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A Doll's House

A Doll's House


by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll's House Act Two Summary

  • Stage directions tell us that we're in a same room. The Christmas tree is now stripped and bedraggled.
  • Nora walks nervously around the room.
  • She checks the mailbox, but nothing is in it.
  • She tries to reassure herself that nothing bad will happen.
  • A maid named Anne enters. She carries a box of masquerade costumes.
  • Nora asks how the children are. Apparently, she's been avoiding them.
  • Anne says they're playing with their Christmas presents.
  • Nora asks if it was hard for Anne to give up her daughter.
  • Anne tells her that she didn't have much of a choice. She got pregnant by a slick good-for-nothing and was lucky to get the job wet-nursing for Nora.
  • Nora comments that she knows Anne would take care of her children if she weren't around anymore.
  • She tells Anne to go and tend to the children.
  • Mrs. Christine Linde shows up.
  • Nora shows her the costume she's going to wear to the Stenborgs' party. It's a Neapolitan fisher girl's outfit. Torvald wants her to wear it and dance the tarantella.
  • Christine says she'll help Nora fix it up a bit and asks if she can come by and see Nora in the costume.
  • Christine goes on to say that she had a nice time hanging out last night, but asks if Dr. Rank is always so depressed.
  • Kind of, says Nora, but usually not that bad. He's got a good excuse, though, as he has tuberculosis in his spine. Somehow he got it from his father, who was known to keep mistresses.
  • Christine asks her if Rank is honest. When they met he said that he'd heard her name a lot around the house, but Torvald seemed to never have heard of her.
  • Nora says that she only talked to Rank about Christine. She can't talk about her old school friends around Torvald or he gets jealous. She says she can talk to Rank about anything.
  • Christine asks if Rank lent Nora the money for Italy.
  • Nora says it was someone else.
  • Christine advises her friend to stop hanging out with Rank so much, implying that he's probably interested Nora.
  • Nora ponders borrowing money from Rank to pay back Krogstad. Then she could get her forged note back and destroy it.
  • Christine admonishes her for going behind her husband's back. She can tell that Nora is hiding something from her and asks what it is.
  • Nora avoids the topic and sends her friend off to another room, asking her to help mend her costume.
  • Torvald enters.
  • Nora tells him that she'll do anything he wants if he'll do her a favor: not fire Krogstad.
  • Torvald informs her that he's giving the job to Christine.
  • Nora asks him to fire somebody else and let both Nora and Krogstad have jobs.
  • She goes on to point out that Krogstad writes for small newspapers. He might write nasty articles about Torvald if he's fired.
  • Torvald asks her if she's having bad memories of her father, who got in legal trouble and was slandered in the papers.
  • Nora tells him yes that's exactly what she was thinking about and compliments Torvald on how kind he was when the government sent him to investigate.
  • Her husband says there's a big difference between her father and him. His public affairs are beyond reproach, while her father's dealings were a little shady.
  • Anyway, Torvald has already told everybody at the bank that he's going to fire Krogstad. He's worried that if he changes his mind it might get around that his wife had overruled him.
  • Also, he used to know Krogstad when they were kids. Krogstad insists on calling Torvald by his first name, which is really embarrassing for Torvald given Krogstad's checkered past.
  • Nora calls Torvald petty for worrying about something like that.
  • Not the thing to say, evidently. He gets angry and sends the maid off with a letter informing Krogstad that he's fired.
  • Nora freaks out and begs him to get the letter back.
  • Torvald forgives her for her behavior, because it shows how much she loves him. He says that even if trouble comes from the firing, he's tough enough to take it.
  • Nora assures him that he won't have to face the troubles alone.
  • Torvald reassures her that everything will be fine, and asks her to tell Rank to come to his office when he gets there.
  • He exits.
  • Alone in the room, Nora has a panic attack.
  • The doorbell rings.
  • Stage directions tell us that, over the course of the next scene, it starts to get dark outside.
  • Dr. Rank enters.
  • Nora lies and says that Torvald is busy right now. Rank will have to hang out and talk to her for a while.
  • It comes out that Rank's tuberculosis has gotten really bad.
  • He makes Nora promise to keep Torvald away from his sick room. His buddy is evidently very sensitive to such unpleasantness and Rank doesn't want to upset him.
  • Rank tells Nora that he'll put his business card with a black cross on it in the mailbox when he's starting to die.
  • Nora complains that Rank is being morbid and depressing.
  • Well, I am dying, says Rank. He complains that it's not even his fault; he apparently inherited the disease from his overindulgent father.
  • Dr. Rank comments that Christine Linde will most likely replace him as Nora's friend after he dies.
  • Nora tells him that he's her best friend and starts to ask him for a favor.
  • Rank cuts in and admits that he's in love with her and will do anything for her.
  • Nora becomes uncomfortable and tells him he shouldn't have said that.
  • Rank asks what favor she wanted.
  • She says she can't ask him anymore now that he's said how he feels.
  • Rank says that sometimes it seems like Nora loves him more than she does Torvald.
  • She replies that sometimes the people you have the most fun with aren't the same as the ones you love the most. When she was a kid she loved her father the most, but had the most fun gossiping with the maids.
  • Oh, so I'm like the help, comments Rank.
  • Nora denies that, but says the way she relates to Torvald is pretty similar to the way she related to her father.
  • A maid comes in and gives Nora a card.
  • Nora seems upset by it.
  • Rank asks her what's wrong.
  • Nora lies and says it's about her costume, and sends him into see Torvald.
  • Krogstad enters.
  • He says that he's received notice that he's fired.
  • Nora tells him that she tried hard on his behalf.
  • Krogstad says he's surprised that Torvald would fire him, knowing what power Krogstad had over him.
  • Nora informs him that Torvald doesn't know.
  • Krogstad offers to settle the whole thing between the three of them. Nobody else has to know.
  • Nora says that Torvald can't know.
  • Krogstad wants to know if she can find the money to pay him off in the next couple days.
  • Nora, thinking of Rank, says there's no method of getting the money that she's willing to use.
  • Krogstad says it wouldn't do her any good anyway. He'd still have the note that she forged.
  • He warns her not to run away.
  • Nora tells him that she'll pay him whatever amount he's trying to extort from her husband, but Krogstad claims he doesn't want money.
  • He plans to use Nora's crime to blackmail Torvald into giving him a promotion. In a year or so, he thinks he'll be running the bank and not Torvald.
  • Nora threatens to commit suicide.
  • Krogstad doesn't believe she'll do it. Anyway, it wouldn't do any good. He would still be able to ruin her reputation, which Torvald would never let happen. No matter what Nora does, Krogstad will still have power over Torvald.
  • He makes his exit and drops a letter to Torvald in mailbox on the way out.
  • Christine comes in, having finished mending Nora's costume.
  • A panicked Nora admits everything to her friend. She says she's afraid that Torvald will take all the blame onto himself when he finds out.
  • Nora thinks this act of self-sacrifice will be a wonderful thing, but terrible as well.
  • Christine reassures Nora, telling her that she and Krogstad used to be close. She'll go and convince him to ask for his letter back unopened.
  • She hastily exits, telling Nora to stall Torvald and not let him check the mail.
  • Torvald and Rank enter.
  • Nora tells Torvald that she's really nervous about her dance at the party. She desperately needs him to help her practice the tarantella.
  • He helps her practice.
  • She dances wildly, flailing about.
  • Christine returns and catches the last bit of Nora's desperate dance.
  • Torvald tells her she's got a lot of practicing to do.
  • You're right, says his wife. You've got help me with it every moment between now and the party. You'll have no time for tedious things like opening letters in the mailbox.
  • Torvald calls her out, guessing that there's a letter from Krogstad out there.
  • Nora begs him not to open it until after the party, saying that she doesn't want any unpleasantness to ruin the event.
  • Torvald agrees.
  • He and Rank exit.
  • Christine tells Nora that Krogstad has gone off to the country until tomorrow night. She left a note for him to come meet her.
  • Nora says that it can't be stopped. She's almost glad about it in a strange way. If Torvald finds out then the wonderful thing will happen.
  • Christine advises her to just go ahead and tell Torvald.
  • Nora says Christine doesn't understand, and sends her in to hang out with the men.
  • Nora looks at her watch and counts out the hours she has left to live.
  • Torvald pokes his head in the door and asks for his skylark.
  • She runs into his open arms.

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