Nora's Symbolism in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House Essay

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Nora's Symbolism in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House

In every society power is the bringer of fortune and influence. In his play A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen portrays, through the character of Nora, the power women are gaining in patriarchal societies. Nora, who symbolizes all women, exercises her power throughout the entire play. She cleverly manipulates the men around her while, to them, she seems to be staying in her subordinate role. In all three acts of the play Nora controls many situations and yields the most power.

Act I, along with the introduction of Ibsen's tone and style, brought the introduction of power. It seems that since the Helmer household is symbolizing patriarchal European society that male
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Krogstad feels threatened by her influence because she can be the pivotal deciding factor in whether or not he keeps his job. Nevertheless, Krogstad tries to turn her influence to benefit himself by threatening to reveal her crime if she does not help him to keep his job. This backfires on Krogstad when two women, Nora and Mrs. Linde, manipulate Krogstad into feeling obstinate and therefore he promises never to tell anyone of what Nora has done. Nora's power helped her to remain protected throughout the entire play.

Torvald, Nora's husband, feels powerful by referring to Nora as different types of feeble animals. Nora realizes this and uses it to her advantage. During act II she wants a favor from Torvald so she manipulates him by calling herself the animal names that make Torvald feel dominant. She says,

"Nora: If your little squirrel were to ask for something very, very prettily--?

Torvald: What then?

Nora: Would you do it?

Torvald: I should like to here what it is first.

Nora: Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you would be nice, and do what she wants.

Torvald: Speak plainly.

Nora: Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song rising and falling-" (33)

By saying all these things Nora is seemingly proving to Torvald that he has power over her. Luckily, Torvald is not incredulous and feels that Nora is being
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