A Doll’s House exposes the restricted role of girls during the time of its writing and therefore the problems that arise from a drastic imbalance of power between men and women. Throughout the play, Nora is treated as a sort of child by the opposite characters. Torvald calls her his “pet” and his “property,” and implies that she isn’t smart or responsible enough to be trusted with money. Neither Krogstad nor Dr.Rank takes her seriously, and even Mrs. Linde calls her a “child.” While this treatment does seem to mildly frustrate Nora, she plays alongside it, calling herself “little Nora” and promising that she would never dream of disobeying her husband. However, there are clues that she isn’t entirely proud of the limited position she has as a lady. When revealing the key of how she borrowed money to finance the trip to Italy, she refers thereto as her “pride” and says it had been fun to be on top of things of cash, explaining that it had been “almost like being a person”.
Although she regrets her decision to borrow money, Nora’s dissatisfaction together with her status as a lady intensifies over the course of the play. Within the final scene, she tells Torvald that she isn’t being treated as an independent person with a mind of her own. Her radical solution to the present issue is to go away domestic life behind, despite Torvald’s declaration that he will change. Nora’s decision suggests that she, and therefore the play, see the difficulty as only partially with Torvald. The more fundamental issue is with domestic life because it was conceived and lived at the time, within the way it legally and culturally infantilized women and made it impossible for them to be recognized or treated as full individuals.
Meanwhile, the lads of the play also are expected to fill a particular role. Both Torvald and Krogstad are very ambitious, driven not only by the necessity to supply for his or her families but also by a desire to realize seniority. Respectability is of great concern to both of them; when Nora’s borrowing is revealed, Torvald’s first thoughts are for his reputation. Meanwhile, Krogstad is fixated on achieving success now that he has “gone straight,” and intends to at least one day take over Torvald’s job and run the bank.