What literary devices are used in A Doll's House?

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There are several literary devices used in A Doll's House.

First, there is a great deal of irony in the play. As he is trying to calm his wife, Torvald demonstrates verbal irony when he tells Nora , "You will see I am man enough to take everything upon...

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There are several literary devices used in A Doll's House.

First, there is a great deal of irony in the play. As he is trying to calm his wife, Torvald demonstrates verbal irony when he tells Nora, "You will see I am man enough to take everything upon myself." Yet Torvald could not even navigate his own health issues in the past; Nora had to secretly pay for his treatments herself. Later, when Nora tells Torvald that she is leaving him, he begs her to stay and even offers to live like "brother and sister" instead of man and wife. Torvald is so baffled about Nora's decision to leave that he cannot fathom how he could have possibly influenced her decision. Clearly, he is not able to "take everything upon [himself]" and validate his wife's needs.

Mrs. Linde uses a simile when she recalls a comment Krogstad made and then admits that she understands this comparison: "I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some wreckage." This simile portrays the sense of desperation that Mrs. Linde feels, completely alone in the world.

There are numerous examples of foreshadowing in the play, as well. The play opens with Nora snacking on some macaroons, and later in the scene, Torvald questions her about it: "Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth been breaking rules in town today?" The fact that Torvald has "rules" for his wife to follow is shocking, but then Nora lies about eating those sweets several times during his subsequent interrogation. Nora's need to hide such a trivial fact from her husband establishes an undercurrent of deceit and foreshadows further trouble on the horizon.

Those macaroons can also be seen as a symbol in the play, representing Torvald's need to control his wife and also symbolizing Nora's deception. Dolls are another symbol used to represent women who are easily controlled by the men in their lives. Nora tells Torvald that her father called her "his doll-child" and that she has become Torvald's "doll-wife." Interestingly, earlier in the play, she calls Emmy her "sweet little baby doll," indicating that Nora has been raising her own daughter to fulfill this same passive role which she has grown to hate.

The ending can also be seen as a paradox. As she leaves, Nora tells Torvald that he cannot write to her, because she cannot receive anything "from a stranger." On a superficial level, this seems to be inherently untrue. After all, Nora and Torvald have been married for years. She has birthed his children and has even risked her own reputation in order to secretly obtain funds for medical treatment for him. Yet in the end, Nora realizes that Torvald never really knew her at all; he has only seen his wife as a "heedless child" who needed his guidance and influence.

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