In Act I of A Doll’s House, we are immediately forced to form an opinion of Miss Nora, and an unfavorable one at that. Her husband Torvald repeatedly patronizes her using words such as “pretty little,” “spendthrift,” and various comparisons to birds (a trope pertaining to women found often in literature, suggesting that Nora is somehow caged). Nora does nothing to change our initial impression of her, if not she worsens it in her lie to Mrs. Linde. In speaking of her trip to Italy, Nora tells Mrs. Linde that she procured all of the funds for said trip by herself. At first she attempts to tell the truth, she got a loan in secret despite the legal issues it could possibly bring, but in hearing her friend’s response she fabricates a lie. This lie paints her in a better view in the reader’s eyes (Nora is a strong woman, working to keep her family), yet nevertheless, she is later outed to us by Krogstad.
In the reveal that she owes Krogstad the entire sum of money spent on the Italy trip, we learn why her husband comparing her to birds is not just a term of endearment (at least metaphorically). Nora is in debt and, putting it bluntly, she is being blackmailed by this man. There is no clear way for her recover from this, especially with her husband refusing to listen to her forced pleas about allowing Krogstad to keep his position at the Bank.