Nora's Child-like Nature in A Doll's House

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From the title alone, Henrik Ibsen’s, A Doll’s House, carries an adolescent connotation, with dolls holding immediate association with young girls and youth. In this controversial playwright, Ibsen portrays his Danish protagonist as an ignorant juvenile. Set in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the 1880’s, Nora’s childlike character suggests what the lifestyle of many women during that time may have been. Ibsen reveals Nora’s innate, childlike nature incorporating strategic set placement and direction, significant symbols, an array of revealing dialogue, and elaborate description, healthy in detail. Ibsen creates a setting that traps Nora in domestic comfort. The play opens with a description of the setting, detailing it as “A room furnished comfortably” (Doll’s 1). The majority of the play takes place in this one room. With Nora confined to this room until the last few scenes of the play, the idea of restrictions emerges. Although Nora could just simply be in confinement because of her gender, she contains not much more power or significance than that of the children; this not only puts her on a subordinate level in relation to her relationship with Torvald, but equates her to that of a child. Ibsen reveals both Nora’s literal and symbolic restrictions not only through setting but through Torvald’s direction. While waiting on Dr. Rank, Torvald instructs Nora to send Dr. Rank to his office (1), never to enter Torvald’s office herself. Further direction, from Ibsen instead of Torvald, suggests that, like a child, Nora is willing to run from the problems she creates deciding “never to see them again…(She puts her shawl over her head)” (3), instead of acting maturely and facing her self-inflicted problems head on. The restrictions of Nora... ... middle of paper ... ...esents her child-like nature, wanting to destroy something just because the result is not what is expected or the end result is too difficult to get to. Audiences find Nora’s adolescent attributes too in Ibsen’s brilliantly incorporated symbols. Trapped in domestic comfort, Nora Helmer’s diminutive childlike pet-names, along with the act of dressing up and playing the part of Torvald’s wife confirm that Nora is merely a child playing house. Even admitting the house was like a playroom, Nora lives the past eight years of her life in this child-like delusion. Ibsen ingeniously incorporates revealing dialogue, carefully orchestrates an entrapped setting and direction, and cleverly conjugates both symbols and indirect description to present Nora’s immature, child-wife nature. Works Cited Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Trans. Michael Meyer. Mineola (NY): Dover, 1992
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