Interchange Conference Transcript
[Message #1 04:03:48 PM, Wednesday, March 10, 2004]
What are your initial impressions of Torvald's character in the opening scene of Act I? Are these impressions confirmed during the rest of the play, or challenged?
As you discuss to the questions above, try to find examples, too, to support your interpretations. And feel free to address just the first question in your first posting, too, so that we can get the discussion rolling....
[Message #2 01:51:22 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Torvald is very superficial. He's very into showing off his wife and family. He wants to be seen as the strong provider who gives his family everything they need and want so that they can be seen by outsiders as the perfect family.
[Message #3 01:52:25 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
He talks to nora like she's a small child, and he never seems to take a serious tone with her. He also seems to be concerned with money, and the image and reputation that being indebt creates. The fact that he is extremely self-involved is shown throughout the play
[Message #4 01:52:38 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
My initial impression of Trovald was first of all he's kind of annoying with all the name calling. In what we just read I think he calls Nora 5 different pet names. But anyway, my impression of Torvald is that he is rather controlling and obviously has a low view of women shown by when he says "Nora, Nora, how like a woman"
[Message #5 01:52:38 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think Torvald loves her very much, but it's not a mature, marriage kind of love. I think he loves her more like maybe one of his children. It always seems to me he is not speaking in his grown-up voice, but a different voice, like the voice that adults use when they are talking to young children. And he also has rules about how she can't have candy or sweets, and it doesn't seem very likely that a husband would make such a rule for his wife, but more of a rule that parents make for their kids. He also says a couple of time, "how like a woman", like he is kind of poking fun of her.
[Message #6 01:53:33 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
So, why does Nora stay with him, if he is, as Joe mentioned, kind of annoying?
[Message #7 01:53:40 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
From the very beginning of the play, I get the impression that Torvald thinks of his wife as a play toy. The tone he talks to her in is very degrading almost, and belittling. For example, the way he asks her if his little "squirrel" has been munching on macaroons. The sad part is that she responds to his voice. His voice continues, but she in the end sees.
[Message #8 01:54:04 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
The impression that I first got of Torvald is correct, because at the end we find out that he is only concerned with how their marriage looks to other people and what people think of him. He is not at all concerned with his wife or their marriage.
[Message #9 01:54:39 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I agree that Torvald does treat Nora like a child. He dresses her her up and teaches her a dance so that she can perform in front of his friends. She's almost like a pet.
[Message #10 01:56:28 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I'm not quite sure why Nora stays with him. Perhaps it's because that is all she's ever known. Her father treated her the same way and now her husband does. She just doesn't seem to know any better.
[Message #11 01:56:49 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think Nora stays with him or is with him in the first place only for the appearance of a happy normal marriage. From what we just read in class they do sound very in love but by the end of the play the mask is taken off and we see what Nora is really thinking.
[Message #12 01:56:54 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think she stays with Torvald because she has never been allowed to stand on her own. Her father always took care of her and babied her in her youth, and Torvald took over that role in her adulthood. She has not yet realized that she does not have to be a part of this "ideal" family, she can make her own choices and find out what kind of person she wants to be.
[Message #13 01:57:32 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think Nora stays with him because she has gotten so used to telling herself that she is happy, that she actually does start to believe it. She doesn't admit to herself her true feelings until the end of the play. Also, I think she has become quite used to the money that he gives her, because he gives her sort of an allowance, which she uses to pay off her debt. Which is another reason I think she is staying with him, she knows that she won't be able to pay Krogstad back.
[Message #14 01:57:40 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Does Nora enable Torvald's character and the way he treats her, then, until the end at least? Is she at all responsible?
[Message #15 01:57:49 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Nora stays with him because of their marriage committment. As she says in her ending speech..about how she feels like when she was a child and her father treated her as a doll as well. She has just been transfered from one male dominance to the other. She knows no different at this time.
[Message #16 02:00:13 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I believe she is very responsible. She never did anything to make him believe that their marriage wasn't perfect. If he liked something, she said she liked it too. If he wanted her to do something, she acted like she was happy to do it for him. She even says at the end of Act III, "and so I got the same taste as you--or I pretended to; I can't remember." From this I concluded that she has been lying so long that she realizes she doesn't really know herself at all anymore...she doesn't know when she is lying and when she is telling the truth.
[Message #17 02:00:24 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Nora definately enables Torvald. She tries to make sure she and the house is perfect and if she ever goes outside of the rules she hides it. No matter what her motive or crime, she is afraid that Torvald will not understand. So, she hide macaroons in her pockets, she borrows money secretively, and then dances to appease Torvald. She is very responsible for the way she is being treated because she takes it and doesn't stand up for herself.
[Message #18 02:01:01 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think that Nora is partly responsible for the way Torvald treats her because she has not even attempted to think on her own, she just seems to accept her husband's behavior until the end of the play. She has simply been lying to herself throughout her marriage.
[Message #19 02:01:38 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Sarah makes a good point. She had been lying to herself for so long that she doesn't know the truth anymore.
[Message #20 02:01:58 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Oh she's definitely responsible! She plays right into it, she has him pick out her outfit, she says that she can't do anything without him, he teachers her that dance. But I dont blame her for doing it because thats what was the norm at that time.
[Message #21 02:02:51 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I understand Sarah's point, but I don't think she is responsible because she has known only one way to be treated, and one way to act, her entire life. It is a very difficult thing to just terminate such a long lasting relationship, or even to change the way it has been for years. I believe she is extremely bottled up inside but didn't know what to do in the beginning but follow along. What are her other options at this point in her life with kids and a family?
[Message #22 02:03:40 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Is Torvald unusual in the context of the play's society? That is, if Nora's responsible (to some extent) for enabling his character, what role does the rest of the society play? Do others criticize or endorse him?
[Message #23 02:04:49 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
If you are taught from birth that you, as a woman, couldn't do anything on your own then you will believe it. Like Joe said, women being controlled by men was the norm. This goes along with what Rebecca was saying. If this is how she was taught to act then what other choice does she have except to go against her own nature and society?
[Message #24 02:05:52 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
And I think Torvald is just as responsible, because he just eats all of it right up!! He loves that fact that he has a helpless little "squirrel" to take care of, and he loves when he has to do things for her. She obviously knows this because her father treated her the same way. I think part of the reason she gets liberated is because of Kristine's character. Kristine is kind of a loner, who has been by herself, working and standing on her own two feet, and I think Nora is jealous of that. That is why at the beginning of the play, all Nora can do is throw Torvald's money in Kristine's face.
[Message #25 02:07:00 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think a way of interpreting Dr. Ranks character is the reason he is alone is because he isn't the normal male at the time. Correct me if I'm wrong but hadn't he never been married? Just something to think about...because we learn that he has real conversations with Nora and actually listens to her feelings and thoughts and stories.
[Message #26 02:07:42 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Society is who is really responsible for this. Society felt that women were weak and needed a man to take care of them. Torvald is following this to an extent but he is not controlling in the normal sense. He treats Nora like a child. Society would have him treat her like an adult who needed commands. Torvald treated her like a child who needed taught. This is unusual for the time and society. It might almost be better in a sense because he is not cruel to Nora like some men were to their wives in this time period.
[Message #27 02:08:00 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I think that society plays a role in Nora's behavior as well. During this particular time, women were expected to serve their husbands and bear children. It would have been considered extremely radical for Nora to be independent, and I think that it took a lot of courage for her to make the choice she did. Society was pushing her to be strictly a wife and a mother.
[Message #28 02:08:02 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
*******We're going to have to wrap up this portion of our discussion, so as a final posting, please respond to the following question:
Has Toravald's character changed during the course of the play? If so, how, and why? If not, what has allowed him to remain the same?
[Message #29 02:08:46 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I agree with Joe! In my mind, when she leaves at the end of the play, she is starting to realize that the kind of love she has for Dr. Rank is the kind of love that she really wants, and I hope they fall in love and run away together!!
[Message #30 02:08:47 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
No, it is not unusual for Torvald to act like this. This is why I don't think Nora's responsible. A society's culture shapes a person's identity, which can sometimes be an unfortunate thing. We act today like our times act. Culture is a rapidly changing process of beliefs. And during this time period, women were dolls and dependent on their husbands, which yes is a horrible thing, but is the truth.
[Message #31 02:09:49 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I don't think he has changed at all really. He still treats her like a child that doesn't know what she is doing. He thinks she is just confused, and I don't think he realizes that she really will never come back.
[Message #32 02:10:17 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I dont think Toravalds character ever changed or ever will. He doesn't change because Nora has always played right into how he has treated her. I hope he changes later but we dont get to know that.
[Message #33 02:10:22 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
Torvald's character hasn't really changed. He wants to forget that anything ever happened and just go back to the way things were. He still wants to treat her like a child. He wants to still pretend that his marriage is perfect.
[Message #34 02:10:42 PM, Thursday, March 11, 2004]
I feel as though he hasn't changed a bit because still at the end he continues to not listen to her.