In addition to stereotypes,symbols such as the macaroons, Christmas tree and the tarantella dance alsohelps bring about the Victorian perception of women. In the play, macaroons areone of the things that Nora is restricted from having by her husband, Torvald,and they act as a symbol of the things that are within her reach but she cannotgrasp.
Nora tells Mrs.Linde, “He’s worried they’ll ruin my teeth” (Ibsen19), meaning that by eating the macaroons, she is destroying her beauty; thistells us that Torvald believes that Nora’s outward appearance is the mostimportant thing about her. The macaroons symbolize anything that destroys awomen’s outward appearance, this highlight the Victorian percept that theutmost significant trait of a woman was merely her outward appearance andnothing else. The prohibition of macaroons by Torvald and her indulging inanything that destroy her beauty, highlights the Victorian percept that womenwere supposed to be submissive. The prohibition of macaroons also emphasizesthe inferior weight of Nora’s decisions within the household and consequently,underlines and reinforces the era’s widespread percept that men dominatedwomen, even in aspects of their own bodies. Another example of a symbol that isutilized is the Christmas tree itself.
The Christmas tree is a decorativeobject that in a way symbolizes how Nora ought to be in her time and theplaywright effectively uses it to underscore the Victorian percept that womenwere nothing but decorative objects. The Christmas tree symbolizes Nora’sposition in the household, which is dictated by societal views of what a womanis supposed to be. A Christmas tree is decorated in a way to fit with the furniturein the house and the playwright uses the this to compare Nora to a decorativeaddition to the house that is only pleasing to the eye. Likewise, Nora adds tothe superficial festivity to the home. This underlines the Victorian perceptthat women were seen as a mere decoration and had no other role other than stayat home. Additionally, Nora, in the very beginning of the play tells thenurse, “Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen.
Be sure the children do notsee it until this evening, when it is dresses” (Ibsen 7). This reflects Nora’schildish-secretive tendencies. This parallels with when she does not allowanyone to see her in the dress until the evening of her tarantella dance. Whiledressing the tree Nora points out, “The tree shall be splendid! I will doeverything I can think of to please you, Torvald! -I will sing for you, dancefor you” (Ibsen 26).
The idea of the Christmas tree being lovely correlateswith the idea of Nora obeying her husband’s instructions and being the house’sentertainment. Similarly, the tarantella dance also symbolizes a different sideof Nora that she cannot really express, her fierce and passionate side. Thetarantella dance also strips her of her perfect housewife façade, to which shewas expected to adhere as a woman in the Victorian Era. This highlights theVictorian percept that a woman’s duty to her man was above her own identity.Furthermore, as mentioned above Nora says, “I will do everything I can think ofto please you, Torvalds!- I will sing for you, dance for you” (Ibsen 26). Thisbrings out the Victorian percept that a woman’s primary job was to entertainher husband in any manner required. Ibsen uses the symbols ofmacaroons, the Christmas tree and the tarantella danceto demonstrate the Victorian perception of women.