Discuss Ibsen’s use of symbolism, such as in the setting, costuming, the tarantella dance, and the imagery of disease and death.

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Ibsen includes much symbolism in his play, A Doll’s House. The setting of the play, the Helmer’s residence, one portion of a multi-family dwelling, resembles an actual doll house. The setting of the Helmer residence also symbolizes the isolation experienced by Nora and women at that time in Norway. Since the action of the play never leaves the Helmer residence, the audience feels the isolation that Nora does. The costuming used in A Doll’s House, namely that worn by Nora, can be assigned multiple layers of symbolism; the multi-colored nature of Nora’s tarantella costume symbolizes the lively nature of the dance, her truly coming to life through this dance. The costume, in and of itself, stands as a symbol of Nora’s place in society. Torvald dresses Nora up as if she is a doll and requires of her this dance (the Tarantella), as if she is a marionette that he manipulates. Lastly, the ideas of disease and death relate to Nora and the Helmers’ marriage. Nora has brought disease into their marriage through her lies about money and the forgery. Through this disease she is bringing about the death of her marriage, as well as the death of a weak Nora, allowing for a strong Nora to emerge