Symbolism in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”

There are at least three symbols in the play, ranging from the title of the play, the card with the black cross, to the slamming of the door.

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Symbolism is a prominent feature in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. There are at least three symbols in the play, ranging from the title of the play, the card with the black cross, to the slamming of the door at the end of the play.

A Doll’s House

The title of play, “A Doll’s House,” is symbolically significant as well as highly suggestive of the message that Ibsen seems to have intended to convey through the play.

The keywords in the title are the “doll” and the “house.” The “doll“ represents Nora, the protagonist of the play while the “house” symbolizes the Helmers’ house where Nora lives.

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A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.

Nora, to Helmer, is like a doll which he can play with and direct to any area he wants. Nora also says at the end of the play, she had been her father’s doll until her marriage. And she has been Helmer’s doll for eight long years.

“…but our home has never been anything but a playroom, I have been your doll wife just as I used to be papa’s doll child. And the children have been my dolls. I used to think that it was fun when you came in and played with me, just as I think it is fun when I go in and play with them. That’s all our marriage have been.”

— Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll House.

The Card with the Black Cross

Another significant symbol in Henrik Ibsen’s play is the card with the black cross.

The card with the black cross is used to signify the end which means death for Dr. Rank who suffers from a disease contracted from his father. He says:

“as soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I shall send you my card with a black cross on it, and then you will know that the loathsome end has begun.”

— Dr. Rank in Ibsen’s A Doll House.

The Slamming of the Door

Nora’s slamming of the door behind her and her exit into the outside world symbolizes the new woman leaving behind the male dominated homes, society, traditions, laws, values and mentalities like that of Helmer.

The action also symbolizes the willingness to take the step of seeking challenge and a more respectable identity at the cost of all risks.

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