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Act 3, Part 2

They are interrupted by a knock. It is Doctor Rank. He has had a little too much champagne at the party. In a veiled conversation with Nora, he gives her to understand that his death is now certain. Nora hints that hers is not far off. Failing to catch the hint, Doctor Rank takes his leave.

Helmer takes out his keys and heads for the letterbox. He discovers that someone has tried to open it with a hairpin¾one of Nora's. She blames the children. Helmer empties the box and brings in the stack of letters. On top are two cards from Doctor Rank, each with a black cross over the name. They are the cards announcing his death; he had put them in the box on his way out. Nora explains to Helmer that the cards mean that he will now shut himself up to die. They ponder the loss of their best friend a moment. Helmer says, "We two are thrown quite upon each other now ... Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life's blood and everything for your sake." At this, Nora disengages herself and says decidedly, "You must read your letters." She hangs on his neck, crying, "Good night, Torvald ¾good night!" He says good night to his "little singing bird" and goes to read his letters.

Alone and waiting, Nora becomes highly agitated. She gropes about and says ("in quick, hoarse, spasmodic whispers"): "Never to see him again. Never! Never!" She puts a shawl over her head. "Never to see my children again either¾never again. ... Ah! The icy black water¾the unfathomable depths¾if only it were over!" She starts to run out, but Helmer appears in the doorway, the open letter in his hand. "What is this?" he demands. "Do you know what is in this letter?" "Yes, I know," she cries. "Let me go! Let me get out!" He holds her; she struggles to get free, saying he shall not save her. Helmer asks if what the letter says is true. "It is true," Nora says. "I have loved you above everything else in the world." Helmer snaps, "Oh, don't let us have any silly excuses." Nora is taken aback by this. Helmer continues, "Miserable creature¾what have you done?" Nora pleads with him to let her go, promises that he will not suffer for her sake. Helmer's response: "No tragedy airs, please." He locks the door. "Here you shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you have done?"

Suddenly, a change seems to come over Nora. She "looks steadily at him ... with a growing look of coldness in her face." She answers, "Yes, now I am beginning to understand thoroughly."

Helmer paces around the room angrily. He has not noticed the change in her. He continues ranting: "What a horrible awakening! All these eight years¾she who was my joy and pride¾a hypocrite, a liar¾worse, worse¾a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it all! For shame! For shame!" Throughout this, Nora remains silent, looking steadily at him. He says that, like her father, she has no religion, morality, or sense of duty. She has destroyed all his happiness, put him in the power of an unscrupulous man who can now do whatever he likes with him¾all "because of a thoughtless woman!"

Nora remains calm and cold. "When I am out of the way you will be free," she says. Helmer snaps, "No fine speeches, please." He says it would do him no good to have her out of the way; people will still think he was party to her criminal action. "Do you understand now what it is you have done for me?" Nora replies (coldly and quietly): "Yes." Utterly unaware of her dark irony, Helmer begins plotting how the matter can be "hushed up." They must appease Krogstad, first. And as for their marriage, he says, everything must appear normal in the eyes of the world, but "I will not allow you to bring up the children," and neither can he love her as he once did. "From this moment, happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments, the appearance...."

Throughout this speech, Nora has stood motionless. The door-bell rings; Helmer jumps, tells her to hide herself, but she does not budge.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Act 1, Part 1
Act 1, Part 2
Act 2, Part 1
Act 2, Part 2
Act 3, Part 1
Act 3, Part 2
Act 3, Part 3


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