Animal imagery in Henrick Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House is a critical part of the character development of Nora, the protagonist.
Ibsen uses creative, but effective, animal imagery to develop Nora’s character throughout the play. He has Torvald call his wife “his little lark”(Isben) or “sulky squirrel”(Isben) or other animal names throughout the play. He uses a lot of ‘bird’ imagery-calling her many different bird names. The name Torvald uses directly relates to how he feels about her at the time. The animals Ibsen chooses to use are related to how Nora is acting, or how she needs to be portrayed.
For instance: Not even a dozen lines into Act I, Torvald asks (referring to Nora), “Is that my little lark twittering out there”(Isben) and “Is that my squirrel rummaging around?”(Isben) A lark is a songbird; a happy, carefree bird. It is can also be used as a verb that means to engage in spirited fun or merry pranks. A squirrel is quite the opposite: it is a small, furry rodent. If you are to squirrel away something, you were hiding or storing it, kind of like what Nora was doing with her bag of macaroons. Torvald calls her these names to fit the situation.
Nora was definitely a care free woman, just like a lark, and Torvald refers to her as such: “my little lark”(Isben). When he says that, Nora is moving around the room and humming with a carefree spirit that would characterize a lark. Whenever she has this spirit, Torvald refers to her as his “little lark.”(Isben)
On the other hand, Nora must be some sort of scrounge, because Torvald also refers to her as his “little squirrel.”(Isben) He asks if “that is my squirrel rummaging around”(Isben). It seems that maybe Ibsen was usi…
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…al in the character development for both characters, showing really how both sides perceive the other.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Baruch, Elaine Hoffman. “Ibsen’s Doll House: A Myth for Our Time.” The Yale Review 69 (1980): 374-387.
Durbach, Errol. A Doll’s House: Ibsen’s Myth of Transformation. Boston: Twayne, 1991.
Ibsen, Henrick. A Doll House. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999. 1564-1612.
Northram, John. “Ibsen’s Search for the Hero.” Ibsen: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Rolf Fjelde. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1965. 107-113.
Salomé, Lou. Ibsen’s Heroines. Ed. and trans. Siegfried Mandel. Redding Ridge: Black Swan, 1985.
Templeton, Joan. “The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen. PMLA 104.1(1989): 28-40.
Theme of Self-discovery in The Awakening and A Doll’s House
The Theme of Self-discovery in The Awakening and A Doll House
In Chopin’s The Awakening and Ibsen’s A Doll House, the main characters each experience an awakening. Although they lead different lives, Nora Helmer and Edna Pontellier’s respective awakenings are caused by similar factors. From the beginning, neither character fits the standard stereotype of women in the society in which they lived. Another factor that influences Nora and Edna’s awakenings is their marital relationship. Neither Nora nor Edna are treated as an equal by their husband. When each woman realizes that she is unhappy, she understands that she must leave her position and role in life in order to fully find herself.
Nora and Edna are not perfect models of the late nineteenth century woman. Women in this time period were under the control of either a father or a husband. Each woman was expected to become a wife and mother. Both Edna and Nora have nurses to care for their children, taking over the role of mother. In The Awakening, Edna is described as a woman who is “not a mother-woman” (Chopin 10). During the summer at Grand Isle, the other mother-women watch their children carefully, clothe them, bathe them, and take care of them. Unlike the others, Edna walks the beach while her children are being protected by their nurse. Edna’s sentiments toward her children are best described in Chopin’s narrative: “She was fond of her children in an uneven impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (24).
In A Doll House, Anne-Marie is the nurse who watches over Nora and Torvald’s three children. Anne-Marie is more of a mother to the children than Nora is. For example, when the…
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…ad to their respective awakenings. Edna and Nora are not typical nineteenth century women in respect to their roles as mother and wife. They both have marriages in which true love does not exist. Later, each must leave her life to discover the woman who lies hidden inside.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: W. W. Norton