What does it say about Nora that she constantly craves macaroons, which are a recurring symbol of temptation in the play?

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Torvald monitors even what Nora eats shows the degree of his obsessive control. That she feels it necessary to pretend to follow his orders rather than standing up for herself shows how thoroughly he has intimidated her. For her to continue to eat what she wants, however, shows that she may be intimidated, but he hasn't broken her spirit entirely or destroyed her identity entirely. Nora still owns enough of herself to eventually find her way back to independence and self-respect.

booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Nora, sneaking macaroons without Torvald knowing may represent deception on her part and temptation by offering them to others, almost like Eve offering Adam a bite of her apple.

I also tend to see this as a childish ploy to see what she can get away with right under Torvald's nose. This may be an example of deceit, but in some ways I think it is an immature game she plays in that Torvald treats her like a parent, rather than a husband.

jessdz | Student

I agree with Aiden and everyone else for the most part, though I thought the macaroons symbolized Nora's freedom if we look at this from Jung's thoery of Psychic Individuation or "self realization" all Nora really wanted was to have the freedom that men had in that time period. Her defiance against Torvald strict orders not to eat macaroons because they would "rot her teeth" shows how her shadow presents itself or her desire to pocess the same freedom that men share.

aj-dunnigan | Student

This is going to be the same as everyone else's comments cause everyone's comment are already pretty similar. Yeah!

Nora used the macaroons to rebel against the strain pressed upon her by Torvald to keep her figure. It gives her control of this portion of her reality. Torvald is that kind of guy who wants his women in shape and good lookin'; he doesn't want a homely, plain jane, overweight wife. This could be an insight into Torvald's shadow, showing his fears of her gaining weight and becoming that plain housewife rather than his prize. His persona shows him as a loving, caring husband that provides and works hard for his family, but this shows his shadow peeking through.

nvaniwaarden | Student

It is hard to deny that the macaroons symbolize Nora's deception towards her husband, as they represent the first of her many lies throughout the play; however, the macaroons also signify Torvald's adult-like lust for the 'picture perfect' woman. Torvald, like every other man, wants the textbook trophy wife whom he can put on display. Thus, it is possible that Ibsen meant for these seemingly unimportant chocolates to epitomize the tribulations of such fake relationships.  

atramutolo | Student

Nora's macaroons are a symbol for her deception. They are her first act of stealthiness and dishonesty towards her husband. Also, they can represent Nora herself because of the physical makeup of the candy. While they are chocolaty and sweet on the outside, they are completely different on the inside, often filled with coconut, which is unexpected by many.

hayley-deforest | Student

The macaroons were Nora's way of trying to feel in control of her life. Torvald puppeted everything she did, so she hide the macaroons as a way of rebellion. They made her feel like she could still make decisions for herself. She obviously hated the way Torvald treated her and needed a way to vent those feelings. Also, they were foreshadowing to her leaving. Maybe it was a hint to Torvald that she was close to the breaking point.

jsgrjl | Student

Macaroons are an important symbol in A Doll's House becasue of the control and barrier factors that are implemented on women during the late seventeenth century. Macaroons symbolize Nora's marginalization in society. Other symbols like the letter box and the her custumes were put in place to illustrate Nora's lack of power within Torvold's household.

nayely1507 | Student
Nora and the macaroons

As a reoccurring symbol in the play, the forbidden macaroons represent temptation and deception. What does this say about Nora, who has an apparent craving for the treats, and about the people she offers them to?

Torvald has this beautiful wife, who is picture perfect. Obviously, her eating habits have changed due to the image she has to keep up. Nora is basically cravin power, in order to find herself.

samuelperkins | Student

The macaroons were Ibsen's way to bridge the gap between Nora's doll life and human life. It was the "light" at the end of the tunnel in wich Nora temporarily disabled the perception Torvald had on her and and temporarily ignited an insight on her true being. I agree with the second entry, for the macaroons only came out when the doors were closed and the husband was out. Nora eats the chocolates in front of Kristine even, showing Nora is more comfortable around her friends than she is her husband.

erikdeleon | Student

The macaroons show how clever and deceitful Nora really is. It demonstrates that even when she wasn't allowed to eat macaroons, because Torvald told her not to, she does it anyways and gets away with it. Her cleverness and sly ways in this situation also parallel the IOU situation later in the play.

carric | Student

According to Jungian theory, the macaroons symbolize Nora’s shadow, her selfish and deceitful self.  She does not share them with anyone, buys them with money she acquired through trickery, and lies about them to Torvald. All of these traits, selfishness, trickery and deceit, counter exactly what Nora is supposed to be like, and yet she craves them because she unconsciously craves the desires of her shadow.

bananamenagerie | Student

As Nora eats the macaroons, it symbolizes her inner desire to be seperate from him. Although Nora has kept several secrets from Torvold, her secret macaroons are a secret all her own. It is a small piece of her independance from him. It could also act as forshadowing that she will initially leave him.

haleymiller | Student
Nora and the macaroons

As a reoccurring symbol in the play, the forbidden macaroons represent temptation and deception. What does this say about Nora, who has an apparent craving for the treats, and about the people she offers them to?

Nora's need for the sweet macaroons shows not only her desperate need to rebel, but also a longing for excitement in her life. Being the "perfect housewife" can get old, especially when nothing that Nora does really benefits anyone but herself. This fact makes her duties seem irrelevant and unnecessary. Nora also enjoys driving Torvald insane and disobeying him. Him worrying about her means that he is paying attention to her, something that she likes whether the attention is positive or negative. Lastly, Nora has always been held on a short leash. The macaroons represent an aspect of her life that only she can have control over.

graceauther9 | Student

The macaroons serve as a tool to show how controlling Torvald is. Not only does Torvald emotionally control Nora, but he physically tells her that she cannot eat chocolate. Ibsen uses the chocolates to make it as clear as possible that Nora has a tough shell she needs to break out of by the end of the play.

ree0028 | Student

The macaroons play a significant role in the play because the macaroons symbolize Nora's treachery to her husband, Torvald.

myrapixler | Student

The macaroons are an allusion to the forbidden fruit in the Bible. Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat fruit from one particular tree in the Garden of Eden, but they did anyway. The macaroons are like the forbidden fruit because Nora is not supposed to eat them. Her husband tells her not to eat them because he cares about her health and beauty. However, Nora uses the macaroons as a way to go behind Torvald's back and rebel. She is so desperate for independence that eating macaroons secretly from her pocket is satisfying to her. This foreshadows her potentially rash decision at the end of the play that allowed her some independence.

apbarkan | Student

Torvald's incessant nicknaming throughout the first portion of the play establishes his own self-entitled superiority in comparison to Nora. As the husband and man of the house, Torvald is driven by his ego to control Nora and enforce rules, including the maintenance of his wife's diet. In fact, the manner in which Torvald addresses Nora during the macaroon discussion is reminiscent of a parent interrogating a young child. The generated image of a guilty child conveys Torvald's subordination of Nora.

sixdabomb | Student

It is interesting that you bring up the idea of "temptation" -the macaroons could be seen as an allusion to Adam & Eve and the forbidden fruit. Nora is Eve. The macaroons are the forbidden fruit which give knowledge - and the knowledge in this case is freedom and independence from Torvald. In the story, Eve gives the fruit to Adam, and he is corrupted as well. All the others to whom Nora offers the macaroons are Adam: Rank and Kristine.

If Nora then, is Eve, and Rank & Kristine are Adam, then who is the devil and who is God?

byu2010 | Student

The macaroons are a manifestation of the trouble brewing beneath the surface of Nora and Torvalds marriage. If Nora is lying to Torvald about as small a thing as the macaroons, Torvald should be very concerned. Nora is lying about things that really don't matter. This should tip Torvald of that she may be lying about bigger things. The macaroons are just the tip of the iceberg.

nwest2010 | Student

I would have to agree with the username "tdigilio." I believe that the macaroons not only are a way for Nora to rebel, but they also scare Torvald.  Nora's beauty is one of the only ways Torvald can find happiness in life, and all of this could be taken away from him if she were to eat too many sweets. We all know what would happen to Nora if she ate too many chocolates!

tdigilio | Student

I agree with most of you on the purpose of the macaroons in the story. They frighten Torvald because they have the power to destroy Nora's beauty, and without her beauty, she then loses the only thing she has over the other women around her. Beauty keeps Nora wealthy, married, and happy, and without this undeniable beauty she will fall apart. Deep down, torvald knows this, and it motivates him to shun her away from eating macaroons

molly311 | Student

I agree that the macaroons represent Nora's desire to leave Torvald. She is always finding ways to rebel against his word, and this is a satisfying one. He does not want his precious trophy wife to loose her wonderful figure or rot her beautiful smile.

Also, the portray a sense of innocence and childness in Nora. Even though she broke the law and tries to deal with many adult problems, we cannot help associating her with a child. Her sweet tooth portrays a childish habit.

austinjohns | Student

The idea of macaroons illustrates the prominance of men in this play. The man's rules that she is going against demonstrates her rebellious attitude that occurs throughout the play. By offering macaroons to other men she is showing that she isn't scared to go against her husband although face-to-face she doesnt have the courage to act like that

jakemitchell | Student

I also agree with everyone, eating the Macaroons for Nora is her childish way of craving independence.  This first act of rebellion seems to be nothing too important at first, but in actuality this small act leads to the others and eventually to her having the courage and strength to rebel and leave Torvald for the rest  of her life.  The Macaroons helped Nora remain calm and pretty when since the very beginning of the story it is obvious Nora did not feel completely comfortable there.

lleander | Student

The exchange between Nora and Torvald as he confronts her about the macaroons also adds to the "parent and child" aspect of their relationship. Torvald says, "(wagging his finger at her) Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?" The way he speaks to his wife lacks the respect and maturity a conversation between two responsible parents would have. Although purchasing candies behind her husband's back is somewhat of a trivial issue, it is the start of tension in their marriage.

frannycap | Student

To me, it reminded me of parents that take their kid's Halloween candy and regulate how much and when they can have some. Torvald's ban on the macaroons are another method of control. Perhaps he didn't mean it to be that way, but in his eyes, Nora is his silly, little "sky-lark" and he fully believes he knows what is best for her.

nikota | Student

The macaroons could also suggest an alternate way, less harmful way to rebel. Almost healthier. Instead of outright confronting Torvald, Nora could indulge herself and fulfill her rebelious needs while minimizing the overall effect. Meaning that their is a safer way to vent frustration in little bits than all at once.

thskelly429 | Student

Throughout the play, Nora is constantly having to worry about her physical appearance, whether or not she is pleasing her husband, and how she presents herself to others. I think the macaroons are her little way of rebelling against her repression in her own home, showing that she strongly desires independence, but is too scared to voice her own opinion.

dannyclarke1 | Student

From the opening scene of A Doll's House, the reader can identify Nora's desire for independence through the macaroons.  Torvald is adamant that he does not want Nora eating macaroons, for he fears her teeth will rot and she will gain weight.  Nora, however, repeatedly sneaks candies behind Torvald's back.  This scene foreshadows the conclusion of the play.  Nora seeks freedom from Torvald and the limitations society has placed on her.  By rebelling through harmless actions, Nora is fulfilling her inner need to feel a sense of meaning in a male-dominated society.

mewbank | Student

I fully agree with what everyone wrote. The macaroons symbolize the start of Nora's separation from Torvald. By sabotaging her beauty (ruining her "white teeth" and "perfect figure") Nora exhibits, although miniscule, a rebellion towards Torvald. The macaroons allow a first glimpse of Nora's desire for independence. Nora's craving for the forbidden macaroons imply her crave for a detached life from Torvald.

anastaciaid | Student

I agree with the macaroons representing deception. Nora has sneaked around Torvald's back for 8 years and the ease with which she lies about eating the macaroons shows how comfortable she has become with doing things that Torvald dislikes. She lies to him without giving it a second thought. In reality their marriage is a web of lies.

rpatrick3677 | Student

Okay cool, I found the right page because I know you two.

I think the macaroons represent her desired independence from Torvald. She says that he doesn't like her eating them because they destroy her teeth. By eating them, she's destroying her beauty; therefore, she is destroying the main reason why he married her and this entire situation foreshadows a doomed relationship.

haleyhoefflin | Student

It seems to me that the macaroons are the first hint that Nora has a willingness to change. Plus, Torvald does not want her to have them which draws more attention to the parent-child relationship they have going on. As far as who she offers them to, it's like the stockings. She hides the macaroons from Torvald, but not from Kristine or Rank. This shows how she can be herself with them better than she can be with her own husband.

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A Doll's House

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