Symbolism in A Doll’s House Ibsen
WHAT IS SYMBOLISM?
Symbolism is literacy device used by prominent playwrights in history of English literature. Keats, Blake, Shelly, O’Neil and Henrik Ibsen used symbolic representation of subject in conventional or unconventional forms. Poet explores mysties through symbolic representation. In this context “ Symbolism Manifesto” was written by (Moreas,1986). Furthermore symbolism, Jane Austin’s pride and prejudice, T.S Eliot’s “The Wast Land” and Ulysses 1992 by James Joyce are the best symbolic works.
Ibsen significantly uses the symbols (symbolism) to represent the identities and ideologies of 19th century. He uses different symbols that relate to not only culture, religion,politics but also that bears the psychological effects indeed. It is unique developed myth of literature that illuminate the hidden facts un utterly. Symbols like door, macron, embroidered dress, tree, and even the title itself is symbolic and influence at the society.
“in theatre image and object, pretense and pretender, sign-vehicle and content, draw usually close”(Bert 1996: 20).
Symbols are the portraits of the illusions and bonds of society, here Ibsen is constructing in form of ‘NORA’ in A Doll’s House. Though Shakespeare plays are beyond to Ibsen age but both uses theatrical symbols even one is Norwegian and other is Englishmen.
IBSEN’S VIEW ABOUT SYMBOLISM
Ibsen himself says’
“to try and give the reader the impression of experiencing a piece of reality”(Ibsen qtd in homer :p.72).
The language, setting and even dress, parties are realistic features shown in symbols. Ibsen portrays the bourgeois features and finedfemininities, ideologies and identities in this drama and believes in the freedom and equality of woman.
Following are the symbols used by the Ibsen
Play open with door in setting, Nora walks towards door is sign of imprisonment of woman of 19th century under the bond of marriage. She seems to be happy but in fact critics peep inside the door and find the femininity (ies) and identities of domesticate woman.
“A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the entrance-hall, an other to the left leads to HELMER:’s study. Between the doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and beyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, arm-chairs and a small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther end, another door; and on the same side, nearer the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs and a rocking-chair; between the stove and the door, a small table”.(Ibsen, A doll’ s House: 2)
The whole drama is performed inside the room. That also brings the capitalistic perspective of the society. The door opening is actually view of the domestic situation in patriarchal society we find at the dismissal of the relations again the door is in front of Nora to celebrate freedom as earlier she entered in cage created by men
Ibsen provides non verbal feminists clues as Nora’s shawl, macron, tree etc..
“Just now. [Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her mouth.] Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought”.(Ibsen, A Dolls House:4)
The self independence is governed by Torveld is depicted by Ibsen. Suffrage movement was one of the central reaction against this male monopoly. Woman was not free physically and oppressed psychologically too. That is why Nora is subordinate creature to Helmer. “She shut the door, she continues to laugh, she takes off her things, she takes a bag of macrons out of her pocket and eats one or two”
In the male dominance the issue of identities and femininities is at the verge of collapse and the gradual intensity of this tyranny make persuade to other sex to rebel and snatch the freedom that was got by Nora at the end of play. She transgendered her identity.
CHRISTMAS TREE’s Symbolism
Christmas tree is symbolic representation of the Nora’s personality. It is decorated as Nora would be on Christmas day and there is a star twinkle top of the tree that represent the hope and ambitions of Nora. The new year that starts from Christmas is symbolic to the feminists movements that give liberty to Nora against the male dominance. Nora is as attractive in multidimensional identity, a mother a daughter , a wife hence she is a pleasing object constructed by Ibsen as religion refers to Christmas.
John Northon argues that,
“the symbols is for the first time, a physical reality on the stage, a mere enough to it suggest actual presence. It is therefore both fact and symbol and from that fusion emerges the closure union of symbolism and reality which makes the play so complexly significant (the wild duck 1884, p.105-06)
SQUIRREL SKYLARK’s Symbolism
“Is that my little lark twittering out there”?(Ibsen, A Doll’s House:5)
Ibsen uses the animated and in animated choices and refers Nora to innocent bird like skylark. The linguistic choices in symbolic representation are patriarchal in nature has Sapirwhorf hypothesis languages is determined by thought and that thought gives strength to male to manipulate and enjoy the power of language Nora is inhibited in Helmer’s house and she is praised by him in metaphoric speech pattern but at the end the same skylark is ready to fly for freedom autonomy
TITLE as Symbolism
The title is in itself a symbolic note describing the femininity and identity of the Victorian society doll is a playful object for everyone and even that is a decoration piece feeling less and emotionless she is a puppet in the hand of Torveld who want to push the strings according to his wish. Nora also apparently functions as commanded doll but in the end of the play writer is succeeded to awake her from subordination and rebel from the male dominance. She is now independent and making her decision according to her will and choice. The last line she uttered is sign of change bringing the equal rights without gender segregation. The whole drama is full with linguistic lexical and symbolic references representing the female of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s house”.
“Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I have bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, and a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; a doll and dolly’s bedstead for Emmy,—”(Ibsen, A Doll’s House:5)
Toys are the clear picture of thee development of ideology and identity. Nora has bought “a horse and a sword” for her earlier son so that male is initially represented as holder of power and authority while the gifts for Emmy are dolls that is the significant example to build femininity (ies) and masculinity (ies) culturally that is why Emma is gifted by a doll. Ibsen says that a woman of his century is much advanced and womanhood is a socially constructed phenomenon created by men and female writers as symbolism.
English: Portrait of Henrik Ibsen by Henrik Olrik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)