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Dr. Rank's purpose is to show the contrast to Torvald's treatment of Nora. Both men love Nora, although Dr. Rank does not try to make this public. Nora has great affection for Dr. Rank, but does not feel the same way that he does. The difference is that Dr. Rank illustrates all the characteristics that a loving partner should exhibit.
Dr. Rank listens when Nora talks, as Torvald does not. He also treats her with respect and dignity, which is a sharp contrast to the chiding and condescending attitude that Torvald frequently uses when speaking with his wife. Dr. Rank does not act as if women are inferior, as Torvald is guilty of doing.
The truly pitiful aspect, however, is that Dr. Rank will never be able to engage in an equal and loving relationship because he is dying, and he never had any chance of a relationship with Nora.
Dr. Rank is very important in A Dolls House. He was someone that Nora could have her fantasy's about. She didn't want to have an affair with him, but it was just the thought of doing something torvald wouldn't approve of that made her get these ideas.
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