From now on, forget happiness. Now it’s just about saving the remains, the wreckage, the appearance.

Torvald speaks these words in Act Three after learning of Nora’s forgery and Krogstad’s ability to expose her. Torvald’s conversations with Nora have already made it clear that he is primarily attracted to Nora for her beauty and that he takes personal pride in the good looks of his wife. He has also shown himself to be obsessed with appearing dignified and respectable to his colleagues. Torvald’s reaction to Krogstad’s letter solidifies his characterization as a shallow man concerned first and foremost with appearances. Here, he states explicitly that the appearance of happiness is far more important to him than happiness itself.

These words are important also because they constitute Torvald’s actual reaction to Nora’s crime, in contrast to the gallant reaction that she expects. Rather than sacrifice his own reputation for Nora’s, Torvald seeks to ensure that his reputation remains unsullied. His desire to hide—rather than to take responsibility—for Nora’s forgery proves Torvald to be the opposite of the strong, noble man that he purports himself to be before Nora and society.