Symbolism in 'A Doll House'

Decent Essays
Jasmine Shughoury
IB World Lit
1 May 2014
WL#1 Word Count: 1,456
The Use of Symbolism in A Doll House
Author Margaret Trudeau once said, “I can’t be a rose in any man’s lapel” (“I Can’t Be”). This quote expresses exactly what was going through many women’s minds during the 1800’s in Norway. Women had let their husbands control their lives for ages before the 1800’s. Soon, they could no longer stand being the rose in their husbands’ lapel. The women of Norway longed for freedom and began to rebel. Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll House, displays what women were going through during that time. The three act play is about Nora, a seemingly typical, submissive housewife, and Torvald, Nora’s condescending, banker husband. In his
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Nora realizes that she cannot stand living in Torvald’s doll house anymore being his perfect little doll, and she wants to become more than just a doll, so she leaves. Nora as Torvald’s doll clearly symbolizes how women were so submissive to their husbands during that time period in Norway. Another symbol Ibsen uses throughout the play is the macaroons as a symbol of women’s independence, to show how they longed for freedom from their husbands. The first time the macaroons are used as a symbol is in the beginning of the play when Torvald does not allow Nora to eat macaroons. It is shown how Nora tries to hide them from her husband when she first arrives at home. When Torvald asks when she arrived at home she says, “Just now. (Putting the macaroon bag in her pocket and wiping her mouth.) Do come in, Torvald, and see what I’ve bought” (Ibsen 44; Act 1). Torvald doesn’t allow Nora to eat macaroons, so Nora tries to hide them from him. In the beginning of the play, Nora is submissive to Torvald and tries to be what he sees as a perfect spouse, although she doesn’t get treated like a spouse should be treated. She is controlled by Torvald because in his eyes, a perfect spouse is a doll that he controls, which Nora tries to be, for example by hiding the macaroons so he doesn’t know that she disobeyed him. Nevertheless, Nora begins to eat the macaroons more overtly later on in the play. Nora’s first time
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