A Doll’s House – Summary

A Doll’s House is a three-act play written by a Norwegian play wright Henrik Ibsen.

Table of Contents

Summary

Act I

Act I of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House opens with the housewife Nora Helmer arriving home from a Christmas shopping trip. Her husband, Torvald, greets her and playfully comments on her for spending such a lot of money. Nora argues that since Torvald was recently promoted at work, the Helmers have more financial comfort than they had in previous years. As they talk, the doorbell rings. The Helmers’ maid Helene informs them that two guests have arrived: Dr. Rank, an old and close family friend who is terminally ill, and, much to Nora’s shock, her old-fashioned friend Christine Linde.

After the guests are admitted, Dr. Rank and Torvald meet in Torvald’s study while Nora and Mrs. Linde remain in the living room. Nora feels bad for Mrs. Linde as she is now a childless widow and apologizes for not staying in-contact after marrying Torvald. Mrs. Linde explains that she has lived a tough life since her husband died and feels lost with nobody to care for and concern for. Mrs. Linde hopes Nora might convince Torvald to offer her employment or some work at the Bank that he now manages, which Nora agrees to try to do. Nora then recounts the woes of her first year of marriage, wherein Torvald fell ill from overwork. To treat him and revive his health, the Helmers had to require an upscale trip to Italy. At first, Nora claims that her wealthy father gave them the cash. However, after Mrs. Linde insinuates that Nora doesn’t understand true suffering, Nora reveals that she acquired the cash by removing a loan— something she shouldn’t have legally been ready to do.

When a junior bank employee named Krogstad arrives requesting to ascertain Torvald, both Nora and Mrs. Linde react uneasily. Dr. Rank, who joins Mrs. Linde and Norato offer Torvald and Krogstad privacy, calls Krogstad “morally sick.” After Torvald and Krogstad’s meeting ends, Torvald, Dr. Rank, and Mrs. Linde depart the Helmers’ home, leaving Nora to play together with her children. Krogstad then returns to talk with Nora privately, revealing that he’s the source of her loan. He also reveals that he is aware of Nora illegally forged her father’s signature on the bond. Torvald intends to dismiss Krogstad from the bank, so Krogstad uses the proof of Nora’s forgery to blackmail her into advocating for him and supporting his job. When Torvald returns home, Nora talks to him and attempts to convince him to stay Krogstad employed at the bank. Torvald reprimands her for advocating for Krogstad and shares with her that the first crime that ruined Krogstad’s reputation was a forgery. Torvald further reiterates that he hates people who lie, keep secrets and corrupt their families. This opinion disturbs Nora.

Act II

As Act II opens, Nora nervously paces the front room. Her maid Anne-Marie arrives with the dress that Nora is going to be wearing to a celebration subsequent night. As Nora and Anne-Marie converse, Nora reveals that she has been avoiding seeing her children. She also laments that they might probably ditch her if she left permanently.

Mrs. Linde arrives to assist Nora to manage her dress for the party. She tries to ask Nora about her relationship with Dr. Rank, implying that Nora may have received the cash from him. Nora denies the accusation but seems intrigued by the thought. Their conversation is interrupted by Torvald’s arrival. Nora once more attempts to convince Torvald to not fire Krogstad. She tells him that she is worried that Krogstad will write slanderous and defamatory articles about the Helmers. Torvald reassures her that he will handle any fallout, which only distresses Nora further. She decides to not allow Torvald to require the autumn for her actions.

Dr. Rank arrives soon after and informs Nora that he is very sick and will die soon. He asks Nora to not tell Torvald because Torvald doesn’t handle “ugly” things well. As they talk, Nora asks Dr. Rank if he would do her a favor. He agrees and adds that he would do anything for her becausehe’s crazytogether with her. Unsettled by his remarks, Nora scolds Dr. Rank and refuses to inform him what favor she had planned toask him for. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a visitor. Knowing that it’s Krogstad, Nora asks Dr. Rank to stay. Torvald occupied, claiming that she doesn’t want her husband to ascertain her in her finished dress.

Krogstad reveals that he has received his dismissal letter. He tells Nora that he will now not publicly expose her forgery but makes a plan to blackmail Torvald into giving him a promotion at the bank to fix his reputation. Nora gets scared and offers to finish her own life to spare Torvald the blame, shame, and scandal, but Krogstad tells her that it’ll not change anything. Torvald believes that a man always remains socially in charge of his woman’s actions.

As he leaves, Krogstad drops a letter explaining Nora’s actions into the Helmers’ letterbox. After Krogstad leaves, Nora frantically reveals everything to Mrs. Linde. Shocked, Mrs. Linde informs Nora that she and Krogstad wish to be romantically involved. Mrs. Linde promises to undertake to convince Krogstad to require his letter back. Meanwhile, Nora attempts to stop Torvald from reading the letter. She asks him to assist her to rehearse the dance she is about to perform at the party the subsequent night. Torvald indulgently agrees.

Mrs. Linde returns with the news that Krogstad has left town and won’t return until the subsequent night. Mrs. Linde left a letter for him and plans to talk with him when he returns. An increasingly desperate Nora redoubles her efforts to distract Torvald from the letters.

Act III

Act III begins the next day evening. The Helmers are attending a celebration, and Mrs. Linde is waiting there for Krogstad. When Krogstad arrives, he’s initially hostile towards Mrs. Linde, accusing her of abandoning him for a richer man. Mrs. Linde tells him that she did what she had to try to supply for her family. After revealing their mutually unhappy circumstances, the two reconcile and comply with marriage. Krogstad remorsefully agrees to require his letter back, but Mrs. Linde stops him. She believes that it’s important for Nora to be honest with Torvald. Krogstad then departs after agreeing to send a second letter clarifying that he does not intend to use Nora’s forgery against the Helmers.

Nora and Torvald return from the party shortly after that. Mrs. Linde greets them and tells Nora that Krogstad has not taken the letter back. Mrs. Linde then departs, and Dr. Rank arrives. He uses coded gestures and tells Nora that his disease has progressed to a fatal point in which he plans to lock himself away to die. Nora tells him to “sleep well” and asks him to wish an equivalent for her.

After Dr. Rank leaves, Torvald checks the letterbox. The only letter he gets is Dr. Rank’s death notice. Torvald is saddened to listen to his friend’s impending death. He retires to his study. Nora hurriedly prepares to go away from the house. She has decided to end her own life. But before she leaves, Torvald confronts her about Krogstad’s letter. Nora is scared when Torvald furiously berates her. He threatens to bar her from seeing her children because he believes she would corrupt them. Finally, instead of risking the damage to his reputation, he plans to travel alongside Krogstad’s demands. Nora grows increasingly cold as Torvald insults and humiliates her. She realizes that he’s not the person she thought he was.

Torvald’s diatribe is interrupted by the arrival of Krogstad’s second letter. The second letter contains Nora’s bond and a promise from Krogstad that the Helmers don’t have anything to fear from him. Torvald is overjoyed, and he immediately claims to possess forgiven Nora for everything. However, after seeing Torvald’s reaction to the primary letter, Nora decides to go away from him. She accuses both Torvald and her father of infantilizing her, treating heras sort of a “doll” instead of a rational person. Torvald attempts to convince her to remain by citing the social, moral, and nonsecular repercussions of her leaving. However, Nora insists that she must become independent and learn to think for herself. She insists that the laws prohibiting women from removing loans are unjust, and she or he points out that Torvald would have died had she not taken him to Italy. Despite Torvald’s begging, Nora leaves him and her children. the ultimate direction depicts Nora shutting the door behind her as she leaves.


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