Married couple, Nora and Torvald Helmer seem to live a happy life. Although Torvald is demeaning in the way he talks to Nora, she seems unbothered by it and carries on her life as a house wife. The couple is overjoyed when Torvald, a banker, receives a promotion to manager. While celebrating, Nora’s old friend Christine Linde arrives, a widow in need of a job. While discussing with Christine, Nora confesses her secret debt. Although Nora does not divulge where the money came from, she does tell Christine the reason why she needed it. Torvald’s new job provides Nora a sense of security because now money will not be a major concern for the family.
Krogstad arrives at the Helmer’s house to talk to Torvald. He works at the same bank as Torvald, but it seems as though Nora knows him as well. Christine also knew Krogstad in the past. Dr. Rank, a family friend dying of tuberculosis, expresses his own concerns about Krogstad and the peculiarity of the man. After Torvald and Krogstad have their meeting, Nora asks Torvald to consider giving Christine a job at the bank, he agrees.
Nora’s children then enter the scene. Having been with their caretaker all day, the children want to play games with Nora. After playtime, Krogstad returns to talk with Nora, fearful that he may lose his job. Here, the reader discovers that Nora’s benefactor was Krogstad as well as the fact that Nora forged her late father’s signature on the loan. Nora’s dishonesty begins to bother her and worries she will negatively affect her children. Nora’s fear leads her to consider leaving her children; she even asks a family maid to take care of her children if need be.
Nora begins to prepare for a tarantella that she and Torvald will be attending. Dr. Rank arrives and Nora flirts with him in hopes of getting money from him in order to pay back the loan.
Her plan is foiled when he confesses his love for her, because Nora cannot take money from a man knowing he loves her. Krogstad returns again, angry about being fired, and begins to blackmail Nora. Krogstad wants Torvald’s job and knows he can get it by exposing Nora, so he puts a letter explaining Nora’s debt and how she got it in Torvald’s mailbox. Nora begins to worry and turns to Christine for help. The women decide to try to distract Torvald and Christine will try to convince Krogstad to take back his letter.
While Nora and Torvald are at the tarantella Christine and Krogstad meet to talk about the letter. Here, the reader is made aware that Christine and Krogstad had a previous romantic relationship and plan to rekindle it. Krogstad plans on revoking the letter and not allowing Torvald to read it but Christine thinks it is best for Torvald to know the truth. Shortly after Torvald and Nora return from the party, Dr. Rank interrupts Torvald flirting with Nora to say goodnight. Then Torvald moves over to the mailbox and sees that Dr. Rank had left a letter with a black cross on it, stating that he will die soon. Torvald also sees a letter from Krogstad that Nora tells him to read right away.
Torvald is extremely upset after reading the letter and is disgusted with Nora. Nora is struggling and plans on killing herself because she cannot handle the pain and anger. Torvald is so upset and disgusted with Nora that, going forward, he wants nothing more than a brother and sister relationship between them and wants her kept away from their children. Then, Torvald is delivered another letter in which Nora’s bank contract is returned. Torvald is elated and tries to make Nora forget the harsh things he said to her; he wants to live together happily, as husband and wife. Nora is hurt and upset and wants to have a deep conversation with Torvald.
Nora expresses how she feels and that Torvald treats her as a doll. Torvald is not very accepting of this conversation which leads Nora to decide to leave her house and family. She gathers her things, leaves her children, and walks out of her house, slamming the door behind her.
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