Significance of Objects in the Doll’s House Essay
Significance of Objects in the Doll’s House
Macaroons: nora ! Nora! Please don’t leave me and go… why did she leave me half eaten? what is going to happen of me now!! Torvald detests me, he was always against Nora eating me………why did it have to be me? Dress: everybody adored and praised Nora when she wore me… but alas! What was the use of all my beauty and finery when in the end she left me all alone. Why was I given so much importance if she was to choose her ordinary clothes over me at the end? Letter: exactly! Were we just ornaments to adorn the surroundings?
Christmas tree: hmm… now even im wondering if my purpose in the house was of mere decoration. Even in this festive season will I be left alone in this bedraggled state to wither away in few days? Lamp: yes! Yes! Were we just used to enhance the beauty of this household? I thought I heard some voices but I didn’t know it would be all of you. If you all are thinking that you’ll have no role in the play let me tell you my views on why you objects of the doll’s house were of prime importance in giving a deeper meaning behind the actions of the characters.
I am going to do this presentation based on the Henrik Ibsen’s The Doll’s House. As per the lines of the story, the playwright has emphasized greatly on the many objects that surround the characters in the play. I am going to elaborate on the symbolism of the significance of the objects mentioned in the play. The objects denote various emotions but mostly, Ibsen uses objects to indicate Nora’s depression caused by her unmerited marriage; ironically, the objectification of Nora by her husband and her victimization in society. he writer allows the readers the freedom to interpret the household objects subjectively which challenges the reader to question the extent to which the household objects relate to the theme of marriage. Initially, Ibsen places immense significance on different objects in the household, and stresses the directions for the setting of the stage. Ibsen makes his stage sets come alive and take part in the action.
Just as Nora evolves from the mini-Nora of act one to the super-Nora of act three, similarly the set of the play goes through a drastic evolution, from light to darkness, from paradise to prison until, by the end of the play, it has been ethically demolished. One could imagine the doll house set, when Nora slams the door, collapsing like a house of cards, to the collective gasp of relief from the audience. Looking at the set we see, that Ibsen makes use of a triad, “a room . two doors in the rear wall, the door on the left leads to Torvald’s study, and is opened and closed only when he chooses.
It represents the sanctum sanctorum of male dominance and decision-making authority and security and his invisible presence behind that door is felt god like. Whenever he emerges from this door, it is always on his own terms, to direct and control events. The door to the right in the rear wall leads to the outside world. Only damaged people come through this door: Christine, Rank, Krogstad, all of whom have been variously hurt by the world outside. So this door represents the menacing reality of the outside world, its power to hurt but also, its power to force- to force one to grow up, to stop being a doll.
There is another door, which leads to the nursery and bedroom. This is the world of sexual fantasy, of Nora performing childish roles of squirrel, lark and others to keep Torvald infatuated with her innocence. Here, one can clearly see that Ibsen draws a visible line between the kinds of objects he chooses. As the tones of the play become more serious, the settings become bolder and so do the shades of Nora’s personality. On the surface level, the play does not show these nuances but it is only when the reader delves deeper does he understand the immense symbolism of it all.
Nora however is hardly innocent. This can be seen when Nora lies about the packet of macaroons twice, once to Helmer and the second time to Dr Rank. The macaroons denote Nora’s dishonesty and deception, which also alludes to her act of committing objectionable, underhanded deeds. Nora resorts to lying about eating the macaroons because she feels she is at fault for disobeying her husband. This small incident also shows the strains in their marital relationship. Also the macaroons show us the first glimpse of Nora’s desire for independence.
To an extent the Christmas tree with which the play begins is a representation of Nora’s character. Just like the tree is an object of decoration possessed by somebody in order to beautify a place similarly Nora was the prized possession of Helmer. She was no less than a mere object, a show piece meant to be admired and praised. It is interesting to note that Nora orders the nurse, “Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it till this evening, when it is dressed”, she similarly tells Torvald, “Yes, nobody is to have a chance to of admiring me n my dress until tomorrow”.
These lines show the similarity between Nora and the Christmas tree. Both are not revealed until each look perfect. In addition, as the play proceeds it becomes obvious that the tree and Nora are one in the same. When the second act opens the Christmas tree is described to be, “stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its disheveled branches”. This corresponds to Nora’s condition at that point in the play. Like the tree Nora too was in a disheveled state of mind.
She was anxious and confused. “Corrupt me children…poison my home? It’s not true! It could never be true! And “somebody’s coming! No, it’s nobody. ” Support my claim that Nora’s psychological state was in comparison to the Christmas tree similar. Also the tousled state of the tree could be symbolic of the disintegration of Nora’s web of lies. The pretty, innocent, childlike ways, in which Nora used to mask her fraudulence, her deceit would soon be uncovered in front of Helmer and the ugly truth would emerge. he fancy dress that Nora would wear for the fancy dress completion in many ways symbolizes the character she plays in her marriage to Helmer. The torn and messed up condition of her fancy dress is parallel to her disgruntled condition. Also her marriage is on the rocks and her thoughts are all aligned on how she could prevent Helmer from knowing the truth because she knows very well that Helmer will never accept what she had done. Thus the torn condition of the dress could be symbolic of the flawed condition of their marriage.
Also it is interesting to note that Nora says that Torvald dislikes seeing dressmaking, suggesting that Torvald enjoys the false character that Nora has adopted. “oh only if I could rip them up into a thousand pieces. ” exclaims Nora, on seeing the condition of the dress. This is another sign showing Nora’s desire for independence-Independence from the clutches of her husband and from the norms and conditions of the society. Also the dress highlights another point.
Mrs linde who unlike Nora who thinks just like the dress her marriage is beyond repair,is more mature suggests the repairing of the dress which is symbolic of the fact that later in the play it is Mrs Linde who decides that Torvald should learn of Nora’s secrets and that it would be beneficial for their marriage. Also at the end of act 3 when Nora removes her fancy dress and changes into her casuals and she says “yes torvald ive changed” this change she meant was not of merely her clothes but also a change in her personality.
The removal of her dress mplies the unmasking of her pretense and coming face to face with her husband as a human being for the first time. Changing of the dress is also significant of Nora’s desire for freedom from the web of lies that she had been spinning and from the captivity of her husband. It is another sign showing her desire for freedom from the doll’s house and to live her life on her own terms. The letter from Krogstad in the letter box forms the crux of the play. Nora’s emotional developments and transformations, her anxiety, her marriage all revolves around the letter box and the letter.
The letter from krogstad is symbolic of Nora’s concealment and deception. It brings to light her secrecy and lies that she hides from her husband and also uncovers her disguise of the childish ideal wife. Thus leading her to finally slam the door and becoming a rebel of sorts. Also the letter symbolizes revelation in a way that only after reading the letter it is that Torvald realizes and understands the desires of his wife. It is only after reading the letter that he comes out of his imaginative ideal world and faces the harsh reality of the situation.
Thus the letter was an eye opener for Torvald, it showed him where his marriage stands. “helene, bring the lamp in please” said Nora when Dr rank confessed his love for her. Thus when the lamp is brought the room gets lit up. This light is symbolic of Nora’s state of awareness. Earlier Nora tries to lure and manupilate Dr Rank but when he confesses his love for her she goes into a state of shock and that’s when the rays of light seep into the room displaying Nora’s state of awareness. Also the lamp could signify spiritual redemption. This is because darkness is associated with evil and immoral activities.
And Dr rank confessed his love for his best friend’s wife which is an immoral act. thus the streak of light which the lamp bought in, also bought with it a sense of righteousness. That is when Nora exclaims “Dr. Rank! Don’t you feel ashamed of yourself, now the lamp’s been bought in? ” Therefore, using multiple objects of the play, the playwright makes it clear that he doesn’t want the things used in his play to merely be objects but he symbolically makes these inanimate things spring to life as he denotes so much importance to them.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 February 2017
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