The Role of Symbolism in a Doll's House

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Essay question:
8- Ibsen was able to write this play externalizing inner problems with effective use of symbolism. Point out these examples and explain their overall impact within the characters and the overall effect on the storyline.

The use of symbolism in Henrik Ibsen play, A Doll’s House.

Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in 1879. During this time period, the XIX century, a new literary style is developed, the symbolism. The symbolism consists of looking at insignificant things with a new eye, see inexplicit ideas that the author wants the reader to discover alone. Through out the play, Ibsen uses every day object, and their relation with the character, to externalize the characters inner problem. Using symbolism, he creates a story in parallel, where unspoken matters are brought to the surface.

A Doll’s House is set during Christmas period; a period of festivity and changes. The first symbol that Ibsen uses is a decorative object very closely related to this period: a Christmas tree. This Christmas tree symbolises Nora’s position in her households as a plaything who adds charm to the home and who is pleasing to look at. There are several parallel drawn between Nora and the Christmas tree in the play. Just as Nora instructs the maid that the children cannot see the tree until it has been decorated

NORA. Hide the Christmas tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it till this evening, when it is dressed. (Ibsen 12).

just as she tells Torvald that no one can see her in her dress until the evening of the dance:

NORA. Yes nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my dress until to-morrow. (Ibsen 51).

It also indicates the state of Nora’s psychological conditions after it has begun to decline; the stage direction at the beginning of the second act indicates that the Christmas tree is correspondingly “dishevelled”:

STAGE DIRECTION. The Christmas tree...
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