How do the macaroons and the dancing costume in A Doll's House help reveal character and contribute to the exploration of the theme?
The items may reveal something significant about more than one character as well as moving the reader closer to understanding the theme.
The macaroons are the first item that appears on stage and represent Nora's secretive, immature, and childish behavior. An adult woman, Nora would not have any issues eating what she wants, but seem like the macaroons serve as an agent of connection between her and her husband. Yet, we also notice that there is a certain deceit to it, as she hides them from her husband.When he reprimands her from eating the macaroons in hiding, we discover the roles each plays in their relationship, and the sham that they seem to have:
NORA: No; what makes you think that?
HELMER: Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?
NORA: No, I assure you, Torvald—
HELMER: Not been nibbling sweets?
NORA: No, certainly not.
HELMER: Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?
NORA: No, Torvald, I assure you really—
HELMER: There, there, of course I was only joking.
NORA: [going to the table on the right]. I should not think of going against your wishes.
The dancing costume is yet another dimension of Nora's childish, clueless, and silly preocupation with things so superficial and not significant enough to make a real difference in her life. It also is a symbol of the roles in the mariage as well, and paints Nora in the most co-dependent and weak tone yet.**At least, that is what she lets us know but- as readers- we know that Nora merely uses this as a technique to attract attention and seek acceptance.
Nora: You know I trust your taste more than anyone's. I'm so anxious to look really beautiful at the fancy dress ball. Torvald, couldn't you help me to decide what I shall go as, and what kind of costume I ought to wear?
Helmer: Aha! So little Miss Independent's in trouble and needs a man to rescue her, does she?
Nora: Yes, Torvald. I can't get anywhere without your help.
Helmer: Well, well, I'll give the matter thought. We'll find something.