A need for money affects all the main characters in A Doll’s House. At the beginning of the play, it’s revealed that Torvald was recently promoted and can receive “a big fat income,” however he still chastises Nora for spendingan excessive amount of, arguing that they have to take care of financially. Mrs. Linde is in desperate need of employment following the death of her husband, and after her replacement of Krogstad at the bank leaves him threatening to show Nora in to urge his job back. Indeed, the bank works as a logo for the pervasive presence of cash within the characters’ lives.
In the play, money symbolizes the power and dominance that the characters have over each other. In the first scene, Torvald’s ability to dictate what proportion Nora spends on Christmas presents shows his power over her. Meanwhile, the debt that Nora owes Krogstad allows him to possess power over her and Torvald. Both Nora and Mrs.Linde cannot earn large incomes because they’re women; their inability to access significant amounts of cash is a method that they’re oppressed by the sexism of the time.
The play also shows that, while earning money results in power, it also can be dangerous. In the beginning of the play, Nora is pleased with the very fact that she “raised” the cash for her and Torvald’s trip to Italy. However, the debt she owes soon becomes a source of terror, dread, and shame. The joys of obtaining money are therefore shown to possess a downside.