In Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, how can we interpret Dr. Rank's lines?  I was determined you should know it before I went away, and there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now...

In Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, how can we interpret Dr. Rank's lines?

 

I was determined you should know it before I went away, and there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know it, Nora. And you know, too, that you can trust me as you would trust no one else (Act II).

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Rank: I was determined you should know it before I went away, and there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know it, Nora. And now you know, too, that you can trust me as you would trust no one else (Act II).

In Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, this short speech of Dr. Rank's to Nora demonstrates that Dr. Rank has always been in love with Nora and that he expects that he will soon die. This is evident from Dr. Rank's line that states "I was determined you should know it before I went away." This line, though subtle, refers to two things:

First, in the lines during Nora and Dr. Rank's exchange preceding this passage, Dr. Rank confesses to Nora that he is in love with her. He confesses his love for Nora when he tells her that her husband is not the only man "who would gladly give his life for" her "sake." In saying this, he is comparing his feelings to that of her husband's and delcarring that he is in love with her. Nora is about to ask Dr. Rank for a favor, she may be intending to ask him to cover the remainder of her debt so that she can get the forged bond back, preventing her husband from ever learning about the forgery from Krogstad. Nora becomes disheartened when Dr. Rank makes his declaration. In reply, Nora asks him sadly "Is that it?" Nora is sad because she does not want his life from him, she wants money. She is also distressed to learn that Dr. Rank has been in love with her all this time, a married woman.

Secondly, Dr. Rank's phrase "before I went away" refers to his approaching death. He asserts that there is no better time to tell her of his feelings for her because soon he will die. In Act I, Nora tells Mrs. Linde that Dr. Rank has inherited some sort of consumption of the spine. In Act II, in this same scene, Dr. Rank informs Nora that he has examined himself and knows that he is about to die. This is evident from earlier lines in this scene in which he tells Nora that "It is all up with me. And it can't be helped" and "Probably within a month I shall lie rotting in the churchyard." Therefore, Dr. Rank is determined to tell Nora his feelings for her before he dies.

Finally, in these lines, Dr. Rank begs Nora to trust him as she "would trust no one else." Dr. Rank is stating that because he is in love with her, and would lay down his life for her, she can trust him as her dearest companion with troubles, favors, or advice.

All in all, this passage shows us how much Dr. Rank cares for Nora and that he believes he will soon be dying.

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