How is money made central to characters' concerns in this act?
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The transaction between Nora and the porter that opens A Doll’s House immediately puts the spotlight on money, which emerges as one of the forces driving the play’s conflicts as it draws lines between genders, classes, and moral standards. Though Nora owes the porter fifty øre (a Norwegian unit of currency), she gives him twice that amount, presumably because she is infused with the holiday spirit. While Nora likes to spend and allows the idea of buying presents to block out financial concerns, Torvald holds a more pragmatic view of money, jokingly calling Nora a spendthrift and telling her that she is completely foolish when it comes to financial matters.
Torvald’s assertion that Nora’s lack of understanding of money matters is the result of her gender (“Nora, my Nora, that is just like a woman”) reveals his prejudiced viewpoint on gender roles. Torvald believes a wife’s role is to beautify the home, not only through proper management of domestic life but also through proper behavior and appearance. He quickly makes it known that appearances are very important to him, and that Nora is like an ornament or trophy that serves to beautify his home and his reputation.