The very first scene in A Doll’s House, opens with extremely precise and detailed stage directions. These stage directions are very important and relevant as they benefit the characters and the directors. This is so that they know the backgrounds to the event of the scene. The stage directions show us as the readers the type of character he/she is. It reflects back upon the characters personality and lifestyle. The play is based in Helmers apartment and goes straight into description.
The very first line of the stage directions gives us the impression that the Helmer’s are happy, “…room furnished comfortably…” Here we see that the room is comfortably and tastefully but not expensively furnished. Even though it is not expensively furnished we can see straight away that the room is “happy” even though the inhabitants may be poor and unhappy. The structure of the play is a one room tight fitting. The structure of a one-room use is relevant to the play as it shows the restrictions on Nora as women in those days.
The layout as a whole and the use of this structure reinforces the claustrophobic emotional nature of Nora and Helmer’s relationship. In this scene there is a lot of reference to doors. Many doors are mentioned in the stage directions of the play. The doors are a metaphor in technical language they represent opportunity when open yet restrictions when closed. We can straight away see that there is restriction when Helmer opens the door of his study room and looks in from his study.
There are many props used in the play one of the props that has been used is the stove. It provides artificial warmth and heat, providing comfort from the cold. It is winter so therefore metaphorically everything is dead. This symbolizes that Nora’s life is also dead like the trees in winter. Nora turns to the stove because it is evident that she is not getting the love and warmth from her husband, so therefore she uses the stove to make up for that loss.
When Nora comes inside the house from outside she is wearing a coat, the coat/garment suggests that it is worn by Nora to protect her, not just from the cold outside but also the world outside as well. The coat and cloak is worn by Nora to protect her from the world outside. The outside world symbolises Nora the way in which everything is metaphorically dead out side whilst she is emotionally dying inside. However as Nora comes into her house she does take her coat off, this shows that she feels as though there is some security for her inside. However the feelings of love and wanting are not there so Nora turns to the stove for artificial comfort.
Nora takes her coat off once she is inside because she feels safe inside the house so there is no need for the protection. In the first scene, Helmer appears indulgently to endorse his wife’s role as his “squirrel”, his “skylark”, his “little bird”, his “squander bird”, and a pretty little creature that gets through an awful lot of money. At first sight Nora appears to the audience as an expensive pet for a man to keep. It is Christmas Eve. Nora has been out shopping. When she returns her husband Trovald immediately comes to see what his ” Little squirrel” has bought. This creates an image of immaturity for Nora. Trovald feels that his irresponsible Nora lets money run through her fingers. So he should control the cash in the house.
Nora has been on a Christmas shopping-spree on the basis that her husband’s promotion at the bank now means they can afford extravagances, which would have been impossible in previous years. This is a happy Christmas for the Helmer’s because Trovald has recently been appointed manger of the bank. Which means a better income for the Helmer’s. We can see that in previous years the Helmer’s have had many financial problems. The Helmer’s believe this Christmas will bring them happiness and joy back into their lives.
Christmas is a time of rebirth and forgiveness and brings hope for the future. From what I know about the play I see that Nora is shown to be very childish, devious and concealing by Ibsen. At the beginning of the play Nora is still a child in many ways, listening at doors and guiltily eating forbidden sweets behind her husbands back. She has gone straight from her fathers house to her husbands, bringing along her nursemaid to underline the fact that she’s never grown up.
She’s also never developed a sense of self. She has always accepted her fathers and husbands opinions. Nora is also aware of the fact that Trovald would have no use for a wife who was his equal She humours Helmer by ignoring his comments and plays along with him. She has many childlike manners for example she eardrops her own husbands door. Throughout the play Nora is reborn. She becomes mature from immature, from ignorant to acknowledgeable. This fits in with the theme of Christmas, which Ibsen chose to set the play. As we come towards the end of the play we can see that Nora has discovered her true self.