She has a loan of £250 from Krogstad which she is repaying as best she can. She does not work…
She pays around £6 per week to employ her maid
In London in the mid 19C Female copy clerks earned around £1 per week (Get a look at LUCY PICARD’S “Victorian London” – a great source book for interesting titbits).
She leaves to buck a trend expected and perhaps best represented in this poem by Coventry Patmore (a man writing about his wife..). Here’s a taste:
Man must be pleased; but him to please
Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf
Of his condoled necessities
She casts her best, she flings herself.
How often flings for nought, and yokes
Her heart to an icicle or whim,
Whose each impatient word provokes
Another, not from her, but him;
While she, too gentle even to force
His penitence by kind replies,
Waits by, expecting his remorse,
With pardon in her pitying eyes;
And if he once, by shame oppress’d,
A comfortable word confers,
She leans and weeps against his breast,
And seems to think the sin was hers;
Or any eye to see her charms,
At any time, she’s still his wife,
Dearly devoted to his arms;
She loves with love that cannot tire;
And when, ah woe, she loves alone,
Through passionate duty love springs higher,
As grass grows taller round a stone.
Nora fits into a pattern of women in Literature who are depicted as breaking this mould – Jane Eyre, Tess to name a couple
She had to suffer a change of heart in the revised version of the play thought fit for German stages. In this version motherhood is seen as the highest virtue, far exceeding the right to be an individual human being.
Ibsen is not a “feminist” writer, he strives after the individual and follows Kierkegaard in seeing an existential need for all humans to forge their own existence. Nora does pre-echo some of the characters by the great feminist and proto-feminist writers such as Kate Chopin – look at my guide to the Awakening – Jean Rhys and Maya Angelou… all full of the “caged bird” imagery used here.