There is no question that Christine Linde and Nils Krogstad are of vital importance to the play “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, but what is it that makes them so significant? Ibsen was controversial in his presentation of ‘A Doll’s House’, challenging traditional stereotypes and social norms. Mrs.Linde and Krogstad play a significant role in showing Ibsen’s negative opinions of Victorian Society. They are both characters that seem to be tarnished by their past: Mrs.Linde has been left a lonely widow without job prospects and Krogstad has committed forgery and therefore has been shunned by the community. However, it seems to be this that brings them together; at the beginning of the play they both seem to be lost characters, Mrs.Linde has no life plan and comes to Nora pleading for help and a job, whereas Krogstad is in the firing line at the bank..
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Mrs. Linde, even though she is the same age as Nora, has been through a lot more in terms of life experiences: “A heartless woman jilts a man when a more lucrative chance turns up”  Her state of mind seems “much, much older”  than Nora at first, due to her many years in the labour force, where she worked hard to sustain her family. Her mother was sick, and from a very young age, she had to take care of her brothers, forcing her to work very early for as much money as she could find. Creating this difficult background to Mrs.Linde, Ibsen draws a strong work ethic within her character, contrasting her with the traditional female role of the Victorian Era. When Mr. Linde entered her life, she seized the opportunity to support her family at the cost of her love for Krogstad. However when Mr Linde passed away, she was left with nothing to her name and she feels she no longer has anything to work for; instead of feeling relief, she feels her life is “unspeakably empty”  . It seems her working life has made her opportunistic, as Mrs. Linde has after all visited Nora to ask for employment.
It is clear that Mrs Linde has experienced many more negative events in her lifetime than, a character such as Nora. She is deeply influenced by her life experience. Towards the end of the play, she plays the major role of encouraging Krogstad to hand in the letter that is to cause havoc in the Helmer household. She does this to ‘help’ Nora in her family life, thinking that Torvald would understand the sacrifices that Nora has made for him. It is clear that she encourages honesty over secrecy, for the sake of having “a complete understanding between them (Nora and Torvald)”  . Do her actions throughout the play make her a good person? It is hard to decide, as in some cases, Mrs Linde does appear to be quite selfish, looking to Nora’s husband to get a job: “I was delighted not so much on your account as on my own”  . On the other hand, she invokes the idea of morality into the play, she advises Nora to confess to Torvald and in addition to this, attempts to save Torvald’s reputation. Her role in the play is undisputedly a major one as she is a catalyst for what seemed inevitable. This means that Torvald would have found out about Nora’s adventures anyways, seeing as Nora seemed so eager to prove that she had some working experience when Mrs Linde asked her. She also serves as a buffer, to avoid tarnishing Torvald’s reputation as she discourages Krogstad from releasing the incriminating letter that may have caused an uproar if it were released to the public.
Nils Krogstad serves as an alternative portrayal of the male role in ‘A Doll’s House’. Here, Ibsen manages to create a man who is looked down on for his failure as he himself committed the same crime as Nora; forgery. He seems at first to be a suspicious character, someone shrouded in secrecy, but also full of shame and regret for his past mistakes. He is a hardworking man, who wants to raise his children with decency so that they can grow up to be respected members of the community, unlike their father, who was shunned by the people after he destroyed his own reputation. He is the play’s main antagonist, but this title seems a bit unfair. Although he does make some quite serious threats, implying that “it will be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald Helmer who manages the bank”  , Krogstad is actually just a man who is tired of being looked down upon. He is a very clever man, not afraid or intimidated by anything that Nora threatens him with. He is not afraid to use drastic measures to obtain what he wants: “Suppose I were to tell him (Torvald)”  about the signature that Nora forged. It is in fact not until we get to the very start of Act III that we see the lighter side of Krogstad, when he speaks to Mrs Linde about their affair and his mistake in the past. He is a man who has been emotionally wounded and still feels angry at others around him because of the injustice that he had suffered most of his life. He describes himself as a “shipwrecked man clinging to a bit of wreckage”  . It is therefore understandable that Krogstad might want to have his revenge, in any shape of form. In threatening Nora, he sees a way of redeeming himself in the eyes of the community that has looked down on him for so long. As his own forgery was discovered, perhaps he considers it to be fair that someone else should have to suffer the same dilemma, knowing that at least, he is not the only one.
Krogstad seems to be more of a victim than an oppressor, but this seems to be more a case of the bullied becoming the bully, in a more developed way. As mentioned before, he only wants to regain his reputation in order to grant his children a better life than he lived. In this way, Krogstad becomes more than just an antagonist. We see that he is a character with feelings and wants to defend his honour by damaging that of others: “â€¦ a man like me, can have a little of what you call feelingâ€¦”  By informing Nora of his discovery of the forged signature, he becomes the spark ignites the pla’s main action. Without his intervention, the play would have gone nowhere at all. It seems he is involved in nearly every major event that happens in the book, even causing Nora to leave her house and children in search of herself. The simple appearance of his letter sets off something that, once started, would not stop until everything all the pieces of the play came together to bring us this astounding ending of the play. Even with Krogstad’s almost surreal change of heart, brought on by Mrs Linde, the play takes an even more interesting turn, and Torvald’s true personality is revealed, one of the main factors that caused Nora to leave his house.
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Both Mrs Linde and Krogstad worked towards a common goal, the truth. Mrs Linde felt that if it was not told, the situation at home for Nora would deteriorate anyway, and Krogstad felt that he could bring about some justice if he let the world know that he was not a bad man, but only a person that has purely suffered dearly for his mistakes. Whether or not personal gain was a motivation for the two characters is arguable, as both of them had lost something and only wished to have it replaced. For Mrs Linde it was a job and a former lover, and for Krogstad, his and his children’ reputation. In effect, the biggest and most important link they share is honesty. They feel that the events in the Helmer household have been hidden for too long and they should come together to help rectify the situation.
Christine Linde and Nils Krogstad can definitely be considered to be the main cause of the action that occurs in the Helmer household. They give the audiences a different point of view to the way that Nora and Torvald lived, purely by the fact that society has caused them to suffer so much. Both of them seek the revelation of the Helmers’ deep dark secret, in order to help but also teach the Helmers. Through these two characters, Ibsen questions the righteousness of traditional stereotypes as they both seem to be ones which wouldn’t have been trusted in the play but in fact turn out to be the couple whose morality and compassion prevails over their dark pasts.
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