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In Act I of Henrik's A Doll's House, the widow Mrs. Linde comes to see Nora and during their conversations patronizes and belittles her just as Torvald does. Mrs. Linde states, obnoxiously, "you know so little of the burdens and troubles of life," because all Nora knows is "small household cares and that sort of thing!" Mrs. Linde follows her claim with the brutal statement, "You are a child, Nora," (Act I). Nora stands her ground, one point of proof that she is most certainly not a child -- if "child" is to be defined as an immature person. To analyze whether Nora is a child or not depends on one's definition of "child." Possessing emotional intelligence is a sign of maturity that many children possess in far greater proportion than their adult counterparts. However, when Nora is called a "child" the word is used in its most derogatory way. Nora is being accused of being immature, undeveloped, naive, and frivolous. She is accused of being half a person, or an almost-person, as children are treated. Nora understands the implications quite well when she retorts to Mrs. Linde's statement about being a child: "You ought not to be so superior…think that I am incapable of anything really serious," (Act I). Indeed, it is at this moment that Nora probably has one of her first personal awakenings, when she understands that it is not just Torvald that perceives her as a child but most people in her social circle. Later on, in Act III, Nora notices that her father had treated her like a doll and that treatment was simply perpetuated in her marriage to Torvald.
Ironically, when Nora protests about Mrs. Linde's belittling statement about her being "a child," Linda herself volunteers a hilarious and emotionally immature response: "Come, come," she says. The phrase "come, come" is one that is used commonly by mothers trying to soothe their crying babies. Mrs. Linde sees Nora as a child; which means that Mrs. Linde does not see Nora as a human being. A child, for Mrs. Linde, is a half-person who could not possibly know the pain and suffering of human life. Because Mrs. Linde is a widow, she assumes that Nora does not understand the depth of human suffering. In fact, Nora does know the depth of human suffering because she lives it every day. And it does not take the full action of the play to point that fact out to Nora; she already knows it by the time she has the fateful encounter with Mrs. Linde. Nora protests that Mrs. Linde has no right to talk down to her; that she does not know her and therefore could not possibly understand what goes on in her life. Yet it seems as if Mrs. Linde cannot imagine Nora having emotional or practical problems of any importance. In Mrs. Linde's eye, Nora is a doll -- a fake human being without any inherent value. Just getting enough food and sleep should be enough for Nora: is Linde's implication. Nora again responds, "You look down upon me altogether, Christine -- but you ought not to," (Act I).
Nora has been a victim of patriarchy, and so too is Mrs. Linde, Torvald, and other characters in A Doll's House. Nora, however, is the only person strong, intelligent, and mature enough to see through the problem. Throughout the play, Nora proves herself to be more mature than her husband, Mrs. Linde, and many other characters in the play, or people in her life. For one, the crux of the conflict in the play is Nora's having taken the initiative to pay for Torvald's treatment in Italy. She borrowed from her own account, and had the emotional intelligence to understand that Torvald would not have approved at the time. Nora overestimated Torvald's maturity by assuming that one day he would come to view the action as one of compassion, altruism, intelligence, and benevolence. Instead, in Act III when Torvald finds out about what happened, he berates Nora. He scolds her like a child, calling her a "hypocrite, a liar -- worse, worse -- a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it all!" (Act III). His reaction is far more childish than anything that Nora says at any time during the play. Another point of proof of Nora's…[continue]
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