How does the bird motif depict Nora's self-discovery journey in A Doll's House?

Expert Answers

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

Written by Norwegian Henrik Ibsen in 1879, A Doll’s House is a three-act play that takes part in one room of the upper-middle-class home of married couple Torvald and Nora Helmer. Nora is a young woman, a mother to three children, and the play’s protagonist.

Torvald treats Nora like a delicate and beautiful but caged bird. Feeling superior to her, he expects her to be obedient and instructs her in every area of her life. For example, he tells her how to care for their children, what clothes she should wear, what food to eat, and whom she should see.

You see Torvald is so terribly in love with me that he says he wants me all to himself. When we first married, it even used to make him sort of jealous if I only as much as mentioned any of my old friends back home. So, of course, I stopped doing it.

He also tells her how to conduct herself and what to think. He sees it as Nora’s duty to amuse and entertain him and to keep him happy—as if she were a pet.

Torvald also expects Nora to be outwardly joyful, and when she is, he says that she is like a "songbird" or a "skylark." If she is scared, then he calls her a "dove." But, like a bird, Nora is not as delicate as she appears, and when she realizes the truth of her marriage, she unclips her wings and escapes from Torvald’s cage, taking flight in search of freedom and herself.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial