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A Doll's House | Symbols

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Money

Money symbolizes men's control over women, who are not allowed equal access to it. The play begins with Nora coquettishly asking Torvald for money and ends with her refusing to take any belongings from his house except those she owned before they met. She also rejects his offer to help her financially as she leaves. Christine, in direct contrast to Nora, has means to make money, which gives her the power to make her own choices.

Tarantella

The tarantella is an Italian folk dance based on the frenzied movements victims make to draw out the poison after being bitten by a spider. Ibsen chose Nora to dance the tarantella to align the symbol in the play with the myth already associated with the dance. It also symbolizes the pretense Torvald and Nora have set in the play as the staple of their relationship. He instructs, and she performs. He criticizes, and she "dances" faster to please, but that doesn't please him either. When Nora rehearses the tarantella, she dances with wild abandon. She is trying to please, but she is also frantic to remove the "poison" of corruption Torvald has suggested she possesses when he refers to Krogstad's lack of character.

Birds

When Nora is happy in the way Torvald likes and expects, he calls her his "skylark" or "songbird." When she is frightened, she is his "dove." When he is unhappy, Torvald scolds Nora, referring to her in terms of birds, such as "A songbird must have a clean beak." Birds represent Torvald's view of Nora as a creature meant to entertain and delight him, whom he must protect. They also represent Nora's flight to freedom, as she is like a bird in a cage, singing for her keep in the beginning of the play, but escaping by the end.

Questions for Symbols

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What animals did the Sky Spirit create? How? Its the story “When Grizzlies Walked Upright” but did he create the bears for what they did?
What are the rules for changing /n/ to [m] and the rules for the bat-bet allomorphy in Bizcayan (Western Basque)?
For each of the following items, indicate in the space to the left whether it is a fused sentence (“FS”) or a comma splice (“CS”). Then, correct the error by adding a period or a semicolon. Capitalize
What might the birds’ restlessness and large numbers foreshadow?

Flashcards for Symbols

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Term:

THE FROGS

Definition:

Dionysus wants to bring playwright Euripides back from the dead. Enlists help of Xanthius (a slave) and Heracles. While on the River Styx w/ Charon, Dionysus hears the chorus of the titular creatures. Discovers ongoing conflict b/w Euripides and Aeschylus ("who's-the-best-playwright"). Aeacus tries to kill Dionysus. Contest arranged b/w playwrights to see who can write/speak the "weightier" line. Aeschylus wins b/c he gives practical answers. Aeschylus returns to Athens.

Term:

THE CLOUDS

Definition:

Faced with legal action for non-payment of debts, Strepsiades, an elderly Athenian, enrolls his son in The Thinkery (the "Phrontisterion") so that he might learn the rhetorical skills necessary to defeat their creditors in court. The son thereby learns cynical disrespect for social mores and contempt for authority and he subsequently beats his father up during a domestic argument, in return for which Strepsiades sets The Thinkery on fire.

Term:

THE BIRDS

Definition:

Pisthetaerus, a middle-aged Athenian, persuades the world's birds to create a new city in the sky, thereby gaining control over all communications between men and gods. He is miraculously transformed into a bird-like figure and, with the help of his friends, the birds, and with advice from Prometheus, he soon replaces Zeus as the pre-eminent power in the cosmos.

Term:

THE ORESTIA

Definition:

Set of three plays written by Aeschylus telling about Agamemnon's murder and Orestes' revenge.

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