A FEMINIST READING AND SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF HENRICK IBSEN’S ‘A DOLL’S HOUSE(6)

The latter has always been replete by Nora’s presence. Dr. Rank leaves behind his visiting cards with black crosses printed over his name specifying his death which is imminent. The ‘Christmas tree’ represents the family union and bliss. In Act 1, we acquire a glimpse of it which is soon concealed by the maid. We are able to perceive the household exhilaration and serenity. When Krogstad daunts Nora, she orders the maid to bring the tree and concentrates on its decoration, attempting to forget Krogstad’s foxification. In the beginning of Act 2, the Christmas tree is lackluster, stripped of its decorations, evidencing Nora’s inability to allay her mushrooming fears, due to Krogstad’s threat.

The Tarantella is an aggressive dance performed by those stung by ‘Tarantula’ a poisonous spider. In simplest terms it is indecisiveness between life and death. The dance is symbolic of Nora’s frantic attempts to outmaneuver the perils harassing her life. She even contemplates suicide to relieve herself from the scandal.

“Twenty – four and seven? Thirty one hours to live.”

While rehearsing for the Tarantella Nora is wearing a variegated shawl. This symbolizes Nora’s desperate urge to adhere to life, albeit Krogstad has intimidated to blow it up. But for the event she uses a black shawl which symbolizes that the course of the events in her life would go awry within a short while. The play begins with the maid opening the ‘door’ and admitting Nora inside the house. This is an indication that she is imprisoned in Helmer’s household and is his stringed puppet. During the denouement of the play, she walks out of the marriage slamming the door behind her, which reflects her burgeoning individuality and redeemed spirit. In the words of Adrienne Rich:

“Be insatiable: save yourself; others you cannot save.”

Isn’t it better to be proactive rather than reactive? Nora’s exit from the doll’s house would not have distorted the patriarchal conventions; men will not undergo an instantaneous change of heart, for that would definitely be cinematic. But she has made a prominent difference, created awareness, a progress, which may not provoke men and women into action, would at least reverberate in their minds and stimulate them into introspection. Nora is only a spark, but this spark is sufficient to light millions of lamps and spearhead the way. This spark is also capable of setting ablaze the patriarchal system. Nora venturing in this untrodden path is reminiscent of Robert Frost’s philosophy in “The Road Not Taken”: “Two woods diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Let’s hope that there would be fewer doll’s houses in future.