A Doll's House: Bondage and Freedom

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A Doll's House: Bondage and Freedom
Sharon Cook
ENGLISH/125
February 6, 2012
Dr. Natasha Whitton

A Doll's House: Bondage and Freedom
Mention the word “Barbie” ("En.wikipedia.org"), and most women who have played with one as a child, has fond memories of the plastic 11 ½ inches tall, Mattel statuette. In my childhood memory bank, Barbie is perfect, beautiful, and poised. She is the kind of woman I want to be. She lives in a three feet tall, ornately decorated pink doll house sitting next to the peppermint colored Priscilla curtains in my adolescent bedroom. I am completely in control of Barbie’s life. I control how she dresses, wears her hair, and thinks in her plastic world. My ruling adolescent hand is innocent and whimsical; the opposite of the control Torvald Helmer has over his wife Nora, as depicted in Henrik Ibsen’s drama, “A Doll’s House.” Ibsen, through his use of theme, exposition, symbolism, climax, and imagination presents the Helmer’s household as one of bondage and freedom. Through these elements of drama, Ibsen shows Torvald’s unyielding domination over Nora’s life and her obedience to it, until at last, she frees herself.

Theme
According to Barnet, S., Cain, W. E., & Burto, W. (2010, p. 436), “if we have read or seen a drama thoughtfully, we ought to be able to formulate its theme, its underlying idea.” Henrik Ibsen in his play “A Doll’s House,” defines the theme through the significance of the title selection. It alone, tells the audience what the drama is about. Ibsen’s title suggests the Helmer’s house as a plastic place of bondage for Nora. My mind referred to the title often while reading Ibsen’s play. As a result, I could understand the idea Ibsen was conveying.

Ibsen show’s Nora’s bondage and the continual theme of the play, through the words of his characters. Ibsen reflects this in Dr. Rank’s words to Nora. According to Barnet et al (2010, p. 803), Dr. Rank asks “What macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.” Dr. Rank’s question shows Torvald’s strict rules in his household. Nora is not allowed to enjoy food as delightful as macaroons. She sneaks them in the house, out of Torvald’s eyesight. Dr. Rank’s observation about the macaroons shows Torvald has complete control over Nora’s life, including her diet.

Exposition
Henrik Ibsen demonstrates Nora’s bondage through exposition. When Christine Linde asks Nora if she will ever tell her husband her secret, according to Barnet et al (2010, p. 801),

Nora says she may tell Torvald one day when “Torvald is no longer as devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled on him.” Nora indicates through this sentence Torvald’s control; his using her like a toy doll. This sentence also tells the audience what it needs to know about Nora’s persona and her future. Barnet et al (2010, p. 437), states exposition can “ give us an understanding of the characters who themselves are talking about other characters, it can evoke a mood, and it can generate tension.”

Symbolism
Ibsen shows Torvald’s control through symbolism. When Nora becomes uncomfortable about how Torvald is looking at her, according to Barnet et al (2010, p. 801), Torvald responds
“why shouldn’t I look at my dearest treasure – at all the beauty that is mine, all my very own?” Torvald is not paying Nora a complement in this scene. He is proclaiming she is his play thing; his toy to use at will. Ibsen through use of symbolism in this scene shows Torvald’s dominant nature toward Nora. He reminds the audience Nora is a prisoner in Torvald’s doll house.

Henrik Ibsen also demonstrates Nora’s freedom through symbolism. After dealing with Torvald’s anger from finding...
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