Doll House By Ibsen

Today a reader might find it hard to imagine how daring Nora Helmer was a
hundred years ago. The theme of womenís liberation makes this story seem
almost contemporary. This was considered a controversial play featuring a woman
seeking individuality. "A Dollís House" was the play that made Ibsen world
famous. It was written well ahead of its time. In Ibsenís time it was
considered an outrage for a woman such as Nora to display a mind of her own. It
was unthinkable that a woman would leave her husband to obtain freedom. This
play presents problems and that still appear in todayís society. This play,
one of Ibsenís most popular works, was a simple classic story of womenís
liberation. Animal imagery in the play is a critical part of the character
development of Nora. It is used to develop Noraís character. Throughout the
play Torvald calls his wife, "his little lark", "sulky squirrel", or
other animal names. A lark is a happy, carefree, songbird. It can also be used
as a verb meaning to engage in spirited, fun, or merry pranks. Torvald thinks

Nora is always happy, never sad, and energetic (all the characteristics of a
songbird.) A squirrel is quite the opposite. It is a small fury rodent. Nora"squirreled" away her bag of macaroons, and also scrounges money to pay off
her debt. Torvald would ask if, "that is my squirrel rummaging around?" This
shows that Nora was burying something, maybe the macaroons or the money she
secretly borrowed. Torvald uses names that show how he feels about Nora at the
time. The animals chosen Stevens 2 are related to how Nora is acting. In act
two, Nora tells Torvald she will be a wood nymph and dance for him. A wood nymph
is a hummingbird that is graceful in flight, just like Nora wants to be for

Torvald when she dances. When Nora begs Torvald to let Krogstad to keep his job
at the bank she gets very worked up. Torvald notices her "frightened dove
eyes" and tries to comfort her. A dove is well known as a symbol of peace.

Nora only wants Krogstad to keep his job to maintain peace and order in her
life. Most of the animal imagery used refers to happy peaceful animals. This is
because Torvald sees Nora as a happy, carefree housewife. He does not know about
the secret worries she has. The imagery also shows what kind of person Torvald
is and the kind of person he would like Nora to be (Magill). Through most of the
play Nora has a typical relationship with society. Most women in her time were
denied a part in public life, their education was limited, they were not legally
able to transact business, and they could not own property. Women were
considered property of their husband or fathers. Noraís demeaning treatment
was a common occurrence in life. Nora was a typical housewife who worshipped her
husband. Her main purpose was to be happy for his sake. Nora had general duties,
mostly restricted to caring for the children. She fails to see that the law does
not take into account the motivation behind her forgery. Noraís first
confrontation with a "lawful society" was her meeting with Krogstad. Nora
does not realize her naivety and inexperience with the real world until she
encounters rules with the world outside of her "doll house." She does not
realize that rules outside of the house apply to her. Nora has been so sheltered
from society that she cannot comprehend the severity of her decision to Stevens

3 borrow money illegally. In her opinion it was no crime to do everything
possible to save her husbandís life. She also believes that her actions will
be overlooked because of her desperate situation. Noraís state of shocked
awareness at the end of the play shows how society awakens to the changing view
of the role of women(Magill). Torvald also has a very typical relationship with
society. He is a smug bank manager, a perfect symbol of their society. With his
job comes many responsibilities. He often treats his wife as if she is one of
these responsibilities. Torvald is very authoritative and male dominated. He
puts his appearance (both social and physical) ahead of his wife that he
supposedly loves. He is not a strong supporter of his family; instead he is a
mean and cowardly man. This is a man that is worried about his reputation, and
cares little about his wifeís feelings. He waits until after he