What does Nora symbolize in A Doll's House?

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renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nora is symbolic of many things that have to do with gender roles in history. She is symbolic of a doll. Torvald has a pretty plaything that will perform for him-sing songs, flit about, and provide him amusement whenever he cares to play. Yet, when he tires of spending time with her, he puts her away-metaphorically. Torvald retreats into his study, where it is expected that his doll will not intrude until he wishes to play again.

Nora also symbolizes a caged bird-the "singing lark" that is treated as a beautiful and fragile pet. The cage she is kept in is her home and role as wife and mother, and it is confined to very well defined gender expectations that do not allow her to roam free and explore boundaries.