A Doll’s House

by: Henrik Ibsen

Marriage

1

Yes – some time, perhaps. Years from now, when I’m no longer pretty. You mustn’t laugh! I mean, of course, when Torvald no longer loves me as he does now; when it no longer amuses him to see me dance and dress up and play the fool for him. Then it might be useful to have something up my sleeve.

Nora is responding to Mrs. Linde’s asking her if she will ever tell Torvald about the money she borrowed. Nora’s assertion that Mrs. Linde shouldn’t laugh shows that she is somewhat serious about using the information about the loan later. Right now, she has Torvald’s attention because being young, beautiful, and charming, she is a source of amusement for him. But the fact that Nora strategizes using the information when the youthful traits are gone shows her realization of how hollow and superficial their marriage is.

2

Well, you see, there are some people whom one loves, and others whom it’s almost more fun to be with.

After Dr. Rank confesses his love for Nora, he admits he was confused by how much she seemed to enjoy being with him. In her explanation as to why this is true, Nora compares him to the servants in her childhood home: She considered their company entertaining, while she held her father in high esteem. Nora seems to not know what love is, as she thinks the same way of Torvald as she does of her father. She knows she was supposed to marry someone respectable who told her what to do, but she never considered whether she enjoyed his company.

3

We’ve been married for eight years. Does it occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, man and wife, have ever had a serious talk together?

Nora confronts Torvald with this pressing question in the aftermath of his reaction to the forged loan turning point. Nora has seen Torvald’s true nature in a crisis, and she is suddenly aware that she and he have never had a heart-to-heart conversation before. Throughout the play, we’ve seen Torvald and Nora discuss frivolous things such as money or the dance, usually with Torvald telling Nora what to do and her acquiescing. Nora’s becoming aware of this dynamic in their marriage is an awakening, and she wants Torvald to see this truth as well.

4

But our home has never been anything but a playroom. I’ve been your doll-wife, just as I used to be papa’s doll-child.

Nora is about to leave Torvald, but before she leaves Nora does her best to help him understand why. Nora explains that growing up, she simply listened to her father and did not question anything he told her, and that she continued to live this way with Torvald after they got married. By comparing herself to a doll, Nora creates an easily understood metaphor of the manipulation and control she has endured her entire life. Nora realizes that her marriage has been nothing but a show, with Torvald pulling the strings.