The Importance of the Dance in A Doll's House
Dancing is a beautiful form of expression that reveals a good deal about a person in a matter of minutes. Characters that dance in plays and novels usually flash some sort of underlying meaning pertaining to their story, shining light on themselves, other characters, and the movement of the action. In Ibsen's A Doll's House, Nora's performance of the tarantella summarizes the plot of the entire play.
Take, for example, Torvald's attitude towards Nora's offbeat movements. Torvald plays the piano for Nora initially, but becomes so frustrated with Nora's dancing that he abandons his tune and attempts to re-teach Nora the tarantella. This simple confrontation reflects the main action; Torvald is the one who provides Nora with music and who had previously taught Nora how to dance, just like he is the one who gives her a home and has sculpted her into his ideal wife. Nora cannot dance rhythmically to Torvald's song because both her lies and Torvald's strong belief in appearance have disrupted the harmony of their relationship. As soon as Rank begins to play the piano, Nora dances more wildly.
Nora's maddening movements stem from the fact that she is subconsciously contemplating suicide in order to save her husband's reputation, and her obsession with thoughts of death parallels her with the fatally ill Dr. Rank, creating a mystical, unearthly understanding between Nora and the doctor. Torvald is unable to re-mold Nora's dance skills, foreshadowing both Nora's unwillingness to listen...