Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House was considered scandalous in its time. In the final scene of the play, wife and mother Nora leaves her husband and children in order to find herself. At that time, a woman's place was in the home taking care of her husband and children, so to have Nora abandon her family was seen as outrageous and immoral. In response to criticism and fears surrounding the play, Ibsen wrote an alternate, "happy" ending, in which Nora sacrifices her own freedom to stay with her family. Because the final scene is so crucial to the themes of the play, the alternate ending changes its entire meaning.
The play begins with Nora making preparations for Christmas. In the first act, she appears to be happy with her role as wife and mother. She believes that her marriage to Torvald is a great success, and his lucrative job at the bank will provide her with all the material things she desires. Outwardly, Nora seems to be nothing more than her husband's doll, a possession that he shows off. However, we learn that there is more to Nora. When her husband faced a medical emergency, it was Nora who took it upon herself to raise the money for a life-saving trip to Italy. Not only did she act against the conventions of society by borrowing money, she also broke the law by forging her father's signature on the loan.
Nora believes she did what any loving spouse would do and calls the law "very poor". She doesn't want her husband to know how she got the money for fear it would destroy his "masculine pride." Secretly, however, Nora imagines that if he found out, her husband would shoulder all the blame out of love for her. .
When Nora is blackmailed by Krogstad, a bank employee with a shady past, she is forced to reexamine her husband, her marriage, and herself. In the third and final act, Torvald receives a letter from Krogstad explaining how Nora borrowed the money.