A Doll's House

Dressed to Impress: The Role of the Dress in Cinderella and A Doll's House

The donning of her [dancing] dress has brought about the turning point of her life.

-Barbara Fass Leavy

Dress and outward appearance have historically played a significant role in the plot development of fairy tales. Perhaps the most famous dress in our collective memory is that which was bestowed upon Cinderella by her fairy godmother. A less prevalent dress, though by no means less important, is seen in Ibsen's A Doll's House. Nora's Italian tarantella costume is in fact functionally similar to Cinderella's ball gown. Although they are obtained in different ways, and ultimately achieve different ends, dresses in both Cinderella tales and A Doll's House serve the same purpose of allowing the heroine to transcend beyond the constraints society has placed on her.

In Cinderella stories, elaborate dresses, the presence and absence of them, play a pivotal role in the protagonist's ability to overcome her hardships, and to achieve her true potential. Elisabeth Pantajja, in her essay ³Going up in the World: Class in Cinderella,' ² examines the role of clothing as a ³political tool of the petit-bourgeoisie² (99). The removal of certain types of clothes, she argues, is representative of removal of social...

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