Answer: Nora Helmer is an excellent creation of Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright and theater director. In the play “A Doll’s House”, she is one of the major characters. From the beginning to the end of the play, she keeps on changing radically. She develops and changes from a doll to an independent woman. She is portrayed in her relations with her Torvald Helmer, children, Krogstad, Doctor Rank, the old Nurse and Christine Linde. In the beginning of the play, she was happy but towards the end of the play, she becomes serious and somber leaving her husband’s house to face the future of uncertainty.
Nora Helmer is seen at the beginning behaving like a conventional wife. She fully responses to Torvald’s terms of endearment when he calls her a ‘little skylark’, a ‘squirrel’, a ‘little singing bird’, ‘darling little wife’ and so on. She is an accommodating wife but her husband instead of protecting her after knowing about secret becomes indignant. This surprises her. After the incident, she realizes that her husband treats her as a doll in the house. Even her father compels her to adopt her father’s views and opinions. Her father also treats her as a doll in the play. Such treatment is inflicting to her as she says:
“You and father have done me a great wrong.
It is your fault that my life has come to nothing.” (Page: 164, A-3)
Nora is a very loving and affectionate mother who loves her children even though the old Nurse mostly looks after them and is largely responsible for their upbringing. In the happy domestic scene of the play, the children show great pleasure in the company of their mother and Nora is shown as supremely happy in playing with them. When it seems to her that she is going to leave her children behind, she asks the old Nurse if she would like to look after them as dutifully as she is doing now. Thus, she is quite concerned about the welfare and happiness of her children but it is quite surprising to us that she ultimately leaves them. Her desertion of the children is something of which we cannot approve but her own state of mind at that time is such as she finds no alternative but to leave them.
Her friendship with Mrs. Linde is amiable, helpful and healthy. They share each other’s miseries. At one stage when Mrs. Linde asks Nora to help her to get a job, Nora requests her husband to arrange a job for her. On the other hand, she has a very friendly relationship with Dr. Rank who secretly loves her and wants to commit suicide if he does not get her leaving all his property for her but Nora honestly maintains a respectable distance for the purity of her relationship.
She is more practical than many other women in the Victorian Age and even than her husband, Torvald Helmer. However, it is not an easy task for a woman to borrow money but she alone takes the risk of managing the money for him to recover her husband from illness. She is dead against reaching the news to her husband but it is Mr. Krogstad, an opportunist, informs Torvald of it by a letter. After a perusal of the letter, he becomes very enraged. He calls her ‘the unfathomable hideousness of it all’. She is excessively hurt at the loveless comment. At that time, the realization of her captivity maddens her. She always believes that Torvald can sacrifice anything for her sake but now she understands that his love for her was artificial. This is for the first time she, like a mature woman, rediscovers her and decides to leave him and her children and raises a voice of protest against inflicting male-domination. She complains with excessive grief:
“You have never loved me.
You only thought it amusing to be in love with me.” (Page: 163, A-3)
In fine, it is clear that Nora Helmer is a realistic character. Her faults show that she is a real being. In fact the whole portrayal of this woman is splendidly handled. She is not a figment of the fancy but a real woman. In her protest against her husband’s possessive attitude towards her, she symbolizes the feminine revolt against male domination. She is a modern woman, an independent and free woman who maintains her self-respect at a very high cost. She is an awakened woman with her awareness for her feminine rights as an individual. She represents a revolt against the slavery of woman by man.