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A Doll's House Essay

1565 words - 7 pages

The Puppet On Strings
Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House is a portrayal of a Victorian lifestyle in the 1800’s, when the men of the family were powerful figures and the women merely powerless in their own homes. Throughout the entire piece, Ibsen included many symbols to show the mistreatment of women in the Victorian era. During the 1800’s, the time period this play was based in, women had little to no control or power, merely accessories for their husbands to wear to events, “trophy wives”. In A Doll’s House, Torvald, being the man of the house, makes all of the executive decisions, when he tells Nora to jump, she asks how high. Throughout the entire story, Nora is treated like a naive ...view middle of the document...

Torvald talks down to Nora as if she doesn’t have the capacity to understand him if he were to speak to her like an adult. His need to call Nora these degrading nicknames are jabs at her, to remind her that she is less than him. In the beginning of the play Torvald says, “Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (4; act 1). He calls her a squirrel and talks down to her as if she is a toddler. Nora accepts these nicknames for herself
and and has adapted to calling herself the names he has made up for her, “You haven’t any idea how many expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald” (6; act 1). Nora calling herself the naive nicknames that Torvald has made up for her shows the lack of power and courage she has, which disables her from standing up for herself. It is Torvald’s powerful presence that makes her feel as if she must obey the man of the house, because of the way society treated women during the Victorian era.
Macaroons are used in this play as a symbol to exemplify how Torvald has complete control over what Nora does, even what she eats. Ibsen includes this symbol in the play because it shows how Torvald doesn’t just have power over her emotionally, but controls what she does to her body physically as well. Torvald creating this rule in the play, stating that Nora may not eat the macaroons, draws more attention to the parent-child relationship that they have. Torvald being the parent, the one with the power and Nora being the child, the obeyer. At the beginning of the play, Torvald is skeptical and believes that Nora has broken this rule, “Hasn’t Miss Sweet-Tooth been breaking rules in town to-day?” (6; act 1). Nora responds quickly promising that she had not broken the rules that he has made. By Nora insisting that she didn’t break the rules that Torvald has created, shows an acceptance power that her husband has over her. Later in the play, the macaroons start to symbolize secrecy in fear of consequences because of the rule that Nora may not eat them. Dr. Rank questions why Nora has macaroons in the house, knowing that they are forbidden and to save herself, she quickly puts the blame on Christine, saying that she brought them without knowing the rules of the Helmer house, “Oh, well don’t be alarmed! You couldn’t know that Torvald had forbidden them” (17; act 1). Because of the power and pressure Torvald puts on Nora, she feels like she must lie, to escape from the consequences or the disappointment that may follow.
The Tarantella dance and costume represent the force Torvald has on Nora, both personally and publicly. Ibsen includes this symbol to show how in the play, Torvald feels as if he must dress Nora up and teach her specific things to do in public, so he doesn’t create embarrassment for himself in society’s eyes. In the play Torvald chooses her costume and teaches her a very precise dance that he expects her to memorize and perfect. When they are...

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