A Doll’s House Metaphor Analysis

A Doll’s House is a play by Henrik Ibsen. It is a story about a husband and wife named Nora and Torvald Helmer, who seem like a happy couple enjoying a normal life while succumbing to the usual roles of a married couple in the 19th century.

The story started a quick turn after Nora tries to conceal her debt from her husband. Due to a series of interactions with other characters and after escaping a round of blackmails from a certain man named Krogstad, she manages to delay Torvald from knowing the truth about her situation.

Despite all her efforts, Torvald learns the truth and is outraged. He then vents out a series of angry outbursts which eventually left Nora hurt and shamed. The story ends with Nora bidding her husband and children farewell as she starts her journey towards independence.

A Doll’s House displays a tale of surrender and helplessness, to a position of power as Nora embarks on a mission of finding herself and defying the usual roles of women in the society. Overall, the play portrays plenty of metaphors, which present their own meanings and significance.

List of Metaphors Portrayed in the Story

The Tarantella dance

Taken after the Tarantula spider, the Tarantella dance is characterized by swift movements which causes the dancer to eventually experience exhaustion after exerting too much energy. The Tarantella dance is associated with Nora’s attitude to please her husband and submit to his whims and requests.

Skylark

This is a term of endearment used by Torvald when calling Nora. Here, Torvald likens her to a child whom he spoils and offers many beautiful things. In the first part of the play, Nora plays along and submits herself to all these nicknames.

Squirrel

While preparing their Christmas tree, Nora was seen eating plenty of macaroons off their table, to which can be interpreted that his husband sees her more of a child than a wife.

Songbird

Also another endearment, songbird is a metaphorical symbol for Torvald treating his wife like a vulnerable doll he can manipulate and instruct to follow all his orders.

Hunted dove

Torvald sees Nora as a hunted dove at the peak of his anger during the 3rd act. He implies Nora as a powerless wife who lives by the care of her husband.

Black hat

During the last act, Dr. Rank made an allegation of him wearing a black hat during the ball. This signifies an apparent knowledge about his own death.

Doll’s house

The doll house signifies a place of submissiveness wherein a dependent woman is treated like a doll or possession needing the care of her husband.

Strange man’s room

This is one of the last few works Nora mentioned to Torvald during their argument over his finding about her debt. Out of anger and disappointment, Nora mentioned she cannot live again in a “strange man’s room.” That is, she doesn’t seem to recognize her own husband anymore since his attitude has changed a lot.

A Doll’s House reflects a tale of powerlessness to strength and dependency to independence as Nora separates herself from her husband and sets off a journey to understand life in general and the role of women in the society.

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