Notes on A Doll's House Themes

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A Doll's House Topic Tracking: Honesty

Honesty 1: When Nora tells Mrs. Linde about the money she borrowed, she also informs her that Torvald knows nothing about it. She has been keeping this information a secret from her husband for years, and continues to do so. When Mrs. Linde questions such dishonesty, Nora explains that Torvald has such great pride, that a story like hers would damage his sensitivity and maleness.

Honesty 2: Nora and her two friends, Dr. Rank and Mrs. Linde, urge her to do something small that Torvald forbids. He wants her to act ladylike and not eat cake nor swear. They urge her to do something opposite of he desires right under his nose. She simply cannot take the first step - in something minor - to act dishonestly towards him, despite the fact that he has already lied to him about something major - money.

Honesty 3: Krogstad comes to the Helmer home to visit Nora, this time, instead of Torvald. He threatens to reveal the truth to Torvald, unless she protects his job at the bank. Nora is terrified of her lie escaping into the open and into Torvald's ears, and tries to convince Krogstad to reconsider. Her dishonesty towards her husband has escalated to a greater level than previously thought.

Honesty 4: Krogstad reveals proof of Nora's ultimate dishonesty with the bond. She had forged her father's signature years earlier to get the loan to save her husband. Krogstad proves this by asking the date of her father's death and then presenting the papers that Nora signed - as her father - several days after her father's death. This lie is not only devastating to her marriage, but to society and the law. She now realizes the gravity of her situation caused by lies and dishonesty.

Honesty 5: When Nora questions Torvald about Krogstad's character, he explains that Krogstad is a moral outcast, for he lied and forged a legal bank document. He continues to say that any household that contains lies (and dishonesty) is tainted, infecting the entire household and family with evil.

Honesty 6: Nora lies to Dr. Rank so that she may be alone to discuss the loan with Krogstad. He tells her that he has been honest and trustworthy for nearly 18 months and cannot be pushed back into the gutter of dishonesty. He has worked too hard to become legitimate and honest, and will not be discharged by her husband. He continues to threaten to bring the Helmer family down with him, by telling Torvald the truth about the loan and the forged bond.

Honesty 7: Kristina knows that Torvald must know the truth behind all of Nora's actions. She realizes that everything will be fine and that she had prevented Krogstad from destroying Torvald's professional reputation. Regardless, she understands that the Helmer home cannot continue as it has been. He must know the truth so that Nora can be the person she truly is, without acting as his doll, his skylark, and his scatterbrain.

Honesty 8: Upon her exit, Kristina tells Nora that everything will be fine. However, she must tell Torvald the truth about the loan. Nora refuses, yet again, and Kristina leaves.

Honesty 9: When the truth finally comes out through Krogstad's letter, Torvald explodes with a venomous tongue. He verbally abuses Nora, who accepts each harsh word willingly. His reaction is exactly what Nora feared when faced with honesty herself. Perhaps this reaction is the true and honest character behind Torvald, when under pressure.

Honesty 10: Nora realizes that she has never truly been honest with herself. Although she lied to her husband about the money, she has always been lying to herself, for she has never given herself the option of discovering her own strength, personality, or independence. When she thinks of continuing to live the same life she has led with Torvald for the past eight years, she cringes.

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