What is the significance of the title of A Doll's House

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The title of A Doll's House is a reference to the protagonist, Nora, and her domestic station in life.

Consider what a doll's house is in the literal sense of the term. It is quite beautiful and meticulously put together, but that is because its only purpose is to be viewed and admired. It is not meant to serve any utilitarian function or possess any practical value. It could honestly be considered to be a toy, a fixture, or even a trophy. Indeed, this is certainly how Torvald seems to consider his wife. The most immediately striking aspect of how he regards her is his tendency to treat her like a young child, forbidding her from indulging in sweets and chastising her playfully about the most trivial of matters.

Just as a literal doll's house's decor is likely to starkly contrast the world around it, so too is Nora's life a completely isolated bubble from the outside world. The central conflict of the play that relates to the secret loan serves as Nora's exposure to the world outside of her bubble. Soon after, she realizes that to become her own person, she has to escape from her societal constraints, and she can only do this by leaving her husband.

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The significance of the title lies in the fact that Nora Helmer has been treated like a doll throughout her whole life. First her father and then her husband treated her this way, keeping her in a permanently infantilized state.

At no point did either man accept Nora for what she is. In keeping with the prevailing standards of Norwegian society they actively prevented Nora from developing as an adult. They unthinkingly accepted the dominant prejudice that the public world is an exclusively male domain from which women must be systematically excluded for their own good. Instead, they believed that women are to be confined to the home, where they will perform their duties as wives and mothers.

So as well as being a doll, Nora is confined to a doll's house, an unreal place radically separated from the world outside. And it is from this childish fantasy world that has been built around her that Nora must escape if she's to develop as a human being in the fullest sense of the word.

A doll's house represents an idealized picture of the outside world, but due largely to her interactions with Krogstad, Nora is no longer prepared to live under any illusions. It's time for her to break free from the doll's house and venture out into the big wide world on her own.

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The significance of the title of the play A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, is that it foreshadows the dynamics that take place in the Helmer household. Moreover, it also helps unveil the real role that Nora plays within her family; that of a mere entertainer to her husband and children. In the end, the title of the play becomes sort of a misnomer, since Nora actively moves away from the role of a "doll" and moves on to try to become a fully-grown, and real woman.

From the very beginning of the play, we notice how Nora's playful ways are quite enabled, and even encouraged, by her husband, Torvald. It encourages the audience to question the purpose of two adults conducting their communication in such a way. However, later we realize that this is perhaps one of the many tricks that Torvald uses to somewhat manipulate Nora's childish behavior, as well as to reinstate his role as the "man" of the house. It is a condescending way to treat people, nevertheless.

We also get to the conclusion that Nora is, essentially, a lonely woman. Torvald is obviously always working and she does a great job at keeping the image of the "cute" housewife. However, having a nurse/governess, in the house and almost nothing else to do leads Nora to be a bit of a spendthrift and to do things, albeit, silly things, behind Torvald's back.

HELMER:Don't disturb me. [A little later, he opens the door and looks into the room, pen in hand.] Bought, did you say? All these things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?NORA:Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to economize

  HELMER: Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly.

However, we know that the "doll" image that Nora projects actually hides a woman that needs a lot of validation. She has never been respected for her worth as a wife and mother, but instead, gets attention by acting up and pretending to be childish. Even Mrs. Linde, her friend from many years ago, realizes this in Act II:

NORA:[...] To-morrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the Stenborgs', who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learnt at Capri.MRS. LINDE:I see; you are going to keep up the character.NORA:Yes, Torvald wants me to....

Finally, Act III shows what happens when the truth about Nora's transactions are discovered, and she sees how Torvald at first is unable to see beyond the embarrassment that she causes. Later, when he sees that no harm is done and he changes his mind, she finally changes her own.   

With these words, Nora finally realizes that she had been a doll to everyone she ever loved.

NORA:It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with papa, [...] He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live with you—HELMER:What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?NORA:[undisturbed]. I mean that I was simply transferred from papa's hands into yours.
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