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How Is the Relationship of Nora and Torvald Presented in the Exposition of the Play?

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How is the relationship of Nora and Torvald presented in the exposition of the play?
Yasmin Tijani- 12.10

In the exposition of the play, Torvald is immediately seen as the dominant partner with his choice of nicknames for Nora. Helmer always refers to her with an animal pet name; ‘Is that my skylark twittering out there?’ The use of zoomorphism- the representation of a human in the form or with the attributes of lower animals deducts her from her humanity and oppresses her. The relationship is automatically seen as one where she is like a pet and this is constantly reinforced with the animal references. This allows for the reader to infer that she is something he owns and he simply sees her as a trophy wife; there for entertainment rather than a life partner. Ibsen’s choice of using animals that are wild foreshadows her running away and leaving Torvald. Ibsen also does this to show how women of that time were oppressed and forced to live in a patriarchal society.

Torvald asserts his dominance and authority over her especially in the very beginning of the play and Ibsen does this to show the patriarchal society in which they lived in. ‘You musn’t disturb me!’- the exclamation point used here emphasises his assertiveness which ultimately forces Nora to be the subjugated partner and submissive in the relationship.

At the beginning, Torvald says ‘No debts! Never borrow!’; showing how is quite commanding in the relationship and treats her like a child but later he uses personal pronouns like ‘we’ and states how they have ‘stuck it out’; like they are now equal- this shows how he has contradicted his own point. Ibsen uses this juxtaposition of two conflicting ideas to show how Torvald is pretending like they are equal in the relationship.

Nora finds comfort in financial security and the reader can infer that she is obsessed with the idea of money. ‘You’ve got a big salary now, and you’re going to make lots and lots of money’; Ibsen could be doing this to show how people use money as a form of protection.

By keeping up appearances and seeming like the ideal Victorian couple (dominant male) but really they are not as they appear. This presents the idea of how the couple do not know each other that well because not only does Nora keep things from Torvald, they put up a façade as a couple in front of each other. This shows in their home as well as it is lined with ‘china and other bric-a-brac.

‘One day I might, yes. Many years from now, when I’ve lost my looks a little. Don’t laugh. I mean, of course, a time will come when Torvald is not as devoted to me, not quite so happy when I dance for him, and dress for him, and play with him.’ In this quotation from Act One, Nora describes to Mrs. Linde the circumstances under which she would consider telling Torvald about the secret loan she took in order to save his life. Her claim that she might consider telling him when she gets older and loses her attractiveness is important because it shows that Nora has a sense of the true nature of her marriage. She recognizes that Torvald’s affection is based largely on her appearance, and she knows that when her looks fade, it is likely that Torvald’s interest in her will fade as well. Her suggestion that in the future she may need something to hold over Torvald in order to retain his faithfulness and devotion to her reveals that Nora is not as naïve and innocent as she pretends to be. She plays on the fact that people think she’s not that bright in order to manipulate others.…...

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