Dollhouse: A Doll ' s House and Torvald Essay

Submitted By melanierths
Words: 1543
Pages: 7

Melanie Rodriguez
Professor Troyan
ENWR 106-35
3 February 2012
Trapped in a Dollhouse
Until the early 20th century women were not treated equally by their male counterparts. The role of a woman was to cook, clean, and take care of the children at home. Women in the upper class were treated as a prize, or even an accessory. These women were to be seen and not heard giving them almost no real value than their aesthetic presence. In Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House this is a societal norm that is clearly shown to the reader. Ibsen portrays his lead character, Nora, as a woman who has been treated as nothing more than a “Doll” her entire life, and yearns for the ability to be more than just an accessory in a middle class life. Ibsen shows how Torvald has authority in the house. The reader follows Nora and Torvald’s relationship as it unfolds and eventually deteriorates leaving the reader in a state of confusion about moral and maternal obligations. Ibsen uses numerous symbols and motif to develop the mood of the play and explain the dollhouse itself. Ibsen commits no symbol to a place of greater importance than another; rather he uses each symbol as the Christmas tree, light and dark, power between genders, and the letters to show the progression of Nora. The Christmas tree is the primary symbol that Ibsen presents; it resembles Nora because she is just “something nice to look at” according to Torvald. Claire Russel states “The tree is a symbol of kinship which represents family and the life of man continuing through generations” (Russel 256). The tree is a sign of vitality as well as fertility of women. Ibsen uses it to also represent the breakdown of Nora’s family due to their distorted relationship. Nora tells Torvald he cannot see her until she is ready, just as she tells the maid that the kids cannot see the tree until it is finished. This is ironic because during this time period “trees and marriages were connected and they were meant to test the luck of a marriage” (Russel 258). The audience can see that the marriage of Nora and Torvald is nowhere near “luck” because neither party has feelings for one another. As Nora begins to fall apart and become disheveled, so does the tree. The tree then begins to represents death and decay and serves as a stopwatch counting down to the beginning of Nora’s breakdown. Nora begins to distance herself from her life, and this symbolizes the theme of the unreliability of appearances. It is also a representation of the marriage of Torvald and Nora because although Nora puts on a show of being “happy”, the audience can tell that she is miserable. Nora wants a new beginning even if it involves leaving her husband and children out of her life for good. Torvald sees his relationship with Nora from a different perspective. He feels that he has so much authority in his relationship, and that Nora will never leave him. He falsely associates this authority with their higher income, and “better quality of living,” a feeling Nora does not share. Although Nora forges a signature for a loan to save her husband’s life, by keeping this secret from him she begins to find out who she truly is. While the author uses the Christmas tree to symbolize the decay of Nora, he uses light and dark to symbolize the mood of the home. When Nora is being manipulated by Torvald the lights begin to darken in order to represent Nora’s emotions to the audience. Nora’s marriage is corrupted. She has no input in decisions and is called belittling names by Torvald. She is called nicknames such as “squirrel”, “little person”, and “little featherhead” allowing him to assert his authority and sees her as a child of his own. Nora finally brought back to reality when Dr. Rank finally confesses his love for Nora. During this scene the author also uses light to symbolize the understanding of his confession and the feeling that accompany it now that he admits his love for Nora. Ibsen displays more of the complexity of Nora’s