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Examine the passage in Act 2 where Dr. Rank confesses his love for Nora in this act.  What purpose(s) does this scene serve in the play? What literary aspects such as characterization, action, setting, themes; literary features; and dramatic techniques support the purpose(s)?

I am going to begin by giving a brief description on Henrik Ibsen, the author of the play A Doll’s House. Ibsen was born in Norway in 1828, and passed away 78 years later in the current capital of Norway, Oslo. In 1868, he moved to Germany where he wrote A doll’s house, which is considered to be one of his most famous plays. He was viewed as “the father of realism”, who’s plays, especially A Doll’s House, created an enormous impact globally on what was considered the social norm since his plays were controversial, and made people question society.

A Doll’s House was originally written in Danish-Norwegian and was first translated to English in 1889. It was first performed at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in 1879 in Denmark. The play is set in 1879 in the Helmer’s home located in Norway, so the characters and relationships would all appear familiar like a reflection to the audience watching in the theatre. Ibsen intended his play to challenge the audience’s assumptions about social structure, particularly social structures associated with marriage and family life. The title of the play comes from the fact that the main character Nora was looked at by her husband Torvald as a “doll”, and her life was contained to living a fantasy world in one house controlled by her husband.

In Act 1 Nora is content and happy with life but by act 3 Nora leaves it all behind her. This is why act 2 serves as a major turning point for the plot of the play. Act 2 is when Nora’s true problems begin to be evident. The ‘Doll House’ begins to switch from the fantasy world as it seems to be in Act 1 to reality where life is not so perfect by Act 2. Furthermore, for a little bit of context Dr. Rank enters for his daily visit after Nora had just finished attempting to convince her husband, Torvald to not fire one of his workers Krogstad, who Nora illegally took a loan from. Torvald finishes their conversation by sending a letter with Krogstads notice of being let off. Nora is now stressed as Krogstad said that if Nora could not get Torvald to let him keep his job then he would tell her husband about the forging of her fathers signature. Nora does not want Torvald to know, so she needs to figure out a solution. Dr. Rank enters the house after Torvald closes himself in his study. 

In the play, A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen has Dr. Rank confesses his love to Nora in Act two to end her idea of life being a fantasy, and to put into perspective her feelings for the people close to her; through the use of multiple literary aspects Ibsen supports this purpose. 

Main points:
Dr. Rank realizes that he will soon pass away from the disease in his back, so this brings out the side of him which is Nervous and serious. The knowing of his death coming soon may be the reason he confesses his love to Nora. When Dr. Rank first enters Nora is both nervous and flirty when she is speaking to him because she wants to ask him for a favour to help her pay off the loan that she took out.  She is going against society by flirting, showing the side of her that can be a rebel and not just an innocent doll. As Nora was about to ask for a favour from Dr. Rank he confesseS his love to her. This made her extremely uncomfortable. One reason is because she cares about Dr. Rank, and because she enjoys spending time with him and feels comfortable talking to him about stuff she can’t talk to her husband, Torvald about. It also makes her uncomfortable and angry because she was about to ask him for money to pay off the loan that she took out to save her husband, and she now feels that she can not ask him for that anymore. Nora questions whether she has ever truly felt real love. The fact that Dr. Rank is dying also makes Nora feel uneasy when he confesses his love. The final reason Nora feels unnerved by Dr. Rank’s confession of his love is because it imbalances her entire idea of her perfect fantasy life and family. This makes her feel as if her “doll house” has been intruded. This all brings out a side to Nora which is not as cheerful as she is throughout the entire first act. She is also not as innocent, as shown as when Dr. Rank questioned if she knew of his love for her on page 49, “Mrs Helmer… I’m asking if you knew?” And her response was “How can I tell wether I did or didn’t. I simply can’t tell you.” showing that she was aware before Dr. Rank told her, so she was flirting with a man she knew was in love with her simply to use him. Nora begins to have a voice of her own and choose what she does and does not want, but she still does not want her fantasy life to be ruined yet by Dr. Rank. 

When Dr. Rank is talking about his near death he says to Nora on page 45, “Only what I have long expected. But I didn’t think it would come quite so soon” (45)  after this is said she latches onto his arm as if saying that she couldn’t let go of him if he left, giving him the impression that she is in love with him and not in love with Torvald. 

Once Dr. Rank tells Nora he is in love with her Nora stands up and calmly insists, “let me past.” Her getting up and walking past is like Nora walking back into the fantasy world that Dr. Rank just spoiled. This ruined her idea of her fantasy world, because in her fantasy it would only ever be Torvald that says that he loves her not Dr. Rank. She is also frustrated now because taking the money from Dr. Rank would not be considered from a friend anymore since he said to her that he loved her. Dr. Rank still begs to help with the favour though as said on page 49, “I beg you tell me what it is.”, but Nora won’t let him help her as she wants Trovold to rush in and offer the money to make everything ok and be the man to save her as she knows Dr. Rank would if she asked him the favour. She distances herself on a separate rocking chair from Dr. Rank, showing now that he has ruined their relationship, and she can’t ask him anymore or flirt with him anymore. 

The theme of moral corruption being spread is supported by Dr. Rank’s tuberculosis of the spine being inherited from his father who he says broke many morals by sleeping with many mistresses. Moreover Nora felt that she had become morally corrupt as she forged her fathers signature and was concerned that she would pass her moral corruption on to her children as Rank was “diseased” by his father. As Dr. Rank is entering, the scene becomes dark as their deep conversation becomes morally questionable with all of the flirting going on, then the room becomes so dark that Nora has to leave to ask for a lamp. Nora and Dr. Rank’s conversation shows the moral corruption being passed on from character to another and the two of them are influencing and guiding each other to be amoral. 

Theme of Appearance vs. Reality 
There is a theme of appearance vs. Reality. Appearance is Nora’s love for her husband, and the reality even though Nora would never accept it is her love for Dr. Rank. Dr. Rank tells Nora he loves her, and this changes their relationship and it is unknown how she feels. She seems to enjoy the attention and love. This puts in perspective how Nora’s relationship with her husband is changing, and how she does not talk personally to her husband, yet she does with Dr. Rank showing how she is comfortable with him. However Nora still wants Torvald to be the one that says that he loves her, and for him to be the one that she feels comfortable having a serious conversation with as he is the one she is married to.

The setting is dark in the living room of the Helmer’s, and the doors of the room are all closed while Nora and Dr. Rank are talking, so nobody is watching them as they are flirting. Throughout their conversation they end up right beside each other on the couch by the time Dr. Rank confesses his love. The closer Nora and Dr. Rank get to each other the more intense the feelings, and the darker the lighting gets. As they become physically closer the closer Dr. Rank is closer to telling Nora that he is in love with her and the closer he is to ruining her idea of a fantasy world.

literary features
The light is a metaphor for Nora’s fake or fantasy world that she is living in.  Light in A Doll’s House is also used to emphasize Nora’s decisions. As Nora is flirting with Dr. Rank to warm him up before asking for him to pay out her loans the light grows dark showing to create a sinister mood. When Dr. Rank tells Nora that he loves her Nora gets up immediately and demands Helen to bring a lamp into the room, showing how Nora is now aware that she was doing something wrong, and with the lights on it is as if she is going right back into her fantasy world that Dr. Rank had just taken her out of and put her into reality, which Nora is not ready to be in.

Tone: Page 49 – the tone of the scene changes after Dr. rank tells Nora he has strong feelings for her. The tone goes from being chipper and light to harsh and tense with one sentence said from Dr. Rank.

symbol:  Nora shows Dr. Rank her stockings and this is a symbol for her rebellion against the social expectations at the time because nobody other than the husband was suppose to see above the ankle of a woman’s stocking, but she said “No, no, no, you can only look at the feet. Oh well, you might as well see a bit higher up to.” (47)  This is also Foreshadowing to chapter 3 when Nora goes against the social norms and leaves her children with her husband, which women were not expected to do during this period of time as it was going against the expectations of a wife and a mother. 

Foreshadowing: Nora speaks to Dr. Rank about what happens after someone leaves. (he is talking about death but she is talking about her leaving her family) They talk about whether after departure people are forgotten and replace or remembered and never forgotten. On Pg 46 Dr. Rank says, “You wouldn’t miss me for long. When you are gone you are soon forgotten.” This is foreshadowing when Nora is going to leave her family and fantasy world behind to find herself and become something other than a doll in a house controlled by her husband. 

Nora is going to ask Dr. Rank for money and she begins by telling him that “Torvald loves her very much” (48) but she doesn’t say anything about her love for him. This foreshadows her revealing that she doesn’t love Torvald anymore. As well Nora begins to stray away from her duties as a mother and as a wife as she is flirting with Dr. Rank, and this is foreshadowing to when she leaves her husband and kids again. 

It is also evident that she is in love with Dr. Rank and not Torvald when she says on page 47, “you’ll see tomorrow how nicely I can dance. And you can pretend I’m doing it just for you – and Torvald as well, of course.” This shows how she thinks of Dr. Rank before she thinks of Torvald, exposing her love. 

dramatic techniques:
Earlier in the play on page 38 Nora and Mrs. Linde are speaking about Dr. Rank and how he visits often and mrs. Linde asks if he visit every day and Nora responds “Every single day. He was Torvald’s best friend as a boy, and he’s a good friend of mine, too.” The “mine” being in italics shows that the actress playing Nora is meant to say it in a way that suggests he is somebody special to her, and that she potentially has romantic feeling for him. Mrs. Linde suggests that he likes her, but Nora denies it, but how she says “mine” shows that she is most likely already aware of the love Dr. Rank has for her. 

In conclusion the passage when Dr. Rank confesses his love for Nora in the play A Doll’s House draws attention to how she is unhappy in her life, no matter how hard she tries to convince herself her life is a fantasy. The passage of Dr. Rank confessing his love to Nora serves the purpose of making Nora think about not only her love for Torvald and how she feels about her marriage with him, but also her relationships with all of the people surrounding her in her life. This scene truly begins to push Nora away from her life in the house as a “doll” controlled by Torvald to be a strong woman who has a voice of her own, giving the audience an idea that she is going to completely separate herself by the end of the play.