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Summary

A Doll's House Act Three Summary Page 1

  • Stage directions tell us we're in the same room.
  • A lamp is burning, so it must be nighttime.
  • Music is heard from the apartment upstairs.
  • Mrs. Christine Linde sits on the sofa, reading a book. She seems to be waiting impatiently for someone.
  • Krogstad shows up.
  • He asks why they're meeting at the Helmers' house.
  • Christine says it's because there's no private entrance a the place where she's staying.
  • Krogstad wonders why she's asked him to talk. Evidently, in the past she dumped him abruptly for the man she married.
  • She tells him she had to do it because the man had money and she had to support her family.
  • Krogstad tells her that ever since she left him, he's been a like a man lost at sea on a wreck.
  • Christine admits that she feels the same way and suggests that these two shipwrecks get together.
  • She goes on to say that he's the whole reason she came to town. She says she needs someone to work for, to help, or she feels like she doesn't have a purpose in life.
  • Krogstad accuses her of being a hysterical woman, looking for a chance for self-sacrifice.
  • She points out that she's never hysterical. It just makes sense; the two of them need each other.
  • Krogstad grabs her hands and thanks her. (Looks like these two shipwrecks are getting together.)
  • The tarantella music is heard in the apartment upstairs.
  • Christine exclaims that the Helmers will soon be down.
  • Krogstad laments his blackmail attempt.
  • Christine tells him that she knows all about it and that his letter is still in the mail box.
  • He asks if she's trying to get back together with him just to save Nora.
  • She replies she sold herself once back in the day, and she'd never do it again.
  • Krogstad declares that he'll demand his letter back.
  • Christine tells him not to. She thinks all the lies in the Helmer house need to come to light.
  • Krogstad says there's one thing he can do for them at least, but doesn't exactly say what it is.
  • He exclaims about how happy he is before he exits. After her leaves, Christine exclaims her happiness as well.
  • The Helmers enter.
  • Nora wears her costume; Torvald is dressed in evening attire.
  • Nora complains that she doesn't want to leave the party so early.
  • They notice Christine, and greet her.
  • She tells them that she dropped by to see Nora's costume.
  • Torvald describes Nora's performance upstairs. He thought it was just a bit too realistic. She was a bit too much like a Neapolitan fisher girl for his taste. Still, the other guests loved it and they've just made a grand exit to thunderous applause.
  • He goes to light some candles.
  • Nora whispers to her friend, asking what went down with Krogstad.
  • Christine tells her that everything is cool with Krogstad, but that Nora still has to tell Torvald everything.
  • Nora decides to let Krogstad's letter do the talking.
  • Torvald notices that Christine has been knitting while she waits. He admonishes her, saying she should embroider instead. Why? Because he thinks embroidering is more tasteful; knitting needles almost look Chinese.
  • He demonstrates the best embroidering method.
  • Christine takes her leave.
  • Torvald talks about how exhilarated he feels. (Translation: he's a bit drunk.)
  • Nora says she's tired.
  • Her husband tells her how glad he is that she is his possession.
  • She tells him that he shouldn't talk to her that way tonight.
  • Torvald talks about how he likes to pretend like Nora isn't his wife when they go to parties. He likes to imagine that she's his secret lover.
  • He goes on to mention how turned on he got watching her dance the tarantella.
  • Nora is not interested.
  • Rank stops in.
  • Torvald comments on what a wild time his friend seemed to be having at the party.
  • Rank says, Why not? You should live everyday like it's your last.
  • He says he had a right to drink a lot tonight, because he had a very productive day.
  • He spent it doing medical research and has found something for sure. (Subtext: he's found out he's definitely dying.)
  • Torvald asks Rank what he'll dress as for next year's masquerade.
  • Rank replies that he will be invisible.
  • He asks for a cigar.
  • Nora lights it for him.
  • He leaves.
  • Torvald goes to the mailbox. He notices that someone had been trying to pick the lock. One of Nora's hairpins is jammed in it.
  • Nora blames it on the children.
  • Torvald finds two cards from Rank in the mailbox. They have black crosses on them.
  • Nora explains to him that the crosses are Rank's way of announcing his death.
  • Torvald feels sorry for his friend, saying it's hard to imagine his life without him.
  • Torvald goes on to say that he's glad he has Nora. He tells her that sometimes he wishes she were in terrible trouble so that he could save her.
  • Nora tells him he should read his mail.
  • He in a romantic mood and more interested in spending some time with her. Alone.
  • She replies that it would be inappropriate, since they just found out their friend was dying.
  • He agrees and goes off to read the mail.
  • Nora freaks out about her life being over.
  • Torvald bellows in the next room.
  • Nora screams.
  • He bursts in and asks if Krogstad's letter is true.
  • She confirms that it is, and begs him to not try and save her.
  • Torvald makes no mention of trying to save her. Instead, he rips into his wife, saying she's just as disgusting as her father was.
  • He laments that all his happiness is now destroyed, because he'll have to do whatever Krogstad says.
  • Nora alludes that she may commit suicide.
  • Her husband tells her it won't do any good, Krogstad would still have power over him and people would suspect him as an accomplice. (So, he's not at all worried about the fact that Nora would be dead?)
  • Torvald tells his wife how ungrateful and terrible she is.
  • He demands that she take off her costume.
  • He tries to think of a way to cover up the whole thing up.
  • He tells Nora that she can still live in the house for the sake of appearances, but that in reality their relationship is over. Also, she's not allowed near the children, for fear that she will corrupt them.
  • A maid enters with a letter for Nora.
  • Torvald grabs it and reads.
  • He completely changes his mood.
  • The letter is from Krogstad. It says that he's had a happy turn in his life and that he's ashamed that he tried to blackmail them.
  • The envelope also includes Nora's forged note. They're saved.
  • A jubilant Torvald throws the letters in the fire.
  • He tells Nora that he forgives her. He goes on to say that he loves her even more now, having forgiven her from the bottom of his heart. It as if his possession of her has grown even greater. He tells her not to worry; he'll continue to guide her through life as if she was a child.
  • Torvald notices that his wife is furious.
  • She says that they've never understood each other and points out that they've never had a serious conversation about anything. Ever.
  • He can't understand why she'd want that.
  • Nora accuses Torvald and her father of doing her wrong.
  • Torvald comments that they both loved her.
  • She says that they both treated her like a doll. They dressed her up and played with her, made her into what they wanted her to be.
  • Nora recognizes that she's never actually been happy with Torvald.
  • She says she's leaving him and the children. She has a duty to herself that she's never fulfilled.
  • Torvald is flabbergasted.
  • Nora informs him that she's going to spend the night at Christine's.
  • Her husband admonishes her, saying that she's forsaking her sacred duties to her husband and children.
  • Nora says she realizes everybody will agree with him, but she doesn't care.
  • Torvald appeals to her religious beliefs. What would Jesus do?
  • Nora says she's not sure she ever believed in any of it.
  • Even the laws of the country are questionable to her. Why shouldn't she be able to spare her father's feelings on his deathbed and save her husband's life?
  • Her husband tells her that she's just too ignorant to understand the society in which she lives.
  • Nora agree that may be the case, but she's got go out and learn for herself. She has to know if she's right or the rest of society.
  • She tells Torvald that she no longer loves him.
  • He asks why.
  • She says that this evening when the wonderful thing didn't happen, she realized he wasn't the man she thought he was.
  • She never thought that he would try to cover it all up. Nora thought he'd stand up and try to take the blame for her crime.
  • Nora, of course, would never allow him to sacrifice himself, and was prepared to commit suicide to stop it.
  • He tells her that no man would willingly sacrifice his honor like that.
  • She claims that millions of women have sacrificed their honor for men.
  • Nora tells him that, after tonight, he is like a stranger to her.
  • Torvald realizes just how distant they have become.
  • He begs her to stay.
  • She refuses, returns her wedding ring to him, and asks for the one he's wearing. He gives it to her reluctantly.
  • Nora tells him that she'd only come back if the most wonderful thing of all were to happen: that instead of just living together they had a true marriage.
  • She exits.
  • Torvald laments the emptiness of the room.
  • Hope flares up in him. "The most wonderful thing all" he exclaims (3.376).
  • We hear the sound of a door slamming shut.

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