is interested only in reforming his appearance and not his inner self

Torvald is preoccupied with appearances, something Nora understands and uses to her advantage

  • She knows she can put her husband in a good mood by mentioning the costume that she will wear. The thought of her dressed up and looking beautiful placates Torvald
  • Torvald says: “I honestly feel sick, sick to my stomach, in the presence of such people” illustrates his deep contempt for moral corruption of Krogstad’s sort – while he thinks that such bad character is in contrast to his sweet, little Nora, we are aware that K and N have committed exactly the same crime—forgery
  • Torvald has unwittingly referred to his own wife when he scorns such people…his unknowing condemnation of the actions of the woman he loves is an example of dramatic irony.