Essay on Animal Imagery in A Doll's House

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Animal Imagery in A Doll's House

Animal imagery in Henrick Ibsen's play, A Doll's House is a critical part of the character development of Nora, the protagonist.

Ibsen uses creative, but effective, animal imagery to develop Nora's character throughout the play. He has Torvald call his wife "his little lark"(Isben) or "sulky squirrel"(Isben) or other animal names throughout the play. He uses a lot of 'bird' imagery-calling her many different bird names. The name Torvald uses directly relates to how he feels about her at the time. The animals Ibsen chooses to use are related to how Nora is acting, or how she needs to be portrayed. For instance: Not even a dozen lines into Act I, Torvald asks (referring to Nora), "Is that
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Throughout the play Torvald refers to Nora as his lark, or songbird; two birds that are stereotypically peaceful, carefree, happy birds. At least on the outside. On the inside the birds may have many struggles, but they don't show it, much like Nora avoids doing it. Torvald does not know the difference. He thinks Nora is always happy, never sad, and energetic-characteristics of the song bird (at least on the out side).

Later, in Act II, Nora tells Torvald that she would "be a wood nymph and dance for you in the moonlight"(Isben). A wood nymph is a beautiful hummingbird that is graceful in flight, much like Nora wants to be for Torvald when she dances. She wants Torvald to be happy with her, because she knows he is going to find out about the note.

In Act II, Nora is begging Torvald to let Krogstad keep his job at the bank-which Torvald is the manger for-so Krogstad won't ask for the money back the she owes him. Nora gets quite worked up about all of this. Torvald finally calms her down, and notices her "frightened dove's eyes"(Isben). A dove has always been a symbol of peace-keeping, and Ibsen uses it effectively to show her efforts to maintain peace and order. Torvald notices that she is just trying keep things right, and refers to her as a dove.

The animal imagery is consistent throughout the play, usually with references to happy, cheerful animals. In Act III

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