Act II: Riowena and Chris(and supposably Robert...)

Act II from A Doll’s House takes place after Nils Krogstad informs Nora Helmer that he has found out about her forgery crime to procure a loan for her husband’s medical treatment. Anxious about letting Krogstad ruin her relationship with Torvald Helmer, Nora’s husband, she nearly confesses her crime to her friend Mrs. Linde, and begs Torvald to return Krogstad his job, which galvanized him to immediately fire Krogstad. Nora converses with her closest friend Dr. Rank, culminating in his confession of love for her. Finally Krogstad appears a second time to warn Nora after receiving his notice, leaving behind a letter in Helmer’s locked mailbox for him to read, driving Nora into a panic. Through the different interactions of Nora with Mrs. Linde, Torvald, and Dr. Rank respectively, the relationships between Nora and each character is revealed, bringing to light in turn the different features of each character’s personalities.

Act II continues to illustrate the relationship between Helmer Torvald and Nora to be that of a child playing a doll. Torvald continues to describe Nora as a “little squirrel”, “lark singing high and low”, and “wood nymph” (85). The motif of the various names Torvald calls his wife demonstrates the condescending attitude he has towards her, and only sees her as a source of entertainment, not to be taken seriously. Because of Torvald’s high sense of personal pride, and childish attitude around Nora, it causes him to be blinded of the reality that Nora is hiding the forgery incident from him. In order to distract him from finding the truth, Nora must pretend she has trouble with her dancing. In Torvald’s response, “you should run through your tarantella and practice your tambourine” (80) continues to reveal the patronizing tone he has towards her, like a puppeteer controlling a puppet and completely oblivious of the fact that his wife is acting out of the ordinary. Torvald takes great pride in being the man in the house and claims, “I have strength and courage enough as a man to take on the whole weight myself” (79). Ironically, Torvald contradicts himself towards the end of the play and places the blame of the crime to be entirely on Nora’s shoulders. Torvald is demonstrated to be arrogant, and condescending towards his wife. He believes he is living in a perfect world, shown through his interactions with his wife. He thinks he can solve anything, but the truth is he can't handle reality.

Through the interaction between Dr. Rank and Nora, Nora’s flirtatious nature is exemplified, and a more somber, regretful Dr. Rank is revealed, contrary to the bright, cheery nature he exposes when he interacts with his friend of many years, Torvald. Dr. Rank and Nora’s relationship is depicted as intimate, with the two confiding in each other in the absence of Torvald. Nora declares to Mrs. Linde that “with Dr. Rank I talk about such things becuse he likes hearing about them” (p.75). Nora is able to be herself around Dr. Rank, telling him about her ideas and secrets without Torvald being able to restrict her as he does on a daily basis. However, her flirtatious, warm behavior allows Dr. Rank to misunderstand when he talks with her, saying things such as “For you, I always have time to spare - you know that”(p.80). Although the act takes place in only a short period of days, it is implied that Dr. Rank has spent ample time in the presence of Nora, which has allowed him to nurture a fond affection for her. Similarly, he is able to confide his greatest fears in the face of his terminal illness solely to Nora without putting up his calm facade. He reveals a saturnine side to his personality as he mourns to Nora that “those who go away are soon forgotten”(p.82) and that when he dies, he will be unable to “leave some poor show of gratitude more than a vacant space that anyone can fill” (p. 83). In this way, Dr. Rank is depicted as being morose and regretful, as he hints that he knows how insignificant he is to the Helmer household - even in his death, as shown later in the play, he is unable to disturb the relationship between husband and wife. Nonetheless, he attempts to confess his love to Nora, who physically moves away from him to sit on the rocker and called for a light to be brought into the darkened room, thus literally “throwing” his dire secret into the light (p.84). His love is unrequited, and Nora underlines the fact that he is only “[her] best and truest friend” (p. 83). Dr. Rank’s reaction is to mourn the fact that he had misunderstood her frivolity and intimacy with him, “[feeling] so many times [she’d] rather be with [him] than with Helmer” (p. 84). Indirectly he accuses Nora of letting him on, enchanting him with her spirit yet revealing that she only desires a platonic relationship with him. This moody side of Dr. Rank is unseen anywhere else in the play, as he struggles to maintain a facade in front of Torvald despite suffering from his illness and unrequited love.