As a director of a performance of A Doll House list your key set design/ costume ideas for Nora, and detail what they represent.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keeping in mind the great significance of the title of Ibsen's play which has been written as both A Doll's House and A Doll House, the position of Nora is one that is, indeed, minimal and objectified as the "doll" which Torvald Helmer possesses. And, since the play was written during the Victorian Age, the set would include rooms decorated in the Victorian style; that is, doors that slide open, hardwood floors with decorative wool rugs covering much of the floor, wood-burning stoves in each room, armchairs and sofa in the living room, covered with tufted upholstery in a solid, dark color such as burgundy. The rooms reflect the traditionalism of Helmer, who wishes to appear dignified. There should be a certain darkness to the room, relieved only by gaslights, with a stuffiness to the air. Many of the scenes would be outside the doors or in doorways, signifying how Nora is closed out from the inner life she wishes to share with her husband as, for instance, in the opening scene, in which Helmer is in his study with its leather bound books and calls through the door to Nora in his patronizing manner,

HELMER Is that my little lark twittering out there?
NORA (opening some packages). That's right.  [Notice that she does not attempt to open his door.]

In fact, when she asks him to come out because she wishes to show him something, Helmer refuses, saying he is busy. Finally, he looks out, but yet has a pen in his hand, then calls Nora his "little wastrel" as he looks at what she has purchased.

As a married woman in this Victorian Age, Nora would be attired appropriately for the wife of a banker:  dark stockings worn during the day, a corset, a wire crinoline, which kept the shape of the dress, and a dress with a high neckline for daytime wear. When Nora first enters in Scene 1, she removes her coat and takes from the pocket a couple of macaroons and eats them surreptitiously as she has been forbidden them. This action mimics that of a child, who steals some cookies or delicacy from the kitchen.

As the play continues, Nora continues to be objectified, so the Victorian costuming should remain on her and be in grey tones to symbolize her receding position except for the fact that she is dressed vibrantly in her costume when she dances and performs as Helmer's "living doll."

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A Doll's House

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