Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House has been noted for its depiction of morals, manners, and social conventions of nineteenth century European society. Although Ibsen himself denied being an advocate for women's rights (Templeton 28), the play has been well received by feminist critics who emphasize that Nora's "fall" is the direct result of social and legal conventions that assigned gender roles to women that were essentially characterized by separate spheres and the absence of rights in the eyes of the law. Nora, who transgressed her assigned gender role by borrowing money and forging her father's signature on the loan's bond, is early on in the play characterized as a stereotypical woman, who is interested in spending her husband's money, enjoying confectionary, and fulfilling her role as mother and wife. However, despite this depiction, it becomes clear early on in the play that Nora is by far more intelligent than she lets on. Moreover, as I would argue, she deliberately chooses to play this role to save her husband's social face and conform to the expectations of society.
The play opens with Nora returning from a pre-Christmas shopping spree. Significantly, the audience learns early on that Nora and her husband have had financial problems in the past and that her husband has recently started a new job, which promises to solve all their financial problems (11). Accordingly, Nora went out to buy several gifts and enjoy the newly gained financial freedom by indulging herself and her family with expansive gifts and macaroons (Act 1, scene 1).
One of the most noticeable things in Act 1, scene 1 is the way Torvald addresses Nora. He calls her his "little lark," "a squirrel," and a "spendthrift." His response upon seeing all the things Nora bought is "Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?" (7), which clearly shows that he thinks his wife is incapable of spend