Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen

Act Two

Summary Act Two

Something glorious is going to happen.

See Important Quotations Explained


It is Christmas day. The messiness of the area around the Christmas tree indicates that the Christmas Eve celebration has taken place. Nora paces the room uneasily, muttering to herself about her dilemma. The nanny comes in with Nora’s costume, and Nora asks her what would happen to the children if she, Nora, disappeared altogether. Mrs. Linde enters and agrees to mend Nora’s costume for her. Nora tells Mrs. Linde that Dr. Rank is sick with a disease he inherited from his father, who was sexually promiscuous. Mrs. Linde guesses that Dr. Rank is the mysterious source of Nora’s loan, but Nora denies the charge. Mrs. Linde remarks that Nora has changed since the previous day. Torvald returns, and Nora sends Mrs. Linde to see the children, explaining that “Torvald hates the sight of sewing.”

Alone with Torvald, Nora again asks him to save Krogstad’s job. Torvald tells her that Mrs. Linde will replace Krogstad at the bank. Torvald says that Krogstad is an embarrassment and that he cannot work with him any longer. He explains that they are on a first-name basis only because they went to school together and that this -familiarity humiliates him. When Nora calls Torvald’s reasoning petty, he becomes upset and sends off a letter dismissing Krogstad. He then goes into his study.

After Torvald exits, Dr. Rank enters and hints that he expects something bad to happen soon. When it becomes apparent that he is referring to his health, Nora is visibly relieved that Dr. Rank is speaking about his own problem and not hers. Dr. Rank tells her that he will soon die and that he doesn’t want his best friend, Torvald, to see him in his sickbed. When the end is near, he tells Nora, he will leave a calling card with a black cross across it to indicate that his death is imminent.

Nora begins to flirt with Dr. Rank, coquettishly showing him her new stockings. She hints that she has a great favor to ask Dr. Rank (presumably she would like him to intervene on Krogstad’s behalf). Before she is able to ask her favor, however, Dr. Rank confesses his love for her. This disclosure disturbs Nora, and afterward she refuses to request anything from him, even though he begs her to let him help. He asks whether he should “leave for good” now that he has proclaimed his love for her, but Nora is adamant that he continue to keep Torvald company. She tells Dr. Rank how much fun she has with him, and he explains that he has misinterpreted her affection. Nora says that those whose company she prefers are often different than those she loves—when she was young, she loved her father, but she preferred to hide with the maids in the cellar because they didn’t try to dictate her behavior.

The maid, Helene, enters and gives Nora a caller’s card. Nora ushers Dr. Rank into the study with her husband and urges the doctor to keep Torvald there.

Krogstad enters and announces that he has been fired. He says that the conflicts among Nora, himself, and Torvald could be solved if Torvald would promote him to a better job in the bank. Nora objects, saying that her husband must never know anything about her contract with Krogstad. She implies that she has the courage to kill herself if it means she will absolve Torvald of the need to cover up her crime. Krogstad tells her that even if she were to commit suicide, her reputation would still be in his hands. Krogstad leaves, dropping a letter detailing Nora’s secret in the letterbox on the way out.