Character Analysis of Nils Krogstad

Nils Krogstad, one of the major characters of the play, uses some villainous tactics during the course of the play. He intimidates, blackmails, and threatens Nora to keep his job at the bank.

After Helmer terminates him from his job, Krogstad takes a step further saying, “It will be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald Helmer who manages the Bank”. Now, if this were a melodrama, Krogstad would most likely twirl his black moustache and cackle diabolically after such a statement. This, however, is realism; Ibsen’s characters demonstrate a complexity absent in the characters of the popular melodramas of his day.

Krogstad is a prime example of these new, more textured and more realistic characters. He wants to regain his standing in the community. He tells Nora, “I want to rehabilitate myself”. Ever since he got caught in a forgery scheme back in the day, everybody thinks he is a nasty, terrible person.

Sure, he did commit a crime, but it was pretty small. Nora, our sympathetic protagonist, is also guilty of exactly the same thing. After the community turned its back on him, Krogstad was forced into the unsavoury business of money lending and blackmailing to support his family. In a way, it was the community’s close-minded lack of forgiveness that created him. Here again, we see the central motif of all of Ibsen’s plays: the individual vs. society.

We get hints throughout the whole play that, underneath Krogstad’s villainous exterior, a respectable gentleman is waiting to emerge. Whenever he deals with Nora, he’s pretty courteous. One of the most poignant moments between the two is when they commiserate about their suicidal thoughts. He tells her, “Most of us think of that at first. I did, too – but I hadn’t the courage”. She replies quietly, “No more had I”.

When Krogstad reunites with Christine, he is fully redeemed. If not for Christine’s dissuasion, he would’ve even demanded his letter back unopened, so that Helmer would never have known anything. Instead, he writes a new letter, telling Helmer that he “regrets and repents” upon his actions, and willingly releases them from his clutches. Interestingly, Krogstad’s final revelation is one of self-fulfilment, just like Nora. Yes, it seems that when Christine reassuringly says, “Nils, I have faith in your real character,” Krogstad is finally able to once again find faith in himself.

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