What are some absolutely necessary props in A Doll's House and why are they important?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Let's begin with stage directions and then move on to symbolism.

Stage Direction props, Act I

As the initial (and ongoing) setting of the play, this particular furniture should take the look of a proper, upper-middle class home in "any" suburb, not necessarily connected to Norway. It is the 19th century Industrialist society where family and gender roles are strongly enforced and "the cult of the lady" as well as the "cult of domesticity" entail that the female touch represents the lady of the house; that the wife is happy because the husband can provide (Schwartz-Cohen, 1983). Therefore, the decoration should enhance the following initial directions:

  • A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study.
  • Engravings on the walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a small book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a fire burns in the stove.

Notice that all of this is meant to bring out the atmosphere of domesticity that is rampant during the historical setting of the play. During this Act we find some indiscretions concerning Nora:

  • the eating of macaroons (a prop loud enough to sound like macaroons being chewed might be good.
  • the huge Christmas tree that she seems to have paid a lot for "first Christmas we have not had to economize".
  • the tree is also symbolic of the spirit of the season: family, warmth, and love...all of the things that Nora leaves behind. Hence, make sure the entire scene is clad in Christmas undertones and decorations.

Act II

  • Another pointer of the tree: it is allegorical to Nora's role in the home as well. This time the tree is now placed in the corner of the room, so it must be quite huge and visible. As the directions state it must be
    stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its disheveled branches. NORA'S cloak and hat are lying on the sofa.
  • A calendar projection: so that the reader can make the connection between the time Nora made the deal with Krogstad (2nd October) and the time that her father died (29th September), making it obvious that Nora forged her father's signature.
  • The letterbox: since it will be the vessel that carries the fate of Nora, it should be bright, big, and visible.

ACT III

  • Dr. Rank should be clad in black as he is about to die.
  • Dr. Rank's requiem card should be over-sized and show the black cross.
  • The tambourine, tarantella dress: a Spider imagery should be put in the background; Nora is weaving her own web of lies and she is about to get caught. The tambourine should be loud, as it shows how Nora is also losing control of herself and becoming out of sorts.of a shipwreck somewhere, representing Krogstad and Linde during their dialogue.
  • Make the door a different color, as many will exit it and won't come back
  • Image of a doll should be projected during the last scene. The door should be glowing with a stage-light.
Sources:

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