The Use of Symbolism in a Doll's House

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The Use of Symbolism in A Doll’s House
By Kaemon Hernandez

Symbols are used universally to arouse interest and stimulate the mind. A Doll’s House is filled with symbols which represent abstract ideas and concepts. These symbols successfully illustrate the conflicts that are going on between each of the characters. A few of the symbols are the Christmas tree, the Tarantella and even Nora herself. The Christmas tree is parallel with Nora’s life and emotions during the play. The same as “The children mustn't get a glimpse of it (the tree) till this evening, after it's trimmed.”, “Nora is not allowed to be seen out of the house unless she is looking beautiful and acting like a proper wife and mother.” The Christmas tree and Nora are something nice to look at therefore neither should be revealed until they look completely perfect. Both are used to dress up or decorate and for people to admire. Throughout the play it becomes obvious that the tree and Nora are one in the same. As the tree becomes disheveled and messy so does Nora.

The Tarantella is a wild dance which symbolizes Nora’s inner struggle. Before the dance Nora says "Torvald wants me to be a Neapolitan peasant girl and dance the Tarantella that I learned in Capri.” which shows the control Torvald has over her. The wild dancing that Nora does can be seen as her breakthrough to finally finding her own freedom and making her own decisions. This foreshadows what happens in the end when Nora comes to the realization that all this time she has only been Torvald’s doll and doing what was pleasing for him, not for her, which leads to her leaving him.

Nora herself is the most important symbol throughout the whole play. Torvald has complete control over all of Nora’s therefore she is treated more like a child rather than a wife. Throughout the play Torvald refers to her by childish nicknames such as “squirrel” and “little song-bird”. Torvald has also commanded Nora not to eat macaroons because they will rot...
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