Questions and Answers: Act II
1. What is the sickness from which Dr. Rank suffers?
2. Could Dr. Rank have helped Nora with the initial loan?
3. Why is Nora going to dance the tarantella in an outfit of a Neapolitan fisher girl at the ball the next evening?
4. Dr. Rank is dying. Why won’t he inform his friend Torvald of this fact directly?
1. Dr. Rank suffers from hereditary syphilis. This sexually transmitted disease can be passed form parent to child. In Ibsen’s era, it was incurable and would eventually result in death. Nora and Dr. Rank never mention syphilis directly; however, it is clear from the way they talk about Dr. Rank’s father that the hereditary condition is a result of the father consorting with various mistresses while in the army.
2. Dr. Rank could not have helped Nora with the initial loan because he did not have the money to give. Nevertheless, Nora recognizes that she has a certain power over Dr. Rank and that he would have done anything in his power to help.
3. Nora will dance the tarantella because her husband wants her to.
4. According to Dr. Rank, Torvald does not want to be confronted with ugly realities. This is a very important trait of Torvald’s. He seems to remain willfully oblivious to certain realities; although he accuses his wife of having no mind for finances, it is he who never manages to uncover exactly why they had sufficient funds for a trip to Italy. Dr. Rank realizes that Torvald does not confront ugly realities willingly and wants to spare his friend.
5. Krogstad and Mrs. Linde are old acquaintances. Based on their prior relationship, Mrs. Linde believes that she can influence Krogstad. In Act III, we will learn that Krogstad once courted Kristine. She ended the affair for practical reasons, and they both ended up in unhappy marriages.