Character Development of Nora from A Doll's House
Ibsen's character development of Nora is represented by animal imagery. From the beginning of the play, we notice Ibsen's use of animals to describe Nora. In the opening lines, Torvald says, "Is that my little lark twittering out there?" (Wilke 1139). Webster's defines "lark" as a songbird and to play or frolic (Guralnik 340). The reader automatically gets an image of Nora as a carefree, happy person. In the following paragraphs, I will show how animal names are used to paint a portrait of the character of "Nora the Lark."
Ibsen has Torvald call his wife "his little lark" or "sulking squirrel" (Wilke 1139) among other animal names throughout the play. Most of the time, he uses bird imagery. The choice of animals that Ibsen uses relate to how Nora acts or how the audience or reader should portray her character.
Torvald's continual reference to Nora using bird names not only tells the reader his opinion of her, but also parallels Nora's image of herself. In the second act, Torvald calls Nora his "little featherbrain," and his "little scatterbrain" (1178). This presents an image of weak, unorganized birds and thereby defines Nora as weak, unorganized and stupid.
When Nora is asked, "Is that my little squirrel rummaging around?", Ibsen is presenting the image of a scrounge (1139). This could be a precursor to the fact that Nora is secretive and has something to hide. When Nora has to hide the macaroons and lie to Torvald about eating them, the reader must wonder what else she is not being honest about. Then, later in the play, it is revealed that Nora is hiding a deep secret about a debt.
Nora is a carefree woman that is always humming and flighty. She always appears happy and peaceful like a songbird or a lark. No wonder her husband always nick names her after birds. But, this is very deceptive. On the inside, Nora is being torn apart by feelings of guilt and betrayal. She has no idea about what to do or how she will solve her dilemma.
In Act II, Nora is begging Torvald to allow Krogstad to keep his job. She gets excited and worked up over her own fear of being caught in a lie. After calming her down, Torvald makes mention of her "frightened dove's eyes" (1163). Ibsen uses this reference to a dove because a dove is a symbol of peace. Nora wishes to keep her household at peace. She doesn't want Torvald to find out about the loan because she knows he would see it as a dishonor to his manhood.
Also in Act II, Nora refers to herself as a "wood nymph" which is a pretty hummingbird that is very graceful. This fits her well. She wants to be graceful, pretty, and dainty for Torvald so he can be happy with her. She is trying to avoid the inevitable situation, the horrible secret that will destroy her family. If she remains as a "wood nymph" in Torvalds's eyes, maybe he will overlook her secret.
Once the truth about the bank loan is revealed, Torvald scolds Nora. ...