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

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The title of A Doll's House refers to the falsity of the Helmers' marriage and home life. Before she leaves, Nora explains to Torvald that she feels she has been living in a make-believe world where he has treated her like a plaything or a child. In the same way her father had made her his "doll-child," Torvald has treated her like a "doll-wife."

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The title of A Doll's House refers to the falsity of the Helmers' marriage and home life. Before she leaves, Nora explains to Torvald that she feels she has been living in a make-believe world where he has treated her like a plaything or a child.

Throughout the play, Torvald constantly belittles his wife. He always patronizes her, calling her by diminutive nicknames and doubting her ability to behave sensibly. Torvald is completely, but mistakenly, convinced that he is the only responsible, decisive adult in their home.

In act 3, when Torvald learns of her crime and speaks only of the associated shame of exposure, she realizes that he is not the person she thought he was. When he explicitly states that she has "become both wife and child to him," she announces that she is leaving. She points out to him that they have never before had a serious conversation. Nora underscores the fundamental problem that, rather than actually loving her, he had merely thought that it was "pleasant to be in love with" her.

Nora makes an explicit comparison between herself and a doll concerning the manner she lived with her father. Her father

called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls.

She dismisses her married life as an illusion of happiness in which she “performed tricks” for Torvald. In sum, she states,

our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls.

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

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

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

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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What is the relevance of Ibsen's title A Doll's House?

Henrik Ibsen’s ground-breaking play A Doll’s House premiered in Copenhagen in 1879.

Particularly for modern audiences, it’s easy to make the mistake of believing that Torvald Helmer does not love his wife. He patronizes, controls, and bullies her. He delights in displaying her beauty to his friends (under carefully monitored circumstances), as when he dresses her as a Neapolitan fisher-girl and has her dance at a neighbor's party. He declines to speak with her as an equal. Surely Torvald would treat Nora with more respect if he truly loved her?

The key to understanding the play — and the significance of its title — is to realize that Torvald is behaving exactly as he believes a loving husband should. He is not trying to insult or demean Nora. Both Nora and Torvald are trapped in the conventions of nineteenth century Europe: a culture that assumes the moral and intellectual inferiority of women, and believes that women have no real identity except in relation to their parents, husbands, and children.

During the course of the play, Nora undergoes a crisis and an epiphany, leading her to gain new perspective on her marriage and on her own humanity. She realizes that she has never truly grown up, never developed her own mind and spirit, never explored her own identity as an individual human being. Because of that, her marriage has been no true partnership. She has been playing at marriage, like a child playing with dolls in a doll’s house. This is a crime against her own children, but above all against herself.

Here’s how she explains it to Torvald in the final scene of the play:

NORA
We have been married now eight years.  Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?

. . .

TORVALD
But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to you?

NORA
That is just it; you have never understood me.  I have been greatly wronged, Torvald, ­first by papa and then by you.

. . .

When I was at home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.  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 ­—

TORVALD
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.  You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as you ­or else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which. ­I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other.  When I look back on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a poor woman ­just from hand to mouth.  I have existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald.  But you would have it so.  You and papa have committed a great sin against me.  It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.

TORVALD
How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora!  Have you not been happy here?

. . .

NORA
No, only merry.  And you have always been so kind to me.  But our home has been nothing but a playroom.  I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa’s doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls.  I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them.  That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.


Nora must now leave her husband and children and set out alone to educate herself:  “I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are ­or, at all events, that I must try and become one.” The click of the door closing behind Nora is one of the most famous sound effects in the history of theater.

Even today, the idea of a woman leaving her children in order to defend her own spirit is deeply controversial. When Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours was published in 1998, many readers were shocked by the character of Laura Brown, who does exactly that. Imagine the uproar sparked all over nineteenth century Europe by Nora’s determination to leave her metaphorical doll's house and step into her own humanity.

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What does the title A Doll's House mean?

The title of Henrik Ibsen's celebrated play A Doll's House alludes to the way the domineering, insensitive Torvald Helmer treats his wife, Nora, who feels like she is playing the role of a doll in their seemingly picturesque home. Torvald embodies Victorian society's belief that men should be the dominant partners in a marriage, while wives should behave as passive, obedient figures in the home.

Torvald objectifies his wife and views her as an ignorant, vulnerable person who is incapable of making her own decisions or having individual thoughts. Torvald firmly believes that he is superior to Nora and continually speaks in a condescending tone towards his wife throughout the play. For much of the play, Nora is depicted as a spoiled, submissive housewife whose primary goal is to please her controlling husband.

Torvald's use of pet names for Nora and paternalistic attitude towards her also contributes to his oppressive, insensitive characterization. Torvald simply views Nora as a plaything whose purpose in life is to be admired for her beauty and follow his instructions. He even forces Nora to dance and chooses her outfit, treating her like a doll. In the final act of the play, Nora's devastating secret is revealed to Torvald, and she experiences a dramatic transformation when she recognizes the truth about her marriage.

When Nora stands up to Torvald, she tells him that she has always been his "doll wife," just like she used to be her father's "doll child."

But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was Papa's doll child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.

Nora admits that she was simply Torvald's "skylark" and "doll" to be played with and admired, and she has treated their children as her own little dolls. Nora's doll metaphor reflects and underscores the title of the play, and she finally decides to leave her husband and family in hopes of experiencing an independent life on her own.

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Why is Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House named A Doll's House?

Ibsen names his drama A Doll's House because Torvald treats his wife Nora as a toy. Nora is Torvald's prized possession. He treats her as a child; therefore, the title is befitting. Torvald has childish nicknames for Nora, and she responds to his game as if she is actually his doll, a toy in which gives him pleasure:

However, she has continued to play the part of the frivolous,scatter-brained child-wife for the benefit of her husband.

Clearly, Torvald does not see Nora as his equal. He sees her as lesser than. She is merely his toy doll, an object with no feelings or intellect.

In the play, Nora borrows money behind her husband's back to save his life with a trip to Italy, a place with a warmer climate. When Torvald learns about Nora's secret, he yells at her and sends her to her room. At this point, Nora's true inner self is awakened. She realizes that she has been keeping up a facade, pretending to be happy.

Suddenly, she is tired of Torvald calling her chidish names such as scatter-brained. She desires her own identity. She desires to be her own person and not Torvald's doll. For this reason, Nora leaves Torvald. She sets out to become a woman with her own feelings and desires. She chooses to no longer be Torvald's doll. The doll house comes crashing down when Nora walks out the door, leaving Torvald alone to play his games.

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What is the significance of the play’s title, A Doll's House?

[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. If you have other questions, please post them separately.]

Although Henrik Ibsen is often considered an advocate for women's rights, he actually considered himself an advocate of human rights. In his play, A Doll's House, we witness how unforgiving this male-dominated society is with regard to women.

Nora's husband, Torvald, treats her like a child. He denies her sweets and calls her by pet names, as one would with a child. He compares her to a bird that cannot sing if its beat is dirtied by telling lies. Nora is totally dependent on Torvald at the beginning of the play, though Ibsen allows her character to secretly defy her husband, as she does when she sneaks candy and swears out loud in Mrs. Linde's and Dr. Rank's company.

(Mrs. Linde has also be poorly used by society. She married in order to provide for her family, but now her mother has died and her siblings are grown up and have moved out. She must now fend for herself by talking a job. Ironically, Mrs. Linde has little in the world to protect and save her, except the desperate Krogstad who delivers her from a life of loneliness, while her promise of love redeems his soul.)

Nora, on the other hand, lives a very comfortable life. She wants for nothing. However, as Mrs. Linde points out, she has been living a lie.

Years before, Nora forged her father's signature on loan papers in order to get money to take Torvald, who was desperately ill, to a warmer climate to save his life. She is very proud that she, just a woman, was successful in the attempt, and that Torvald is now in excellent health. However, she also fears that Torvald will find out and, because of his deep and abiding love for Nora, will insist upon taking the blame when the law steps in.

This "miracle" never happens. Torvald cares nothing that Nora saved his life. He only cares about the damage this will do to his reputation when the word gets out. It is at this point of the story that Nora realizes that their marriage is a sham. She has been treated badly by her father, first, and then by Torvald when they married. Neither man gave her credit for being intelligent and able, something prevalent at the turn of the century in the late 1800s. It is at this time that Nora defies social convention and leaves her husband and children.

The significance of the play's title, A Doll's House, is that Nora is treated by Torvald like a doll. She is dressed the way he prefers and she acts as he wants, not as she wants. She plays "dress up" for him at the masquerade party, and is never given credit for an original thought. He controls her and poses her as if she were a doll. It is for this reason that Ibsen gave his play this title.

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What is the significance of the play’s title, A Doll's House?

"A Doll's House" (actually, in the Norweigan it's apparently just titled "Dollhouse") is a really good title for the play, as there are lots of ways you can read it into what happens in the play itself.

  • Firstly, Torvald treats Nora like a doll, calling her his "squirrel", and patronising her with little pet names. She is like a little toy to him, not taken seriously, and not really credited with her own personality.

    Thus, Nora's exit from the house at the end is her removing herself from her role as a "doll" and stepping out into the real world for the first time. 

    Moreover, you might argue, it leaves Torvald as the "doll", the person trapped in a make-believe world, trapped in the doll's house.
  • Nora leaves her children at the end of the play. Some critics have argued that her children are also just playthings to her in the play, and that, like her housekeeping money and her macaroons, they are toys which needs to be left behind as she truly grows into a real person.
  • A doll, of course, is manipulated by its owner - it has no will of its own, and yet, even though Nora plays at being a doll, she actually manipulates Torvald and Dr. Rank quite successfully throughout the play. If this is the doll's house, Nora seems the one the most in control of it - and it is Torvald unable to operate after Nora's exit, not vice versa.

Hope it helps!

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What is the relevance of the title, "A Doll's`s House"?

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What is the relevance of the title, "A Doll's`s House"?

The word "doll" to in the title of the play is a reference to Nora. For most of the play, she is like a doll and treated like one. She is treated as an object or a toy but never as an equal to her husband, He uses patronizing pet names like " singing lark", and "little squirrel". He pats her on the head like a dog. In addition, like a toy, she is totally dependent on her master, in this case her husband, to supply all her needs. Like a doll, her real thoughts are impossible to read. She hides her thoughts and actions from her husband, as an inexpressive doll. She seems most concerned with being charming, not thoughtful and by the end of the play begins to resent her image.

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What is the relevance of the title in A Doll's House?

The title of Ibsen's classic play A Doll's House foreshadows the dynamics of the Helmer household, where Nora Helmer plays the role of a doll by simply entertaining her husband and carrying out her motherly duties. As a symbolic doll in her husband's home, Nora lacks personal agency and independence. At the beginning of the play, Nora seems content in her role as she playfully begs her husband for money and completely relies on him to unknowingly pay back her debts to Krogstad. Torvald does not respect Nora as a person and objectifies his wife. His pet names and critiques regarding her spending habits indicate that he treats his wife like a doll.

As the play progresses, Nora gradually becomes enlightened to her lowly status in her husband's home and the oppressive nature of her marriage. At the end of the play, Nora confronts Torvald regarding her decision to leave him and her children behind in order to experience genuine independence. Nora mentions that she used to play the role of a doll in her father's house and has been playing the same role ever since she married Torvald, who refuses to allow her to experience autonomy. Overall, Ibsen's title corresponds to the dynamics of the Helmer household, where Nora is perceived and treated like a doll by her insensitive, controlling husband.

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Why is the play titled A Doll's House?

In this male-dominated society, women were treated as inferior property. They went from their father's home to their husband's home and were expected to behave in a certain way. Torvald, Nora's husband, treats Nora like a child, a little doll. He has disparaging names for her, such as "little lark" or "little featherbrain". Torvald makes all decisions for Nora and establishes rules for her to follow. She's expected to play the part of the "little woman" who does as she's told, expressing no opinion and displaying no intelligence. Nora even behaves like a spoiled child because this is what Torvald expects of her.  Nora is an extension of her husband, known only as Torvald's wife who reflects his values and beliefs. As such, the title then refers to Torvald's treatment of his wife as a doll and their home as a "doll's house".

Nora's change occurs when she sees her husband's true nature. Torvald throws a huge fit, displaying his own childish nature, when he reads the first letter from Krogstad. He's only concerned about himself, and Nora refuses to accept his domination any longer. She walks out of the "doll's house" to establish herself as a woman who will be recognized for what she does and what she thinks.

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