These days it is difficult to read an old play and not be shocked by the way woman were treated in society. Unlike today, women did not have the freedom to choose what they would like to be in their future. In the late 1800s a womans purpose was simply to take care of her husband and raise her children. They were treated like possessions rather than human beings who were capable of thinking and making important decisions on their own. In the play A dolls House the reader is introduced to two characters that have many differences as well as similarities.
The womens names are Nora who is married with children, and Christine, who is a widower and has no children. The contrasts in the two characters are most obvious in the role that each of them has played in their marriages. At the beginning of the play, Nora is portrayed like a doll, hence the title of the play. Her husband, Torvald, talks to her like a little girl, using terms such as little lark or his song bird in ways that imply his dominance and inferiority in their relationship (Ibsen 724). Later on, we are shown that Nora is not really as helpless as she is first revealed.
Out of all the characters in the play Nora is the sneakiest. Most of her deceptiveness roots from her dishonesty and disloyalty to her husband, Torvald. She constantly lies to him about little things such as weather she has been buying macaroons. We later find out about the crimes that she has committed in the past. Although these crimes were committed out of love for her husband, and were ultimately done to save his life it begins to become apparent that Nora is not nearly as innocent at Torvald thinks she is.
Early on it is apparent that Nora has the ability to change her personality as she speaks with different people. By doing so she always gets what she wants, just like a child. Christine is an old friend of Noras who she has not seen or heard from in a very long time that has had a very different life than Nora. She gave up the man she loved to financially support her mother and two younger brothers by marrying a man that she did not really love. When her husband suddenly died it actually freed her from a relationship that she was in for the wrong reasons. Christine was left out on her to own support herself.
She was forced into the world and it became necessary for her to earn her own money and to become an independent women. Christine arrives at Noras house unexpectedly and informs Nora of her hardships from the past years which involved the death of her husband. In this scene we begin to see an extremely selfish and insensitive side to Nora. She doesnt really pay attention to Christine when she talks. She is much more concerned with filling Christine in about how these last eight years have been so truly happy (Ibsen 710). Even though Christine has come to her almost out of desperation, Nora still feels the need to prove herself.
For example when Nora finds out that Christine has no children, Nora goes on and on explaining how perfect her three beautiful children are (Ibsen 711). Christine seems to feel protective over Nora. It is apparent that she realized that Nora has to be treated like the child she acts like. When Dr. Rank comes over Nora offers him a macaroon. When he brings up the point that macaroons are forbidden in their house, Nora makes up a story and tells him that Christine has brought them as a gift. Christine does not say anything against this because she knows that, just like a child, Nora will be scolded and reprimanded for breaking the rules.
We begin to realize the way that Nora controls everything so that she is happy. Soon we understand why Nora is so sneaky. Christine tells Nora that she didnt grow and she is still a child (Ibsen 725). In an attempt to prove Christine wrong Nora explains her secret. This is when we hear about how Nora has saves her husbands life by forging her fathers name and borrowing money. It is not until later that we find out that the money was actually borrowed from Krogstad without her husbands permission. Not only was this a crime, but she did this knowing how much her husband was against borrowing money from anybody.
In Many ways Christine was a role model for Nora. Although she never said it out loud, she admired and looked up to her. Christine was able to be self-reliable and in charge of her own life. At the end of the play Nora begins to realize that she must go out into the world and educate herself, to support herself, like Christine does. She knows that it is something she has to do. During the time that this play was written, women were not seen as independent and self-reliable. Even though Nora felt as though she had no freedom, she had already been making her own decisions behind her husbands back.
By doing so she may have made it seem like her husband depended on her. She proved to Torvald that she was not the helpless little creature that he had her pegged out to be. He would say things to her such as worries that you couldnt possibly help me with (Ibsen 726). Nora also made the decision to leave her children. Nora immerges as a fully independent woman who rejects her duties towards her family to concentrate on what she owes herself. Throughout the play we see Nora eventually manages to escape from her fake life that she was living and stand up for herself.. Christine was coming from the other direction.
She was trying to escape the life of uncertainty to find some order. She was willing to work and wanted Nora to help her get a job at the bank that Noras husband works at. At this bank is where Krogstad her true love worked. Everybody had thought that he was an evil manipulative man, but he was only like that because he had lost Christine years ago. Torvald and Nora had a relationship where there was no equality. As for Christine and Krogstad their relationship is much more open. They discuss important matters in a serious manner and are able to have real adult conversations.
Torvald would always tell Nora that she was not to worry about anything and she would not understand such complex matters (Ibsen 722). Even though there are many contrasts that can be drawn between Nora and Christine, there are similarities that are quite apparent. Christine shows her loyalty to her family when she accepts a marriage proposal in order to support the welfare of her family. Then, we have Nora who saves her husbands life, which was also a sacrifice for the well-being of a family. They both experience pride and fulfillment in helping their families.