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What is the significance of the sub-plot in 'A Doll's House'; what contribution do Nils Krogstad and Kristina Linde make towards our understanding of relationships within the Helmer family?

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Introduction

What is the significance of the sub-plot in 'A Doll's House'; what contribution do Nils Krogstad and Kristina Linde make towards our understanding of relationships within the Helmer family? A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen presents the clever employment of climactic plot construction, in which the subplot plays a significant role in aiding our understanding. The plot revolves around relationship dilemmas within the lives of Torvald and Nora. Ibsen has incorporated a sub-plot that serves to provide a contrast with the relationship between the Helmers. The secondary characters of the play, Kristina Linde and Nils Krogstad, have a considerable impact. This essay will consider their significance and the three main aspects involved - direct influence on course of events through blackmail and the two letters; Kristina's provision of an opportunity for Nora to reveal her secret; and the contrasting nature of the relationships - mutuality compared with dominance. A sub-plot can enhance the main plot, and facilitate different perspectives on the central themes in a work. It is often used as a catalyst to develop the action's build-up to the climax of the plot and bring it to the next stage. ...read more.

Middle

Using Kristina in a supporting role, Ibsen has opened the opportunity for Nora to reveal the secret that she has been keeping from Torvald. She is a confidante for Nora and witnesses that Nora is not a child, but just acting to fit into the role Torvald has made for her. The conversation leading up to Nora's revelation offers us a noteworthy clue as to why she reveals her deepest secret to Kristina, whom she has not been in contact for nearly a decade. Nora's appearance and surroundings seem to define her as a winner in the game of life compared to Kristina, and she shows off to Kristina, inviting her guest's admiration of her and the life she has. But Kristina speaks slightingly of Nora, reminding her of her childishness, spendthrift ways and how little she has had to worry about in life, in effect, challenging her, "You're only a baby, Nora!"4 That remark challenges Nora's ego and sets her talking about her forgery to prove how much she has been through and that other people's perception of her childishness is mistaken, subsequently allowing her the only chance to be openly proud of saving Torvald's life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore it lightens our perception of him as a loathsome character. Ibsen ensures that the audience sees only a compilation of Torvald's negative points: his entrenched views of male superiority, him brusquely dismissing his children rather than showing parental affection, and immaturity in facing life's reality; with little redeeming features. The negative impression developed towards Torvald further places Krogstad in a positive outlook; he therefore serves as a foil for Torvald. Krogstad reveals the truth, reforms, and becomes a better man. He tries to clean up his reputation and improve his social standing so that he can be a better father to his children. Although Krogstad is a manipulator, this deception develops into the truth. All the immoral actions he attempts involving Nora end up actually helping her. The position he placed her in made her realize that she needs a change in her life. We can therefore see the importance of the contribution that Krogstad and Kristina make to the play. They provide the audience with a contrasting perspective to that of Nora and Torvald's. There are certainly similarities between the characters, but there are also differences. Both couples face similar problems, especially the need to face the truth in personal relationships. Their problems illustrate the basic theme of social conformity and bring out aspects of Nora's character that are essential to understanding her more fully. ...read more.

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