“A Doll’s House,” is a three-act play written by Henrik Ibsen. The play is set in a Norwegian town around the late 1800’s. It tells the story of a married woman whose circumstances lead her to seek self-fulfillment in a male dominated world when she finally realizes that she is not valued or happy living her present life. The setting of the play takes place in the living room of the house she shares with her husband and children. It slowly transitions from neat and tidy to a more run down and messy atmosphere, like how the protagonist’s world is falling apart around her.
The description of items and their use of placement on the stage from Act I compared to Act II and III reflect how Nora and Torvald Helmer’s relationship is deteriorating and how things are no longer perfect within their household. As well, the room ambience and prop changes coincide with the changes in Nora’s thinking. Her life view shifts from an unauthentic oppressed woman of privilege who believes she needs a man to provide for her and make her happy; to one who wants to discover who she truly is and forge her own future. I will show how the elements in their household setting change to reflect the differences in their marriage and in Nora’s mental state. The beginning of the play is full of love, luxury and harmony and is reflected in the setting.
The well-maintained and richly furnished living room is decorated tastefully, showing the importance of money and respectability. The fire, lit candles and stove show a home filled with warmth and merriment. The Christmas tree which Nora has purchased symbolizes the life, energy and spiritual strength enjoyed in the home. Christmas represents family, and Nora’s happiness shows she enjoys performing the role of a wife and mother.
Her choice of toys suggests she buys into traditional gender roles: the girl must be a nurturing wife and mother, and the boys strong and powerful. Everything indicates that Nora and Torvald Helmer live a harmonious married life. At the same time, Nora’s request for money to buy something for herself suggests she does want the ability to make decisions for herself. Torvald not entrusting Nora with the money for her own present demonstrates the imbalance of power in their marriage.