In Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, what are the three most significant moments that show that Nora is a doll, or being treated like a doll?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Henrik Ibsen, in his play A Doll's House, gave us several instances in which we can see that Nora is being treated like a doll, or doll wife, rather than a real human being. Listed below are a few of the most significant instances:

The first moment in which we can see Nora being treated like a doll takes place in the opening scene. We see that Torvald has many pet names for Nora, such as lark and little squirrel. When he hears Nora enter the house, he asks her "Is that my little lark twittering out there?" and "Is it my little squirrel bustling about?"(Act I). But these endearing phrases stand in great contrast to his next line: "Don't disturb me" (Act I). These endearing names in conjunction with his treatment of her shows just how little respect he actually has for her and just how little he takes her seriously. His lack of respect is further shown when he calls her a "featherbrain" for so called "wasting" money on Christmas gifts that Nora bought very cheaply (Act I).

A second occurrence proving that Nora is nothing but a doll to Torvald is Torvald's reaction to Nora's request that Torvald let Krogstad keep his position at the bank. Torvald treats her request with complete disregard. Nora, like a doll, asks her husband "If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very prettily--?" and of course, like a doll, Torvald refuses to take her request seriously (Act II). He has his own opinion of Krogstad and refuses to bend to the ideas of his doll.

A third moment signifying that Nora is being treated as a doll is when Nora is practicing the Tarantella in front of Torvald. Ibsen goes to great extent to describe Torvald standing beside her, giving her "frequent instructions," while she dances violently and Dr. Rank plays the piano (Act II). Finally Torvald exclaims, "Stop, I tell you! I could never have believed it. You have forgotten everything I taught you" (Act II). Just as Torvald instructs Nora about macaroons in Act I, Torvald believes that it is his right to instruct Nora into whatever he wants her to be. Just like a doll, Torvald believes he can bend her, and pose her, and make her look however he wishes.

mathebula | Student

the dance of tarantela, playing with her children to Torvald signifies Nora's role and that Torvald and Nora's father was taking Nora as a child who needs their care and lessons