Synopsis and Summary of Acts – A Doll’s House Study Guide
A Doll’s House traces the awakening of Nora Helmer from her previously unexamined life of domestic,wifely comfort. Having been ruled her whole life by either her father or her husband Torvald, Nora finally comes to question the foundation of everything she has believed in once her marriage is put to the test. Having borrowed money from a man of ill-repute named Krogstad by forging her father’s signature, she was able to pay for a trip to Italy to save her sick husband’s life (he was unaware of the loan, believing that the money came from Nora’s father).
Since then, she has had to contrive ways to pay back her loan, growing particularly concerned with money and the ways of a complex world. When the play opens, it is Christmas Eve, and we find that Torvald has just been promoted to manager of the bank, where he will receive a huge wage and be extremely powerful.
Nora is thrilled because she thinks that she will finally be able to pay off the loan and be rid of it. Her happiness, however, is marred when an angry Krogstad approaches her.
He has just learned that his position at the bank has been promised to Mrs. Linde, an old school friend of Nora’s who has recently arrived in town in search of work, and he tells Nora that he will reveal her secret if she does not persuade her husband to let him keep his position.
Nora tries to convince Torvald to preserve Krogstad’s job, using all of her feminine tricks (which he encourages), but she is unsuccessful. Torvald tells her that Krogstad’s morally corrupt nature is physically repulsive to him and impossible to work with. Nora becomes very worried. The next day, Nora is nervously moving about the house, afraid that Krogstad will appear at any minute.
Her anxiety is reduced by being preoccupied with the preparations for a big fancy-dress party that will take place the next night in a neighbor’s apartment. When Torvald returns from the bank, she again takes up her pleas on behalf of Krogstad.
This time, Torvald not only refuses but also sends off the notice of termination that he has already prepared for Krogstad, reassuring a scared Nora that he will take upon himself any bad things that befall them as a result. Nora is extremely moved by this comment.
She begins to consider the possibility of this episode transforming their marriage for the better—as well as the possibility of suicide.