Use of Imagery in A Doll's House
Imagery symbolically guides the process of self-emancipation for Nora, the protagonist of A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen. Objects like the macaroons, the lamp, the Christmas tree, and costumes represent the movement towards freedom of a woman who was a victim of society. Ibsen painted Nora as a youthful and lovely creature who was brought through life treated as a plaything by both her father and then her husband, Torvald. She must break society's unwritten laws. Although the consequences of her actions are initially minor, they start her along the path towards crisis when she realizes her position and the injustice of it. Through Ibsen's use of symbolism, objects in the play echo her process of anguish to liberation.
Nora spent most of her life as a toy. Her father would be displeased if she had separate opinions from him. The masquerade and costumes are her own masquerade; their marriage is a decorated Christmas tree. She also pretends to be the doll, letting Torvald dress her up and tell her to dance. Her husband's use of words, names like 'little Miss Obstinate" and "skylark" both showed his affection for her and that his affection was terminal if she were to step outside her porcelain boundaries. As Nora's initial submission, is overturned to tenacity and rebellion, the games she played with her children disappear. Confused, she thinks she will poison them by owing money, but eventually she realizes that it is not debt, but her treatment of her children that will turn them into dolls like her. The Christmas tree has become ragged and stripped of ornamentation, like Nora and Torvald's marriage. When she changes out of her tarantella costume towards the end of the play, she also removes the disguise and turns into a "real" person.
Previous to her transformation, Nora must find other ways of having her own personality. The macaroons, like her flirtation...