Henrik Ibsen’s Symbolism in A Doll House

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A Doll House was written in 1879 by playwright Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen is known as the creator of modern realistic style drama. The play tells the story of a nineteenth century woman who breaks the chains of society that decide her role in life so that she can find herself. The woman, Nora, lives a relaxed and seemingly untroubled life until her husband Torvald Helmer becomes sick. She then must forge her father’s name on a contract that would allow her to borrow enough money from a lawyer named Nils Krogstad to travel to Italy to save his life. When Torvald finds out what Nora did he becomes furious instead of appreciative for his wife. Nora begins to realize her husband does not truly love her, he just sees her as a trophy of some sort that will help his social status. At the end of the play, Nora decides to leave Torvald in order to find true happiness. Throughout Ibsen’s exploration of women’s role in society in A Doll House, his use of symbolism can be found in objects and characters. The characters have the greatest symbolism in the play. Nora Helmer herself is the most significant symbol. She embodies the way the majority of women are treated, as a possession of their father and then their husbands. Nora also represents irresponsibility, which is seen in the way she raises her children. Torvald Helmer symbolizes a materialist old-fashioned man, one who seeks a trophy wife instead of a companion. Christine Linde and Dr. Rank both portray false friendship in the play.
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