House essaysA Doll’s House Essay: Money Matters
Henrik Ibsen was born in 1828 to a wealthy family, however, when he was just eight years old his family went bankrupt, and they lost their status in society. Ibsen knew how the issue of money could destroy a persons reputation in no time at all. Perhaps that is how he makes the characters in his play, A Doll’s House , so believable. Nora and Mrs. Linde, the two main female characters in the play, have had the issues of money and forgery ruin their lives. Nora forged her dead fathers signature to get a loan. The play revolves around her struggle with her fear of being found out. Both womens values change as the story moves along. At first, it appears that Nora values money and the status that it brings. Mrs. Linde values her own happiness, and eventually Nora realizes that the only way she will be able to live with what she has done is to do the same.
From the start of the play, we see that Noras entire focus is on money. Wont it be lovely to have stacks of money and not a care in the world (703), Nora asks Mrs. Linde. Almost every conversation she has in the play is related to money in some way or another. When Torvald, her husband, asks her what she wants for Christmas, she tells him, You could give me money, Torvald. . . . Then I could hang the bills in pretty glit paper on the Christmas tree. Wouldnt that be fun (699)? Her carefree way of handling money exasperates her husband. He wants to make her happy, but he isnt able to give her what he doesnt have. He doesnt know about the loan, at first, and, to him and the audience, it appears that she is just throwing her money away hopelessly.
Mrs. Linde, on the other hand, knows what it is like to not have money to spare. She values money, but for an entire different purpose. The looks at it for what it is worth, and how it can help her survive. Her entire life she has had to work hard for anything that she wanted or needed. Well, anyway, she responded to Noras remark on having stacks of money, it would be lovely enough to have enough for necessities (703). To survive, she had to scrape up living with a little shop and a little teaching and whatever else she could find (704). After her mother died, she was free from working like a slave to support her, but she still needed to find work to support herself. Mrs. Linde knew what the value of money was because she worked hard for it.
As the play moves on, we learn why Nora cant seem to manage money very well. She is trying to pay back the loan without her husband finding out about it. Unfortunately, he does find out, and it is then that Nora finds out that valuing money for the wrong reasons does not bring happiness. While we dont know what happens to Nora after she decides to leave the security of her husband, we have an idea that she will end up like Mrs. Linde, working hard just to survive. She will learn the true value of money, and she will learn how much good and bad it can do for a person.
Because we see the two women at different stages in their lives, one would probably admire Mrs. Lindes values over Noras. The reason for this is that When the play ends, Nora is still somewhat of a child, while Mrs. Linde acts in a mature way throughout the play. She has already learned the things that Nora is to learn, and for this we can admire her.
Ibson, Henrik. A Doll’s House . Responding to Literature. Ed. Judith Stanford. 2nd edition. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1996. 697-753.