Henrik Ibsen’s drama A Doll's House is an analytical, three-act drama that follows a clear structure. The physical and time setting of the action will be closely examined and discussed. T he physical setting is especially notable, as the entire action takes place in the Helmer family's apartment.

The language of the characters offers important information about them.  The way people speak to  Nora, for example, makes it clear that she is not taken seriously. At important points in the plot, Nora’s monologues offer her thoughts and fears, which arise as a result of Krogstad's blackmail.

Our analysis also goes into the various symbols and leitmotifs: dolls, costumes, masks, the Christmas feast, and the promissory note. Likewise, we look at the nicknames Nora’s husband uses, which highlight her role and Torvald’s opinion of her.

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

From the very beginning of the play, it is striking how often Torvald metaphorically compares Nora to birds: "Is that my little lark twittering out there? (Act 1, 5%). She is his songlark and a skylark (Act 1. 5%), both songbirds that were readily kept in cages indoors in those days under circumstances not appropriate to their species: "Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?" (Act 1, 5%). 

Torvald also refers to his wife as an expensive investment that costs him "a deal of money" (Act 1, 7%). It is precisely this financial dependence that is the symbolic "bird food" that keeps Nora from flying away. Again and again, Torvald gives Nora money to keep her in a good mood. Only when Nora realizes at the end that she can survive alone and be independent of her husband, who loves her only superficially and does not understand her true nature at all, does she try to win her freedom.

The songbirds were not only kept for decorations, but also encouraged to sing by bird organs (so-called serinets). This circumstance recalls Torvald's instructions that Nora should rehearse a dance for the masked ball. While he plays the piano, she dances around him almost as if out of her mind. He later also shows her off like a trophy. In this sense, their marriage works very well: Nora plays her role as the little bird in a golden cage admired by everyone, and Torvald is the one who feeds, educates, trains, controls, and restricts her like a tamer.

Likewise, Nora is there for Torvald’s entertainment. He finds enjoyment in her dancing, dressing up, and declaiming for him. He is happy that the financially difficult times are over, since they can now spend more time together. Again, he thinks only of himself: "This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone" (Act 1, 17%).

As a symbol, the bird stands for freedom and independence, both things that are absent from Nora's life at this point. Instead, she lives like a songbird in a golden cage and serves to bring joy to her husband. This role is consistent with the patriarchal social order of the time, in which men hold power. 

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