And later determinedly claimed, “You shall never have to do that. ” Nora has obviously set her mind to prevent this horrible ‘miracle’ from happening at all costs, even if she has to exchange her life for it. Mrs. Linde, after learning of the horrible news, she offers to look for Krogstad and persuade him to ask for his letter back. In the meantime, Nora has to keep Torvald occupied to prevent him from reading his letters yet, and she successfully does so by insisting on Torvald to coach her on her tarantella dance for the costume party the next night.
… Helmer: But, Nora darling, you’re dancing as if your life depended on it! Nora: So it does. Ironically, the tarantella is rapid whirling dance from Southern Italy, commonly known as a dance to shake off the deadly bite of a tarantula spider. This makes it a rather fitting symbol in this situation.
Nora dances as if her life depends on it, dancing more and more wildly, as if to shake off the disaster, or even death itself. Nora confirms that the end of the tarantella tomorrow night symbolizes the end of her life, announcing, “Seven hours till midnight. Then twenty-four hours till midnight tomorrow. Then the tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and seven… thirty-one hours to live. ” In addition to that, Nora becomes very “wild and excitable”, calling for a “champagne supper – lasting till dawn” and “lots and lots” of macaroons, “just for once”.
This is possibly Nora’s way of celebrating her death, enjoying herself “just for once” before she kills herself. Towards the end of the play, Nora decides to accept the whole thing as fate. “Nora : Now you must read your letters, Torvald. ” This shows that she has made up her mind, and instead of accepting Torvald’s refusal to read his letters as an opportunity to delay the ‘miracle’, she resolutely insists on it happening. What she doesn’t expect is that instead of proceeding with the ideal line of conduct, Torvald flies into a vulgar rage and accuses her of disgracing him.
“Helmer:… Do you realize what you’ve done? Answer me – do you realize?… Nora : Yes, now I’m beginning to realize everything? ” Nora comes to a realization, not of what she had done to Torvald, but that he is not the man she thought him to be. Her disillusion is further displayed, “Nora looks fixedly at him without speaking” and when Torvald again angrily questions her about her understanding of her doing, “Nora : Yes”.
Later, after Torvald receives another letter from Krogstad detailing his apology and with the bond enclosed inside, Torvald rejoices and after destroying all the evidence, resumes to his normal state and forgives his wife. Nora returns to her room, and in reply to Torvald’s question of her action, stated, “I’m taking off my fancy-dress”. This sentence is meant in a literal way, but at the same time, also symbolizes Nora ‘taking off’ her illusions, removing her mask and role as Torvald’s doll wife. This signifies the end of her marriage, and after a ‘reckoning’ with Torvald, she leaves him in search of her own life.
Ibsen has cleverly used symbols to externalize the characters’ inner problems in A Doll’s House. From small actions such as moving to the stove, to significant symbols, such as the tarantella, he has managed to effectively convey to the audience what each character is thinking, and hints of upcoming events, without using too much monologue. While preventing the audience to be totally at sea at what is going on, it also keeps the play enjoyable and realistic, making A Doll’s House as popular as it is.