General Questions

HeRa: Moral Values
While every character appears to have similar aspirations for individualism, they have quite different perspectives towards moral values; and these different values are the main source of conflicts among the characters. Throughout the play, Torvald views morality from an extremely strict point of view, and believes that every act that one carries out should be just and right, from the society's point of view. Hence Torvald continuously condemns "[Krogstad's] moral breakdown" (p.70) for the forgery Krogstad committed in the past, and says that he's "morally lost" (p.70). Torvald uses only the forgery Krogstad ommitted quite a time ago in the past to criticize him, and refuses to look for any change in attitude, firmly believing that one whose morality has been questioned is always corrupt. In contrast, Nora's view towards morality takes more humanly aspects into consideration. As Krogstad threatens Nora about disclosing the forgery committed, she is quite confident about her deed as she refuses to acknowledge that the "laws don't inquire into motives" (p.67), and claim that her actions are justified because it happened from her desire to save her husband. From Nora's point of view, her own relationships and the people around her are more important than what the society wants and values. However, this contrasitng views towards morality eventually brings the conflict between Torvald and nora to a climax when Torvald learns about Nora's crime near the end of the play. Torvald immediately expresses disbelief and denial towards the fact and expresses abhorrence for her deed, calling her "a hypocrite, a liar, a criminal" (p.105), even though everything that she did was to help Torvald overcome his illness. The instant reaction of Torvald characterizes him as a man who considers reputation to be a top priority, rather than the love within family, while for Nora, family and love are the top priorities in her life. Different characters' different perspectives towards morality in A Doll's House help characterize them and portray their mindset, and also serve to create major conflict between the characters.

Michael Xie: Reputation
Reputation is another major aspect of the A Doll’s House. Reputation is most present in Torvald for upholding his “manliness” and Nora as a wife. As the Helmer couple maintain their reputation, they are in turn deceiving themselves and each other of their true desires. Torvald, the typical male set in Norway during the late 1880’s, needs to uphold his pride as a man by establishing his position of dominance in the family and earn a good salary. When Nora pleaded Torvald for Krogstad’s sake, Torvald rejected her saying that having outsiders know that he is swayed by his wife would jeopardize his reputation. In addition, Torvald keeps his male pride by having an extremely beautiful wife. He admires Nora’s beauty and treats it as an extremely important aspect as he wishes to display it to others as he did in the costume party. Nora, on the other hand, does her best to maintain her reputation as a dutiful wife. She does so by loaning money from the Bank via Krogstad even though she committed a crime in the process by forging her father’s signature. However, she does this so that Torvald can recover from a sickness. Though no one but Krogstad and herself know about this until the end of the play, she upholds the reputation for herself, convincing herself that she is a dutiful wife. In addition, she shows her pride by boasting to Kristine and Dr. Rank about Torvald and his new well-paid occupation. However much reputation or pride she has, she is deceiving herself what she truly wants, individuality. As the play comes to an end, Nora becomes an individual and breaks her ties with Torvald, an action which although harms her reputation, fulfills her desire.