Character Sketch of Torvald Helmer in A Doll’s House

Torvald Helmer may be a lawyer who at the play’s outset has recently been promoted to director. he’s married to Nora Helmer, with whom he has three children. He doesn’t seem particularly keen on his children, even once saying that their presence makes the house “unbearable to anyone except mothers.” Straightforward and traditional in his beliefs about marriage and society, he loves and is extremely affectionate towards Nora, but often treats her more as a pet, child, or object than as a true person. His ally is Dr. Rank, who visits him one day. However, this friendship is revealed to be something of a façade, as Torvald seems untroubled and even a touch relieved at the thought of Dr. Rank’s death. An identical occurrence happens when he finds out about Nora’s secret debt and instantly activates her until he realizes that his reputation is safe. Torvald’s specialization in status and being treated as superior by people like Nils Krogstad highlights his obsession with reputation and appearances. When Nora tells him she is leaving him, Torvald initially reacts by calling her mad and saying she is acting sort of a stupid child. However, when he realizes how resolute she is in her decision, Torvald offers to vary and desperately searches for how to remain together with her. His despair as Nora exits at the very end of the play suggests that, despite his patronizing and unjust treatment of her, Torvald does love Nora.

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