Romeo Montague, Scout Finch, and Dorothy Gale. All of these characters have one main thing in common. They are all the protagonists in their stories, meaning that they are one of the main characters. A vast majority novels and plays are often focused on the main characters present in the work and minor characters are often seen as insignificant in the reader’s eyes.
In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, this is very much so not true, especially in regards to the character Krogstad. In the play, Krogstad manages Nora’s bank loan, is friendly with Torvald, is in love with Mrs. Linde, and helps to reveal the true nature of Nora, all of which are significant to the development of the plot. Firstly, when Torvald is ill, Nora borrows money from the bank, through Krogstad, to fund their trip to Italy to try to find a cure. This gives Krogstad a significant role as he is able to threaten Nora using the loan. One example of this is when Krogstad suggests, “Under the ice, maybe? Down in the freezing, coal-black water? There, till you float up in the spring, ugly, unrecognizable, with your hair falling out-” (Ibsen 999). In order for Krogstad to get his way, he is willing to perform drastic measures, such trying to intimidate Nora. This gives him an advantage over Nora as she has to worry about her safety and comply with him.
Alongside the threatening, Krogstad is also able to control Nora through her bank loan. This is evident when Krogstad states, “Are you forgetting that I’ll be in control then over your final reputation?” (999). Krogstad is able to blackmail Nora using the forged signature on the bank loan, due to Torvald’s dislike for borrowing money. As stated in the quote, Krogstad is in control of Nora which drastically shifts the plot, considering there would not be a main issue in the story if the bank loan did not happen. This bank loan causes Nora to frantically go behind Torvald’s back to attempt to stop Krogstad’s letter, containing all of Nora’s hard kept secrets, from reaching Torvald.
Additionally, Krogstad has a significant role in the play due to him having previous relations with Torvald.Secondly, Krogstad has a key role in the text due to his relationship with Torvald. When Nora tries to convince Torvald to keep Krogstad at the bank, Torvald could have considered it, if he had not known Krogstad. This is evident when Torvald says, “And I hear he’s quite efficient on the job. But he was a crony of mine back in my teens-one of those rash friendships that crop up again and again to embarrass you later in life” (993). Because Krogstad had previous relations with Torvald, he becomes more likely to be fired, and thus more likely to change how the play ends, as Krogstad is crucial to Nora’s survival in her marriage.
Likewise, in the play, Torvald tells Nora, “Well, I might as well say it straight out: we’re on a first name basis. And that tactless fool makes no effort at all to hide it in front of others” (Ibsen 993). Krogstad clearly calls Torvald by his first name at work in the bank, and Torvald has very little appreciation for this. Because of this, Torvald is more inclined to send Krogstad’s resignation notice, which causes more pressure on Nora, advancing the plot, and eventually ending with Nora’s departure. Much like with Torvald, Krogstad also had an even greater relationship with Mrs. Linde.
Thirdly, Krogstad being in love with Mrs. Linde is significant to advancing the plot, making him very significant, for a minor character. Towards the end of the novel, Mrs. Linde suggests that she and Krogstad should be together.
This is shown in the conversation between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad, when Mrs. Linde says, “I need to have someone to care for; and your children need a mother. We both need each other” (Ibsen 1006).
This new relationship between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad becomes very key for the plot, specifically leading to Mrs. Linde changing her mind about Nora and Torvald. This is demonstrated when Mrs. Linde says, “I’ve seen such incredible things in this house.
Helmer’s got to learn everything; this dreadful secret has to be aired; those two have to come to a full understanding; all these lives and evasions can’t go on” (1007). After Mrs. Linde tells Krogstad not to take back his letter, he decides to go along with her. This is largely important for the plot considering it is near the climax of the play and changes the ending of the play drastically.
Because of Krogstad and Mrs. Linde’s relationship, Nora ends up leaving Torvald and her children behind to try to live a better life, signifying how significant Krogstad’s role in the play is. Lastly, the plot is developed by Krogstad exposing Nora’s true personality. One demonstration of this is when Krogstad threatens Nora with the bank loan, and he says, “I’ll just hold onto it-keep it on file. There’s no outsider who’ll even get wind of it.
So if you’ve been thinking of taking some desperate step-” (999) and Nora responds saying, “I have” (999). After Krogstad suggests them, Nora agrees she has thought of taking desperate actions, which shows how she is not loyal to Torvald. She considers running away and or suicide even though she went behind Torvald’s back in the first place. In addition, Nora turns out to be selfish, shown in the conversation between Krogstad and Nora about the forged signature, where Krogstad asks, “But didn’t you ever consider that this was a fraud against me?” (984), and Nora replies, “I couldn’t let myself be bothered by that. You weren’t any concern of mine. I couldn’t stand you, with all those cold complications you made, even though you knew how badly off my husband was” (984). Nora only seems to care for her well being, and does not think about how other people around her are affected. These characteristics of Nora, revealed by Krogstad, are significant to the development of the plot as Nora is one of the main characters of the novel, and the main issue of the novel is Nora’s bank loan and keeping her relationship.
The novel is entirely based on the selfish actions that are made by Nora from the start which eventually end with Nora leaving Torvald, much like how she predicted she would. Overall, because of his duty as Nora’s bank manager, his friendship with Torvald, his newly found love for Mrs. Linde and his ability to reveal Nora’s true nature, Krogstad is an incredibly significant character, considering he is a minor character. His role largely affects the plot of A Doll’s House, showing that even minor characters are essential to novels and plays.
It is often the minor characters whose roles are to push the plot forward and reveal information about the main characters that turn out to be crucial for the novel as a whole, much like what Krogstad did throughout the novel. Because of this, it is clear that minor characters in novels and plays are actually not quite as minor as they may seem.