The Need to Nurture

HEL. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as a lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother.

NORA. Why do you only say- mother?

HAL. It seems most commonly to be the mother’s influence, though naturally a bad father’s would have the same result. Every lawyer is familiar with the face. This Krogstad, now, had been persistently poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I say he has lost all moral character… I literally feel physically ill when I am in the company of such people.

[…]

NURSE. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come in to Mamma.

NORA. No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay with them, Anne.

NURSE. Very well, ma’am. [Shuts the door]

NORA. [pale with terror]. Deprave my little children? Poison my home? [A short pause. The she tosses her head.] It’s not true. It can’t possibly be true.

At this point we have learned about Nora’s forgery crime but she has not yet exhibited much guilt. During this conversation with her husband, she first seems bothered when she realizes how disgusted her husband is with Krogstad for committing the same crime as she did. However, what seems to bother her most is the thought that her actions could negatively affect her children.

Through most of the play the maid is caring for the children but when Nora is with them she appears to be a very beloved and affectionate mother to her children. Nora also takes pride in the fact that her actions kept her husband alive when he fell ill years earlier. Though her husband constantly condescends to her and believes she is completely dependent on him, she keeps many things from him and even plays into his expectations of her in order to feed his masculinity or to get her way. Nora seems to understand her role and the advantages of being a beautiful woman. Her husband calls her “little squirrel” and scolds her for eating sweets as though she was his daughter and not his wife but she does not seem bothered by this. Even Nora likens her relationship with her husband to the one she had with her father. Only when her role as caretaker and mother is threatened does she become agitated. Dr. Rank is the personification of bad parenting as his own poor upbringing has manifested physically and threatens to take him away from her.  ­

Nora has accepted and learned to utilize her expected role but her need to nurture becomes a burden when she first takes out a loan to care for her husband and then has to prevent herself from being taken away from her children.

One thought on “The Need to Nurture

  1. earaff

    I think Nora has more than a need to nurture. To me, she seems to live more for others than for anyone else. It is though she does not care for herself at all, but instead chooses to live vicariously through her children. It is true that she appreciates her advantages, but that does not mean that she truly knows who she is. She only knows her role. She impersonates her husband to care for her children. This signifies someone who has completely lost her sense of self, and only truly lives for those around her. An admirable quality in a mother, but one that cannot be sustained to any good effect.

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