How and why does Nora’s costume change through the play ‘doll’s house’?
The play ‘doll’s house’ written by Henrik Ibsen is written in a naturalistic style. Naturalism -in reference to art (including theatre), the belief that life should be presented with the kind of objectivity comparable to that used in scientific description; on stage, details of set, props and costumes would be as true-to-life as possible1. From this definition it is understood that the costume in the naturalistic style takes part in creating a perfect illusion of reality on a stage but also to support a production by showing character’s personality, age, class etc.
Ibsen lived in Norway and placed the action of ‘doll’s house’ there2. It is 1879, Norway. Women are starting to fight for their rights. But till now they still do not have an access to higher education or they do not have control of their own wealth. But there is a good move towards extending women’s rights. Writers, teachers and socially committed women give speeches to share their point of view3. Nora will goes through the journey of growing from a child who is led by someone to a women who makes her own decisions and her costume is there on a stage to mirror the change in her, support the play and make the change practically visible for the audience.
The dresses that were worn by women back in the time when the ‘doll’s house’ took place were modest with only few feminine attachments (Fig 1). The texture had to be warm enough for women not to be cold in the rough climate. The costume designer has to be aware of that especially that the play takes place during winter, around Christmas time and the dress has to match those circumstances to make as perfect illusion of reality as possible. Nora uses three outfits during the play; two based on Norwegian style and one is a dress for the tarantella dance.