Definitive moment for the drama “A Doll’s House”
The play “A Doll’s House”, was written by Author Henrik Ibsen, in 1879, and premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen Denmark. (Lee, J. 2007, para 1). The definitive moment in the play was when the character Niles Krogstad says to Nora “If I lose everything all over again, this time you’re going down with me.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 567). This is the definitive moment, making it the most important scene in the play because it creates a cornerstone for the rest of the drama to unfold.
Krogstad was able back up what he said because Nora, in a desperate attempt to save her husband years earlier, forged her dying father’s signature on a legal business document, and Krogstad has the documentation to prove it in court if he wanted too. But Nora’s husband, Torvald Helmer, did not know anything about it.
Krogstad had a bad reputation in the business world. In act one of the play, the character Mrs. Linde was referring to Krogstad when she said “They say he’s mixed up in a lot of questionable business.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 562). Later in the play Krogstad admitted he did something foolish many years ago, which cost him his job and gave him a bad reputation around town. After that it was very hard for Krogstad to get a job, or any respect in the town. Mr. Krogstad did get a low level job at the bank though. But now his job is at risk, and its Nora’s fault because she talked her husband, Helmer, who is going to be taking over the bank that Krogstad works at, into giving his job to Nora’s friend Mrs. Linde. Krogstad really does not want to lose his job, so when Krogstad says “If I lose everything all over again, this time you’re going down with me.”(Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 567). He is saying that if Nora does not succeed in convincing her husband into letting Krogstad keep his job, then Krogstad is going to prosecute Nora in a court of law for committing fraud.
Furthermore, a lot of the play is centered around weather or not Nora’s husband, Torvald, will find out about Nora’s debt, and the fraud that went with it. If he did, surely he would pay it off for Nora, but he would also be very disappointed that Nora kept a secret from him for so many years. Also, he would have to face the fact that Nora committed fraud against Krogstad. Nora did not want this to happen.
Afterward, the drama escalates because of the definitive moment, showing that Kroonstad’s line to Nora truly was the definitive moment. For example, Nora asked her husband what it was that Krogstad did to get his bad reputation. Torvald replied “He forged someone’s name. Do you have any idea what that means?” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 568) This reveals to the audience (and Nora) that, according to the letter of the law, Nora is guilty of the exact same thing Krogstad is guilty of. Then shortly thereafter Torvald goes on to say “Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and act like a hypocrite with everyone, how he has to wear a mask in front of the people closest to him, even with his own wife and children. And the children. That’s the most terrible part of it all, Nora.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 568) Torvald is referring to Krogstad, but what he does not know is that he might just as well referring to his wife. Nora replies “How so?” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 568)
Next, the dialog continues to add drama to the play that could only have taken place because of the definitive moment. Torvald continues “Because an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole life of a home. Every breath the children take in a house like that is full of the germs of moral corruption.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 568) Nora replies “Are you sure of that?” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 569) Then Torvald replies My dear, I’ve seen it many times in my legal career. Almost everyone who’s gone wrong at a young age had a dishonest mother.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 569) Torvald, without realizing it, has basically just told Nora that their children are going to be morally corrupt and it all Nora’s fault for signing her papa’s name in forgery then keeping it a secret. Then Nora replies “Why only the mother?” Torvald gives the answer “It usually seems to be the mother’s influence, though naturally a bad father would have the same result. Every lawyer knows this. This Krogstad, now, has been systematically poisoning his own children with lies and deceit. That’s why I say he’s lost all moral character. And that’s why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to plead his cause. Give me your hand on it. Come now, what’s this? Give me your hand. There, that’s settled. Believe me, it would be impossible for me to work with him. It literally makes me feel physically ill to be around people like that.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 567). This conversation between Torvald and Nora makes it very clear to Nora that her husband is most utterly against Krogstad for the forgery he committed, not knowing that his wife is guilty of the exact same thing. This now creates the untold meaning that if Torvald ever found out that Nora was guilty of the same thing as Krogstad, he would be torn emotionally. This also puts Nora in a very difficult place as Krogstad has vowed to tell Torvald as soon as he is fired from his job at Torvald command. This unleashes all the drama that follows until the end of the play.
Another aspect that shows Krogstad’s threat to Nora is the definitive moment is when Nora’s begins to question her humanity. According to Josephine Lee “Nora’s understanding of her humanity and freedom is intimately linked to a particularly modern notion of self, autonomy, ownership, and property. Nora’s humanity relies on a sense that she is the exclusive owner of herself, her body and her work.” (Lee, J. 2007, para 12) If Krogstad had never threatened Nora, Nora’s line of thinking of leaving Torvald and her children to go discover would never come about and she would have stayed with Torvald.
In conclusion, The “definitive moment” in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House was when the character Niles Krogstad says to Nora “If I lose everything all over again, this time you’re going down with me.” (Ibsen, 2011, Act 1, p. 567). And boy was Krogstad correct in this definitive moment. More than Krogstad would have guested. This is the definitive moment, making it the most important scene in the play that defined the rest of the play.