A Doll's House Act III Summary and Analysis
by Henrik Ibsen

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Act III Summary and Analysis

As act III opens, Mrs. Linde reads a book in the Helmers’ apartment while they are at the party upstairs. Krogstad arrives to see her, having received the note she left for him. He reveals that he and Mrs. Linde were once romantically involved but that Mrs. Linde left him to marry her now deceased husband. Krogstad accuses Mrs. Linde of jilting him for money. Mrs. Linde explains that she was responsible for taking care of her family and that Krogstad could not have supported them all, given his financial circumstances. The two reconcile, having realized that life has treated them both poorly. Mrs. Linde offers to marry Krogstad, giving his children the mother they no longer have.

After Mrs. Linde and Krogstad reconcile, Krogstad offers to take back the letter he sent to Torvald about Nora’s loan. However, Mrs. Linde tells him to leave it be so that Nora can stop lying to Torvald. They both remark upon the good fortune of having been reunited. Krogstad then departs with the promise that he will send a second letter explaining that he no longer intends to blackmail the Helmers. Mrs. Linde stays behind and greets the returning Helmers. Mrs. Linde informs Nora that she must tell her husband everything, and Nora dejectedly resigns herself to “do what [she] must.”

After Mrs. Linde departs, Torvald makes amorous advances towards Nora, which she rebuffs. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Rank, who stops by on his way out of the party. Using coded language, Dr. Rank tells Nora that he is going to die soon. She tells him to “sleep well” and asks him to wish her the same. After Rank departs, Torvald checks the letter box. Upon seeing the card with the black cross on it, Nora tells Torvald that Rank is dying. Torvald laments the loss of his friend. He tells Nora that he has often wished she were in “some great danger” so that he might save her. He continues his amorous advances, only to be rebuffed again. He retires to his study to read his letters.

While Torvald reads, Nora hurriedly prepares to depart with the intention of ending her life. However, Torvald storms out of his office and confronts her before she leaves the house. Rather than behaving in the chivalrous manner that Nora expected him to, Torvald harshly berates Nora and reveals that he plans to accede to Krogstad’s demands rather than suffer the damage to his reputation. He tells Nora that she will remain in his house to maintain appearances but bars her from being near the children. His tirade is interrupted by the arrival of a second letter addressed to Nora, which Torvald takes and reads.

After learning that Krogstad no longer intends to blackmail him, Torvald is relieved and instantly offers Nora his forgiveness. He tells her that he feels like both a father and a husband to her, since he now has to teach her how to be more responsible. However, Nora is disillusioned with her husband after being upbraided for doing what she felt was necessary in order to save his life. She tells Torvald that she must leave him and learn how to be a more independent person. She asserts that both her father and Torvald have treated her like a subservient “doll.”

Torvald attempts to convince Nora to stay with him by citing the religious, moral, and social repercussions of her departure. Nora tells him that she no longer trusts her own knowledge of the world and that she cannot be a proper wife or mother until she has educated herself more thoroughly. She tells Torvald that the two of them never truly loved each other. Rather, they loved idealized conceptions of each other. Torvald eventually resorts to begging, asking Nora how he can convince her to stay. Nora sadly remarks that “the most wonderful thing of all” would have to happen. She walks out, shutting the door behind herself.

Analysis

Act III culminates in the dissolution of Nora’s illusions about her husband and her marriage. Rather than bravely facing the consequences of Nora’s actions, Torvald...

(The entire section is 1,045 words.)