Notes on A Doll's House Themes

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A Doll's House Topic Tracking: Independence

Independence 1: Nora reminisces about the past times she worked to make money. When she and Torvald were going through difficult financial times, she was forced to work a little bit. She thinks back to those times with fond memories, and also refers to her working world as acting like a man. Women are still not allowed to become independent workers.

Independence 2: Torvald inquires as to Mrs. Linde's marital status. Only if she is a widow, can she work independently in his bank. When he realizes that she is a widow, he can then accept her into his society and his bank as a co-worker. If she were still married, she would be unable to assert her professional independence.

Independence 3: Nora discusses raising children with the nursemaid, Nanny. She questions her ability to leave her own family to raise her and her children. Nanny responds that it was such a great opportunity to raise Nora, that she left her own family with little problem. For better or worse, Nanny asserted independence by going after the best job at the time. Nora looks upon her with admiration and trepidation at the same time.

Independence 4: Nora pleads for money from her husband. She does so by acting into his method of flirtation and communication, by illustrating her complete and utter dependence on him. By calling herself a skylark (and all other pet names deemed appropriate by Torvald), Nora plays into her husband's form of communication. Furthermore, she becomes dependent by begging for money from her husband, for she has no other method of getting money.

Independence 5: Torvald cannot bear to let any form of dependence or non-individuality be exposed. He could not let it be known that any action or word would be influenced by his wife. He must act completely on his own, individually, and in his mind, independently. He does everything professionally independent of his wife's opinions, desires, and thoughts.

Independence 6: The tarantella is a dance that showcases a single dancer - independent of those around her. Nora dances the tarantella alone, highlighting her ability to work by herself and illustrate her individual values and strengths. It is the tarantella that traces her individual abilities throughout the play, from the crazed rehearsal to the final performance at the Christmas party upstairs.

Independence 7: Mrs. Linde suggests to Krogstad that they leave town and leave the bank and the Helmers together and form an independent team. She does not feel whole unless she works and helps others. Although this may seem like independence to her, in the sense that she must work, as an independent soul, to feel whole, she is also saying that she must work for others - dependent on their use and financial retribution - to feel whole. The two can become dependent on one another, yet independent of all others.

Independence 8: When Dr. Rank teases Nora about coming to the next costume party as a mascot in her own daily attire, he is subtly making a strong statement about her lack of identity and independence. He is planting the seed in Nora's head that she must find her own identity and independence and stop playing the doll and the mascot to her husband.

Independence 9: For the first time, Nora asserts her independence in spirit. She verbally expresses her own mind and opinions to Torvald. She cannot believe that she has let herself stay so dependent and childish for so long. She realizes that she has never even had a normal conversation with her husband. At this point, she speaks back to her husband as an independent person, with a brain and a personality. She knows that the next step is to assert her independence not only in thought, but in action.

Independence 10: When Nora walks out on Torvald and her family, she has asserted the final step on her first course to independence. This active step towards independence leads her into new and uncharted territory. However, it is a place that she knows that she must enter, scared and excited at the same time. She leaves her husband to find a new and independent life on her own.

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