In A Doll’s House and A Doll’s House Part 2, we see that being independent comes up many times in both plays with one of the characters, Nora Helmer. Being independent affects Nora in a number of ways because it is what she is trying to change about herself throughout both plays. Nora’s husband, Torvald is one of the big problems of why Nora cannot be self-sufficient. Nora and Torvald seem to have it all in the first Doll’s House, but in reality, their marriage is empty. They don’t have full conversations, just Nora saying yes to Torvald on everything he asks of her. The dependence that Nora had on Torvald kept her from having her own personality. But we see that Nora evolves in the second play by when she left her home in the first play. The development of independence changes with Nora but in an insignificant way.
In the first Doll’s House, Nora relies on Torvald and doesn’t do anything for herself while always asking for help from her husband. She acts very immaturely when she is around Torvald acting like a “doll”; a boring, static character with a minor personality of her own. Nora’s whole life is a build-up of societal norms and the assumptions of others. Nora is not accepted as an independent person by her husband, nor does she feel like it. It is understandable that she is living to please others rather than herself. From her childhood, Nora has always retained the opinions of either her father or husband, anticipating that it will satisfy them. This reasoning makes her appear as childish, revealing that she possesses no objectives of her own. In the first play, Torvald has always had nicknames for Nora because it is how she is acting. He says, “is that my song-lark chirruping out there?”, or “is that my squirrel rummaging in there?” (Ibsen 110). Torvald calls Nora a squirrel because she likes to collect secret piles of which Torvald orders that she does not have, but she hides them anyways. When Torvald calls Nora the other nicknames, it means she can not get anything by without telling Torvald. When Torvald calls Nora by her pet names, it is symbolic of his beliefs about women and their gender roles. He holds a protective position against his wife as he views Nora who needs his guidance and direction. This is a significant statement that lets people know that Nora can’t do anything on her own.
In addition to Nora being childish, Torvald has also called Nora a “spendthrift.”A quote that Nora says that also reveals her immaturity is, “Oh but Torvald, we can be a little extravagant now, surely. Can’t we? Just a teeny-weeny bit. After all, you’ll have a big salary now and be earning lots and lots of money” (Ibsen 110). Nora just doesn’t understand that Torvald wants to save money and not waste it all on presents. She knows that he’s earning the money, but she doesn’t need to spend it all. Also, the vocabulary she is saying, “teeny-weeny” also states that she has not grown up much by saying words that children would say. It feels like Nora is emotionally undeveloped because she doesn’t understand that maturity can be developed by having relationships with people and not just doing whatever she wants. By the end of the play, Nora finally agreed with herself that she needs to be on her own and grow to learn new things by her lonesome. She had enough of Torvald treating her like a child and left him alone with their kids by himself. Nora thinks that Torvald doesn’t understand her and she doesn’t understand him either. There is a realization that she believes she spent her entire life being loved for not who she really is, just there for the role she plays which is just being “Torvald’s wife”. Nora’s views of independence and self-sufficiency reveal her as being immature and “inexperienced”.
In A Doll’s House Part 2, Nora seems to be more independent with herself. She went out in the world by herself to learn how to live for herself, not for her family and especially her husband. When Nora comes back to the Helmer household, she came back for a reason. There were divorce papers that Torvald didn’t sign and Nora did not like that. She needed help from two other main characters, Anne-Marie and Emmy, Nora’s daughter. Nora states that she wanted to be independent and have no help from anyone. But, she came back for help and can not do it on her own. Nora says to her daughter Emmy, “for everyone, tell him it will be alright, that there’s no point in wrecking everything he’s built, tell him to do it for you” (Hnath 85). She is telling Emmy to do something for her because she doesn’t want to. This quote is saying that Nora will not speak to him because she is afraid that he will say no. She has said she “changed” and doesn’t want to get it any drama, but it really feels like she’s asking her daughter for help because she can’t do it. Nora says she’s going to ruin Torvald’s life if he doesn’t sign the divorce papers. She really hasn’t changed and is still childish if she tries to ruin him because she doesn’t get what she wants.