The term "tarantella" originally referred to an exorcism ritual that existed in Greece around the year 2000 BC. During ancient times in Italy a type of poisonous spider was so prevalent that it took the name Lycosa tarantula. Its venom was thought caused a hysterical condition known as Taranism. The symptoms of which were an irresistible need for a wild and rapid whirling motion bringing the victim to the point of exhaustion. For long time, the local population believed that the only way to suppress the symptoms and to cure the bite was by using a very rhythmic and fast music. The music played for the cure became known as Tarantella. The tradition is still very present in the area, and is known as "Neo-TarantismThe music is used in the therapy of patients with certain forms of depression and hysteria, and its effects on the endocrine system recently became an object of research.
In A Doll’s house, Helmer forced Nora to dance the tarantella at their party. Nora and Torvald had taken a vacation to Italy before the novel began. Italy was the place the poisonous spiders were thought to have lived during the ancient times. Nora is constantly running around from place to place becoming easily excited. After dancing the tarantella at the party Nora comes to her senses and leaves Torvald. She realizes that he is a coward and treats her as if she was a toy that belonged to him.