Farnaz Falsafi

English 210


Money, Money, Money, Money

Some people say that money is the root of all evil, but even so, it is realized that one cannot survive with out it. Money is a necessity, and most everyone can agree to the fact that financial security can make oneís life easier. The underlying theme of money plays a central role in Henrik Ibsenís play A Doll House. The economic theme shapes the plot of the play, affects each characterís behavior, and decides the charactersí situations.

First, in the plot, reader can quickly see that it is built on economics. One gets this right away when it is revealed that Helmer, Noraís husband, has just become the new manager of a bank. Not only does his new position bring in financial security, but also the bank itself is a symbol of money or economy. As the story progresses, the reader slowly discovers the financial insecurity that the family had suffered in the past. Because of the hard times, Helmer was forced to find extra work and his many jobs caused him to become sick. It is based on this previous economic insecurity that Ibsen develops the plot. To save Helmerís life, Nora is forced to borrow money for a trip that he must take from an old acquaintance, Krogstad. The story revolves around the fact that Nora has kept her borrowing money from Krogstad and slowly paying off her debt monthly an incredible secret from Helmer. Noraís secrecy creates an air of tension in the play. "But thatís the point: he mustnít know! My Lord, canít you understand? He mustnít ever know..." (Meyer, 1572). In the end, economic matters also add to the plot. Driven for the need for financial stability, Nora decides to leave her husband and her family so that she may make a living on her own. She realizes that she has been dependent on Helmer for everything that she has needed and wishes once and for all to be free of the burden of economic insecurity. "I have to try to educate myself. You canít help me with that. Iíve got to do it alone. And thatís why Iím leaving you now" (1609). Another point in the play where money plays a key role in the plot is when Noraís friend Kristine shows up at her house with not a penny to her name. Kristine asks Helmer for a position at the bank, which he gladly gives her. But, Helmer does so by firing Krogstad. "Iím also aware now whom I can thank for being turned out" Krogstad says angrily (1578). Money obviously plays an important function in the plot of the play.

Aside from the plot, the charactersí behaviors and ways of thinking are strongly influenced by economic situations. First, Noraís behavior can be compared to that of a stereotypical housewife. Because Nora lacks money, she is completely dependent upon her husband for support. Anything she wishes to buy she must first get money from Helmer, and in a way, also get permission. "You could give me money, Torvald. No more than you think you can spare; then one of these days Iíll buy something with it" (1566). Nora also equates personal freedom with how wealthy she is. Since she does not work and does not make any money, she does not believe that she is "free" and allows Helmer to control her. Noraís psychological attitude is also affected by money. The reader can note how Noraís mood changes in relation to how much money she has. When Nora has money, it is evident that she is ecstatic and thinking of how to spend it. When she is lacking money, her character becomes depressed and upset. "Oh, Kristine, I feel so light and happy! Wonít it be lovely to have stacks of money and not a care in the world?" (1569). In Helmerís case, he too is easily manipulated with money. The reader can see that Helmer acts more powerfully when he has more money. Helmer believes he is more powerful and is more important than others because he possesses more wealth. In this way, the fact that Helmer has money affects his relationship with his wife. Helmer treats Nora as if she were