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A Doll's House

Lesson 6


Analyze and explain the symbolic significance of the tarantella dance.

Analyze the power dynamics between female and male characters in this scene. Explain how their roles reflect the roles available to women in Victorian society.

Readings and Materials

  • Play: A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen  — pp. 42-50

Target Task


Multiple Choice

Krogstad and Nora’s interactions on p. 45 (“Oh, you can’t frighten…” through, “…no hope for us now”) deal with all of the following EXCEPT

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Writing Prompt

Explain how Ibsen uses the tarantella scene to communicate a message to his audience. Use evidence from the play to support your answer.

Men are as confined as women by Victorian values and norms. Agree or disagree? Explain.

Key Questions


  • The word “courage” is repeated often throughout this scene. Where else has it occurred? Why is Ibsen repeating this word? 
  • In what ways does Krogstad seem to feel trapped by Helmer and Nora? Is he truly a victim here?
  • The motif of letters occurs throughout the play. Letters are also a hallmark of the “well-made play.” How does the letter in this scene help to move the plot forward? What does it symbolize? (p. 45)
  • What does Christine offer to do to assist Nora? What does the scene between them reveal about the power dynamics between men and women in the play? In Victorian society
  • What does Nora do to distract Helmer from the letter box? How does this dance and the rolls that Helmer, Nora, and Rank each play in the dance help to further characterize each of them?
  • What does the tarantella serve as a symbol of? How does Ibsen use this symbol to develop the theme of appearances? What does the dance seem to foreshadow?
  • What do Helmer’s actions during the dance reinforce about his character?
  • What is this “wonderful thing” that Nora is predicting will happen? What hints does Ibsen give us?



  • In the analysis of the tarantella scene, the teacher may wish to introduce the concept of a “death dance.”
  • Many analyses of this play see Nora’s tarantella as a sort of death dance—a reminder of the ultimate fate that unites us all and the futility of expending too much energy and effort on the appearances and vanities of this life.
  • The concept of a well-made play will be introduced in more detail in lesson 9. If the teacher wishes to introduce it briefly on this day, the letter from Krogstad is a great opportunity.