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Ib Literature Written Assignment Outline

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IB Literature Written Assignment Outline



How does Ibsen utilise the Tarantella to portray Nora’s growing inner conflict?

Motif: Tarantella (Aspects: Costume, Dance, Music)

Ultimately exploring:

The oppressive nature of the patriarchal society system during the Victorian Era and the impact it had on Nora’s struggle for self-discovery.  

Main Points:

  1. Ibsen explores Nora’s costume while performing the Tarantella to emphasise the effect of patriarchal conformity on her growing inner conflict as a character.
  • Titillating (Neapolitan Fisher Girl Costume), showing sensuality, eroticism and chastity)
  • "Torvald chose costume – fantasising her, directly addressing his sexual desire and his dominance towards her – reinforcing that it is actually Nora’s physical and shallow, transient qualities that he most appreciates about her. ‘Mayn't I look at my dearest treasure? At all the beauty that belongs to no one but me - that's all my very own?'...
  • Costume acts as a ‘mask’ of Nora’s identity, allowing her to perform the dance; otherwise she could not have performed it according to patriarchy
  • Attempt to rip the dress to shreds- symbolic about her feelings within the conformity within her marriage – Mrs Linde’s suggestion to repair it – symbolising Nora and Torvald must come to acceptance about Nora’s secret, which will benefit the marriage, although Nora thinks that the marriage, like the dress is beyond repair.

  1. Ibsen explores Nora’s dance of the Tarantella to highlight her expression of inner conflict caused by the oppression of her identity.
  • Torvald asking Nora to practice by herself while he shuts himself away in his office is significant in that this image of her dancing by herself highlights their mutual isolation within their marriage I'll go sit in the inner room and shut the doors, so you can make all the noise you like - I shan't hear a thing."
  • – she then persuades him to watch her in order to prevent him from opening the letter, he tries to control her…
  • Torvald (he and the rest of the society symbolises the poisonous spider, two aspects which stop her from living authentically, therefore poisoning her existence) teaches her and directs the dance for her.’Tell me what to do, keep me right—as you always do.’
  •  – she becomes out of control, which reflects her hysteria and growing angst (hair falling), symbolising her trying to get rid of the “spider poison” (in which the poison symbolises the deadly deception and toxic hypocrisy of their marriage.)
  • Include historical context of the Tarantella (tarantism) – cure was for the patient to dance until they collapse. Many people living in the higher class would fake the symptoms of this (modern psychologists see this as hysteria) – symbolising the oppressed morals of that society – women used this dance as an excuse and outlet, rather, for self-expression.

  1. Ibsen explores the music of the Tarantella to highlight Nora’s anguish and unhappiness within the confined environment of her marriage.
  • The music had an unstoppable nature – it is dangerous to interrupt the music/play the music out of tune, because the sufferers were in a state of anguish.  
  • Though the music of the tarantella is played with mandolins and guitars, tambourines are also used by the ladies who danced. The wild, shrill, ringing rhythm of the tambourine is her outlet of expressing torment and letting go of her emotions, which she is not able to physically do in society. ‘Now, you must rehearse your tarantella - with the tambourine.
  • Tambourines are also symbolic in Christianity:

Isaiah 30:32 NIV Every stroke the LORD lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm



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