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The play begins on Christmas Eve. Nora Torvald enters the living room carrying packages. Torvald Helmer, her husband, enters. He says that she shouldn’t have spent so much on Christmas gifts. He says that they have to be careful with money for now, but that he got a promotion at the bank that will increase their quality of life.
Helene, their maid, says that Dr. Rank has come to visit. Also, Nora’s school friend, Kristine Linde, comes. The two have not seen each other in years. Nora tells Linde about her life. She says that Torvald had heath problems earlier in the marriage, and they had to go to Italy so he could recover.
Mrs. Linde tells Nora that her husband died, leaving her with no money and no children. She wants Torvald to get her a job. Nora says she will speak to Torvald, and tells her that she illegally borrowed the money to pay for the trip to Italy. For years, she worked and saved in secret to repay the debt. Soon it will be fully repaid.
Krogstad, an employee at the bank, and Dr. Rank arrive. Rank says that Krogstad is “morally sick”. Nora is unnerved by Krogstad’s presence. Torvald says that he can probably get Mrs. Linde a job at the bank. Rank, Torvald, and Linde depart. The children arrive with Anne-Marie, their nanny. Nora plays with the children until she notices Krogstad. He is revealed to be the source of the illegal loan.
He says that Torvald wants to fire him. He asks Nora to try to talk Torvald out of it. Krogstad says that he will tell about the loan if he gets fired. Nora tries to get Torvald not to fire him, but he says Krogstad is immoral.
On Christmas, Nora is nervous. Nora again begs Torvald not to fire Krogstad. He refuses. Torvald sends the maid to deliver Krogstad’s letter of dismissal.
Rank arrives and tells Nora he is dying. She flirts with him. He says he is in love with her.
Krogstad demands an explanation for his being fired. He tells Nora that she must get him rehired to a higher position. He puts a letter in Torvald’s letterbox detailing the illegal loan. (Nora forged her father’s signature to get it.) Nora tells Mrs. Linde everything. Mrs. Linde says to distract Torvald from the letterbox until she talks to Krogstad.
Krogstad and Mrs.
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Torvald reads Krogstad’s letter. He calls Nora a liar and a hypocrite. He says that she will not be allowed to raise their children. The maid comes with a letter from Krogstad containing the contract with the forged signature. Torvald tries to retract his harsh words, but it is too late. Nora says she has been treated like a doll. She leaves Torvald.
This is a play about the sacrificial role of women. Nora sacrificed her integrity to save Torvald. Mrs. Linde sacrificed her true love to marry a rich man. Anne-Marie had to abandon her child to be a nanny. When Torvald learns of his wife’s sacrifice, he is ungrateful.