At the start of the play one of the first words used by Nora is “…hide…” Whilst this word is used alongside the stage directions it suggests deception and concealment. Even though Nora uses the word “hide” in order to hide the Christmas tree from her children because she wants it to be a surprise for them, it makes the audience of the play think. It makes the audience aware of the fact that the word “hide” itself has set the scene. We realise that Nora may be “hiding” other things apart from the Christmas tree, we begin to realise that Nora may be hiding and concealing other things from her family besides just the Christmas tree.
In this scene Nora gives money to a Porter, we already know from the stage directions that the Helmer’s are not exactly rich people, however the way in which Nora says to the Porter “…Here’s a pound. No, keep it…” would make the audience think that Nora was from a very rich family, but at this stage as we already know that the Helmer’s are already having financial difficulties, it makes Nora look and seem as though she is a very irresponsible character. Where as Torvald is shown to be a very responsible character who is aware of all the financial problems of the family. However as the play goes on the audience come to realise that in fact Nora is aware of all the financial problems and she is not as irresponsible as she is made out to be at the beginning of the play. It is the reverse, Torvald is the irresponsible one not Nora.
Nora is also shown to be very immature and like a child. From the start, Nora is infantilised: she sneakily munches macaroons when her husband isn’t looking, and his pet names for her have a subordinating effect. Nora is also always creeping up on Torvald and checking on him while he is working in his study room. She even eaves drops at her husband’s door. These are a few of the many elements used by Ibsen to show the level of immaturity of Nora.
Nora’s husband, Torvald sees Nora as a child. He feels that she belongs to him and is possessive over her. He treats her like a possession that he uses when he wants or needs to and when he doesn’t want to know her he just indulges and patronises her by speaking down to her, in a father-daughter like relationship. This makes it clear to the audience that the relationship between Nora and Torvald is not an adult relationship but is in fact a father-daughter relationship. The dialogues used by Torvald create plenty of animal imagery. He takes away Nora’s human identity by comparing her to an animal, thus dehumanising her. Torvald likes to call Nora a “squirrel”, this reflects on Nora as squirrels tend to hide nuts away from others in winter, in this same way it is winter and Nora is hiding all her secrets from others.
Inheritance is a very important aspect of the play. It is an important reoccurring theme mentioned at the beginning of Act 1, however at this point in the play the aspect of inheritance has not been developed, but later we realise that inheritance is important in the play. Ibsen has cleverly mentioned heritance without fully developing the point, to prepare the audience for what has yet to come. Torvald compare Nora to her father: referring to inheritance from her father he says, “…you are an odd little soul. Very like your father.”
Meaning she has inherited qualities from her father, whether they are good or bad qualities there is still reference to inheritance. Ibsen also mentions a bookcase of Torvald’s. Here Ibsen has chosen his vocabulary carefully. Ibsen uses a “small” bookcase rather than a “big” bookcase. This is so that the audience can see the restrictions for someone like Torvald who is supposed to be a well-educated man. The fact that there is a small bookcase shows us that Torvald lacks knowledge and is very narrow minded.
The play has been termed to be a “Well made play”, which is true. The play had been well made by Ibsen as he left no loose ends and everything that happened in the play happened for a reason. The vocabulary used by Ibsen was also very cleverly chosen, as Ibsen did not waste words. The opening scenes of the play forecast what will happen throughout the rest of the play, and how Nora travels through a journey from immaturity to maturity and from ignorance to knowledge.