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A Doll's House | Study Guide

Henrik Ibsen

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Act 2, Section 2

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 2, Section 2 of Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House.

A Doll's House | Act 2, Section 2 | Summary



Alone, Nora agonizes over Krogstad exposing the secret loan, thinking Dr. Rank may be able to help when he shows up and reveals his impending death and feelings of love for her. Krogstad drops by and demands to see Nora and, after they talk, drops a letter divulging the loan and forgery into the locked letterbox outside Torvald's office.


Typically, Nora and Dr. Rank's conversation quickly plunges into the topic of self-awareness through the doctor's confession of facing the ugly truth of his impending death. Dr. Rank says he has been "taking stock" of his "internal economy" and declares himself "bankrupt." When Nora accuses him of saying an "ugly thing," Dr. Rank says, "It is no use lying to oneself," and after one more "examination" he will face even more ugly truth; he is speaking on both literal and metaphorical levels here.

His dialogue not only shows that Dr. Rank's self-awareness is on a level higher than the other characters, but also that he, in stark contrast with Torvald, is willing to try to have meaningful conversation with Nora. Dr. Rank speaks of his fear that he will be forgotten and replaced by Christine. He confesses his true feelings of love. He confronts Nora for flirting with him and explains that she misled him. He asks her why she is laughing, whereas Torvald seems to demand that Nora laugh and sing no matter if she is happy or sad. Of Torvald, Dr. Rank says, "Helmer's refined nature gives him an unconquerable disgust at everything that is ugly." Not so with Dr. Rank, and in this section of Act 2 the audience has a window to look in at the nature of the intimacy he and Nora share. However, at the end of the conversation, Dr. Rank easily assumes that Nora's problem is the lie she uses—a new dress has come and she wants to keep it a secret from Torvald. As much as Dr. Rank embraces reality, he still lacks perception into the depth of Nora's character, leaving her to find independence and solve her own problem.

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