In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Christine Linde surprises Nora Helmer with a visit to her house. The two women were childhood friends and have not seen each other in many years. As both characters’ qualities unfold during the play, it is easy to see how Mrs. Linde’s character traits underscore those of Nora’s. Mrs. Linde’s serious, responsible nature amplifies Nora’s playful, childlike personality; Mrs. Linde’s taking care of her sick mother and two young brothers emphasizes Nora’s abandonment of her dying father; and finally Mrs. Linde deciding to marry Krogstad heightens the ending of Nora’s marriage.
When the audience first meets Mrs. Linde, she seems to be quite a contrast to the childish Nora. Nora is immature and irresponsible while Mrs. Linde come across as being intelligent and demure. When the two are conversing, Mrs. Linde’s quiet, reserved manner is dominated by Nora’s bold and frivolous behavior. Nora constantly talks about herself and her life, even when she insists that she is “not going to be selfish today, I’m just going to think about you” (Ibsen, 373). She then decides that she “must” tell her good friend something; she goes into speaking about her and her husband’s good luck and good fortune, which is enhanced by Mrs. Linde’s bad luck and her poverty (Ibsen, 373). Mrs. Linde’s husband did not have good fortune–he died and then his business went bankrupt. Mrs. Linde and her husband’s misfortune intensify the good luck Nora and her husband have.
Both Nora and Mrs. Linde had ill parents. Mrs. Linde, however chose to care for her sick mother and her two younger brothers while, Nora completely neglected her father. Mrs. Linde took on as many jobs as she could to “make ends meet” and have enoug…
…nt to continue living in the “doll house”; she does not want to be a “doll” anymore. She leaves Torvald and her children behind and gains her freedom. Mrs. Linde’s decision to marry amplifies Nora’s decision to leave.
The contrast in characteristics between Nora and Mrs. Linde intensify Nora’s qualities. Nora’s actions and behaviors are exaggerated because Mrs. Linde’s are just the opposite. The way in which Mrs. Linde lived her life underscores Nora’s way of life. The differences in Mrs. Linde and Nora’s life allow Nora’s characteristics to stand out. Mrs. Linde’s role in A Doll’s House is to set off Nora’s qualities as a character.
Henderson, Gloria Mason, Bill Day, and Sandra Stevenson Waller, Eds. Literature and Ourselves. 4th ed. New York: Longman, 2003.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Henderson, Day, and Waller. 367-423.