53 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1879

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Important Quotes

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“There, there! My little singing bird mustn’t go drooping her wings, eh? Has it got the sulks, that little squirrel of mine?” 

(Act 1 , Page 3)

Torvald’s affectionate pet names for Nora hint at the play’s central dilemma from the start. Torvald’s love casts Nora not as an adult peer but as a pettish little animal. His affection can turn to sternness in a moment when his “little pet” doesn’t behave as he’d like her to.

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“You could always give me money, Torvald. Only what you think you could spare. And then I could buy myself something with it later on.” 

(Act 1 , Page 4)

Nora is requesting not just money but also agency. Torvald is happy to give her little sums for “housekeeping,” but when she wants money to spend as she pleases, he becomes withholding and condescending. The money he refuses her here is a symbol of power and freedom.

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“Tell me, is it really true that you didn’t love your husband? What made you marry him, then?” 

(Act 1 , Page 11)

When the widowed Kristine appears looking worn and thin, Nora first regales her with tales of Torvald’s recent success, then abruptly starts asking her tactless questions like this one. Nora’s flighty behavior suggests that her life as a cosseted housewife has left her childish in more ways than one.