Theme Of Entrapment In A Doll House

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In A Doll’s House Ibsen uses the doll metaphor to develop the theme of entrapment and by extension to illuminate the social backdrop of the time period that gives rise to the many issues and conflicts between the characters in the play. Nora serves as a wife and mother, but not as an equal to Torvald; rather a majority of the protagonist’s stage time is spent as a doll: a weak obedient character with little individuality, her existence a compound of societal norms and the expectations of others, especially her husband’s. Much of the doll allusions come from the dialogue of the play, which is strewn with a number of figurative terms, most notably, the pet names which Torvald has for Nora. Torvald is very possessive of his wife frequently adding …show more content…
Both characters are effectively playing a role rather than expressing their true thoughts and remain in this state until the third act. The latter is significant especially in Ibsen’s profound use of the doll metaphor. Nora tells Torvald that “I’ve been your doll-wife, just as I used to be papa’s doll-child ”, with no opinions of her own. Both men have only “played” with her. They, she says, have committed "a great wrong" against her in discouraging her from growing up. In addition, she notes how “our home has never been anything but a playroom” or how she “used to think it was fun when you [Torvald] came in and played with me [Nora]” , thereby accentuating the artificiality of the character’s lives: Here, the protagonist’s use of the doll imagery reinforces how over-controlling her husband has been and how she has essentially had no sense of individualism other than the role her husband wants her to play. Moreover, the use of the noun “doll” is particularly significant as though the title of the play is A Doll’s House, the actual word is not utilised in an important context until the final act. In some respects, this element represents how such a topical issue can go unaddressed within the …show more content…
Nora sits with Torvald at the table and explains her situation to him not letting him speak until she has finished what she wants to say. At the table, Torvald is still wearing the “evening dress” he wore to the fancy dress party and still wears it after Nora has taken off her dress. Like the Italian outfit, these clothes are artificial; they are costumes and at the table Torvald is put in a role where the costume is not appropriate and his "doll" life becomes apparent. The incongruity of his outfit with the setting reveals that Torvald is false. He then realises that Nora is not what he thought she was, that his world is a sham, and that he is nothing more than a doll in an imaginary world. Essentially, Torvald is another “doll” in the doll's house in that he is as restricted by his chosen role as Nora is by hers; when the he discovers Krogstad’s letter he goes into a speech of how “we must appear to be living together just as before” in the hopes of preventing a scandal. This line is significant as not only does it reinforces Nora’s “playroom” allusion later in the scene but it illustrates the importance of image within this society: the fact that he is willing to put on an act of this manner indicates his lack of courage to stand up against Krogstad as in essence this notion is ridiculous. This action ties with the doll metaphor in that the character is playing a role: as ridiculous as it

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