A need for money affects all the major characters in A Doll’s House. In the beginning of the play it is revealed that Torvald was recently promoted and will receive “a big fat income,” however he still chastises Nora for spending too much, arguing that they need to be cautious financially. Mrs. Linde is in desperate need of a job following the death of her husband, and after her replacement of Krogstad at the bank leaves him threatening to turn Nora in in order to get his job back. Indeed, the bank works as a symbol for the pervasive presence of money in the characters’ lives.
In the play, money symbolizes the power that the characters have over one another. In the first scene, Torvald’s ability to dictate how much Nora spends on Christmas presents shows his power over her. Meanwhile, the debt that Nora owes Krogstad allows him to have power over her and Torvald. Both Nora and Mrs. Linde cannot earn large incomes because they are women; their inability to access significant amounts of money is one way that they are oppressed by the sexism of the time. The play also shows that, while earning money leads to power, it can also be dangerous. In the beginning of the play, Nora is proud of the fact that she “raised” the money for her and Torvald’s trip to Italy herself—however the debt she owes soon becomes a source of terror, dread, and shame. The thrill of obtaining money is therefore shown to have a downside.
Money and Work ThemeTracker
Money and Work Quotes in A Doll's House
Nora! Just like a woman. Seriously though, Nora, you know what I think about these things. No debts! Never borrow! There’s always something inhibited, something unpleasant, about a home built on credit and borrowed money.
Oh, what a glorious feeling it is, knowing you’ve got a nice, safe job, and a good fat income.
Oh, sometimes I was so tired, so tired. But it was tremendous fun all the same, sitting there working and earning money like that. Almost like being a man.
If it ever got around that the new manager had been talked over by his wife… As long as the little woman gets her own stubborn way…! Do you want me to make myself a laughing stock in the office? Give people the idea that I am susceptible to any kind of outside pressure? You can imagine how soon I’d feel the consequences of that!
I want to get on my feet again, Mrs. Helmer; I want to get to the top… For the last eighteen months I’ve gone straight; all that time it’s been hard going; I was content to work my way up, step by step. Now I’m being kicked out, and I won’t stand for being taken back again as an act of charity. I’m going to get to the top, I tell you… It’ll be Nils Krogstad, not Torvald Helmer, who’ll be running the bank.
What else is there to understand, apart from the old, old story? A heartless woman throws a man over the moment something more profitable offers itself.
Without work I couldn’t live. All my life I have worked, for as long as I can remember; that has always been my one great joy. But now I’m completely alone in the world, and feeling horribly empty and forlorn. There’s no pleasure in working only for yourself. Nils, give me somebody and something to work for.