What do the macaroons symbolize in A Dolls House?

From the opening moments of A Doll's House, Ibsen establishes the macaroons as a defining symbol of key aspects of both Nora’s and Torvald’s characters and marriage. Ibsen thus immediately establishes the macaroons as a symbol to represent the oppressive condition of Nora’s domestic life under Torvald’s disproving and diminishing eye, where Nora feels the need to lie about her humblest indulgence to maintain her husband’s good favor.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Nora’s character makes her initial entrance, the first thing she does after tipping the porter is to make sure the coast is clear to furtively pop a couple of the dainty confections into her mouth while Torvald is in his study. Her submission to Torvald’s will stems from her financial dependence on him, as well the societal expectations pressuring Nora to be a dutiful wife and ethereal creature of beauty and grace. Secretly munching macaroons is one of the few gestures of rebellion available to Nora, so by giving in to her sweet tooth, she is asserting her will at home, albeit in private.

By repeatedly referring to Nora as his “squirrel” and “skylark,” Torvald demonstrates his cutesy diminution of Nora’s womanhood and humanity, and the animal references have dual significance. First, the scene of Nora hurriedly inhaling the macaroons on the sly does indeed suggest the image of a squirrel gleefully enjoying its trove of acorns, or perhaps a songbird pecking at some...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 813 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on