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How does Ibsen use motifs throughout the play to emphasise change in Noras character?

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Introduction

How does Ibsen use motifs throughout the play to emphasise change in Nora's character? Henrik Ibsen in 'A Doll's House' written in 1879 uses the repetition of motifs throughout the course of the play to emphasise how the characters go through a series of changes in their characteristics and relationships. Ibsen makes use of motifs such as a Christmas tree, fancy dress, macaroons and doors to highlight changes throughout the play. We see how many of the motifs stress how important Helmer sees appearance to be in order to have a good life; we see Nora complying with his rules. However, by the end of the play the reader can see the changes in Nora and Helmer that have taken place as the way that Ibsen use of the motifs has changed. In the exposition of the play we see Henrik us the motif of the Christmas tree to represent the Helmers family household. At the beginning of the play the Christmas helps represent the family unity and celebration within the household. When the Christmas tree is first brought into the house Nora make a big deal about its appearance: "The children mustn't see it before I've decorated it this evening"1 By using the motif of the Christmas tree, Ibsen is showing how important appearance, celebration and family life are to Nora and Helmer. ...read more.

Middle

The fancy dress that Nora wears helps show that Nora still loves Torvald as is willing to dress up for him and be his 'doll'7. Ibsen uses clothing to symbolise the exact moment that Nora and Torvald's relationship changes inside the play. "Yes Torvald, I've changed"8 Literally these words mean that she has changed out of her fancy dress costumes back into normal clothes however they also signify how Nora's character has changed. As she has witnessed Torvald's reaction to him finding out about the forged signature she has realised that Torvald isn't the man that she though he was. She no longer loves him and therefore no longer willing to dress up for him in the fancy dress clothes, she has changed into her normal clothes symbolising how she is no longer his toy. In the denouement of the play Nora changes back into her outdoor clothes which signifies how she is no longer loves Torvald enough to allow herself to be treated like his toy. Similarly to the exposition of the play the outdoor clothes symbolise how she does not belong in the house and is instead, a force that is returning to natural world instead of the materialistic world that Torvald created for her inside of his 'dolls house'. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the Christmas tree deteriorates and finally disappears, so does Nora's willingness to put up with the way that Torvald treats her, her love for him. Secondly the motif of clothing and its emphasis throughout the play helped clearly show how Nora was willing to be Torvald's doll as she loved him so much. However, clothing also helped to symbolise the clear turning point in her love for him and her clothes changes when her attitude towards Torvald changes and realises that he wasn't the man she thought he was. Lastly the motif of 'freedom' and how Nora chooses to define it throughout the play helps the audience see a clear change in Nora in the course of the play. Firstly she relies on Torvald to define her freedom for her as she was willing to do whatever he wanted, however by the end of the play after his betrayal towards her, she defines her own freedom and becomes an independent woman. I think that Ibsen's use of motifs successfully emphasises the changes in Nora's character as they clearly allow the audience to see the contrast in Nora's character at the exposition and denouement of the play and how she has gone from being Torvald's 'doll' into discovering herself, leaving the household and becoming her own woman. ...read more.

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