Torvald Helmer is the breadwinner and foundation for his household in Henrik Ibsen's play, A Doll House. His authoritative personality that holds the family together throughout the beginning of the play is what ends up tearing them apart in the end. His initial actions give the impression that he is a caring and devoted husband, but when trouble occurs it is apparent that this facade is to cover up his self-absorption.
Helmer's breadwinning is so important in fact that he has to find time to see his wife between working not only at the office, but at home as well. An example of this would be when he tells her that he "Can't be disturbed," (1569) when she asks him to see what she's bought. His work frequently occupies the time he could be spending with his family. Another example of his desire to be successful is when he says, "Ah, it's so gratifying to know that one's gotten a safe, secure job, and with a comfortable salary. It's a great satisfaction, isn't it?" (1571).
At times his authoritative personality can almost be taken as dictation. Within the first ten lines of the play he is already commenting on "the little spendthrift throwing money around again" (1569). Torvald always seems to want to control his wife's spending habits. In addition to the money she spends, he goes so far as to want control over her eating habits. This is evident when it seems as though she is trying to hide her food from him when the play says, "Nora shuts the door. Drawing a bag of macaroons from her pocket, she eats a couple, then steals over and listens at her husband's door Putting the macaroon bag in her pocket and wiping her mouth" (1569). A little later in the play Helmer is talking down to his wife interrogating her, "But wait; it seems to me you have a very suspicious look today- Surely my sweet tooth hasn't been running riot in town today, has she? Hasn't nibbled some pastry? Not even munched a macaroon or two?" (1571).