03/01/21, The Motivations of Krogstad

In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, the character Krogstad is supposed to be the main antagonist in the story. Superficially, this is true because what he does in the story works against in both action and incentive against what the main character, Nora, is trying to accomplish. When Nora’s husband Torvald was ill, she was forced to find a way to raise money to allow Torvald to vacation to warmer climates to regain his health. Out of lack of option, she was forced to borrow that money from Krogstad, however this was an unsavoury option since Krogstad and Torvald are strong enemies. Torvald and Krogstad had known each other since childhood, and as adults ended up working at the same bank business. Krogstad loathed Torvald’s high salary and his higher ranking job at the bank, while Torvald loathed Krogstad for his previous crime of forgery and disrespectful demeanor towards Torvald. This conflict worsened when Torvald became head of the bank, and decided to evict Krogstad from his job.

Krogstad, in Nora’s favour, decided to threaten to inform Torvald that Nora was indebted to him, and that Torvald can’t evict him. Torvald is severely opposed to any form of credit or debt taking, believing it shows an unethical use of money, something he is willing to enforce to extreme measures. Therefore, Krogstad is portrayed as the bad character, for trapping Nora in a very difficult position and exploiting their transaction in a way that most benefits himself, which would take away the stability of Nora and Torvald’s relationship once Torvald uncovers the plot. He seems not to care what happens with Nora and Torvald, showing no compassion or thinking about other perspectives rather than his own.

Is Krogstad a bad person? That is probably not true. Krogstad has suffered lots during his life. His true love, Kristine Linde, chose to marry a rich man instead of him, making him feel despaired. Somehow, supposedly Krogstad widowed a wife a while later, yet kept two children he had with her, inciting that it was probably his wife that left him instead, for he kept the children. Krogstad was then in financial difficulty and was likely forced to resort to forgery in order to produce the money he needed. He was however discovered by the law, and had to run away, probably moving with his children to the town where Torvald and Nora live. In the film rendition of the play, we even see Torvald’s house, a poor ramshackle flat with little decoration. Hardly comparable to Torvald’s home, a well-furnished, embroidered, and ornate multi-level large house. Even more, being in trouble with the law, Krogstad’s options for finding new jobs were few, and he would find difficulty climbing the social ladder to respectability, something he desperately wanted.

Therefore it is hard to condemn Krogstad, for he has been disenfranchised from love, wealth, comfort, and reputability. Torvald however, has all four. Torvald, as a stickler for the law, does not realize the law did not ensure equity, but only justice. Krogstad, stuck in a hard place, was inhibited by the law and its believers to regain his stance. Therefore, he felt justified to exploit his contract with Nora to secure his job, or else he would lose his flow of income.

The character Krogstad portrays a common theme throughout society: condemnation of the poor, and the hypocrisy of the rich. Rich people, although they may be equitable in how they get their money, are damaging to more unfortunate people through being blind to their suffering. Their ignorance to these people is something that has always been around throughout history, from feudal kingdoms to the Soviet Union. The rich live off the backs of the poor, who are not defended by laws to ensure how well off they are. So although at first glance Krogstad may seem as an inconsiderate and exploitive person, further inspection shows that he is simply struggling to survive like many people before and after him. The law is not going to help him, therefore he disrespects it and its believers and chooses to enforce the safety of his job through the contract with Nora, even if he must cause some damage to other people in order to get there.

3 thoughts on “03/01/21, The Motivations of Krogstad”

  1. You make a really interesting and valid point, Trevor. In the play, Torvald’s reason for firing Krogstad is so insignificant in comparison to the suffering it causes for Krogstad. I think Torvald doesn’t empathize with Krogstad’s situation at all. Often, people like Torvald look down on people like Krogstad, because they believe their low socioeconomic status is due to a lack of hard work. I believe it’s essential that people consider different viewpoints when acting in a situation like this one. Good job!

  2. I hadn’t made the connection between Krogstad and poverty. I think you raise a really interesting point about impoverished people being condemned for immoral actions that are sometimes necessary for them to take. It’s a very interesting topic.

  3. Hey Trevor, I liked how you focused primarily on Krogstad’s character. You went very in-depth into the themes Krogstad portrays. When you brought up Krogstad in relation to the poor I was impressed since this was something that was not very obvious within the story, however, your explanation was very helpful for proving this connection. Trevor, you have done an excellent job in explaining Torvald’s life, actions, themes, and motives. Good Job!
    🙂

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