A Doll's House Act 2
Nora nervously sits alone on Christmas Day, holding onto her cloak, with her casual clothes on the couch. She nervously speaks to herself, hoping that nothing bad would happen, that people do not come to the party to ruin it (and her perfect life), and thinks of her children. She speaks with the nurse - Nanny - about her own life. Nora asks Nanny how she could leave her own children to come and raise her years ago. Nanny responds that raising Nora was such a wonderful opportunity for a poor girl and that she still keeps in touch with her own daughter. Nora nervously tells Nanny that if she were not around, she would want her to raise her three children. Nanny blows off such conversation as silly when the doorbell rings and Mrs. Linde arrives.
Kristina has come to see Nora immediately after hearing of her calls. Nora desperately needs help sewing a dress she needs for the following evening. Their upstairs neighbors are throwing a fancy holiday party and Torvald wants Nora to dance to Tarantella (that she learned in Italy) for the guests at the party. The dress is in shambles and she needs Kristina's help putting it back together. Kristina immediately helps Nora, but also questions her about Dr. Rank. Kristina wonders if he is sincere of all his comments and normally as depressed and somber as he was the day before. Nora informs her friend that he was especially upset yesterday because of his painful consumption of the spine. Nora also responds to Kristina's inquiry about their friendship by telling her that he is best of friends with Torvald and herself, and visits the house daily. Nora talks to him about Kristina because Torvald is terribly jealous and cannot bear to hear about any other people with whom Nora associates - man or woman. Kristina believes that Dr. Rank, with his money and solitary lifestyle, may be the person from whom Nora borrowed the money. She lectures Nora on the norms of society. "Look, Nora, in lots of things, you're still a child. I'm older than you in many ways and I've had a little more experience" Act 2, pg. 184. Nora explains everything to Kristina and is in shock that her friend notices that she is holding something back. Kristina can tell that something happened to her after she left earlier and wants to know everything. However, as soon as Nora is about to tell her about Krogstad, Torvald walks into the living room.
Nora sends Kristina away, for Torvald hates seeing women making dresses and sewing. Torvald and Nora play a game of teasing, flirtation, and pleading for money.
"'If your squirrel were to ask you very prettily for something...'
'Your squirrel will scamper about and do all her tricks, if you'll be nice and do what she asks...'
'Your skylark'll sing all over the house - up and down the scale...'
'I'll be a fairy and dance on a moonbeam for you...'" Act 2, pg. 187
Nora begs Torvald to reconsider Krogstad and allow him to stay on in the bank. When Torvald explains that Krogstad is immoral, is to be replaced with her friend, Mrs. Linde, and is an old schoolmate of his, with whom he is annoyed, Nora calls him petty. She cannot believe that he will fire this man because he calls him by his first name at work. Torvald explodes at such conversation and will not allow himself to be influenced by a woman - let alone his own wife. This information could and should never get out into the business world. In response, Torvald goes to his study and calls the porter to mail a letter. The letter is a notice to Krogstad relieving him of his duties at the bank. Nora is terrified by such an action, pleading to her husband, showing her love to him by doing so. Torvald holds her and forgives her of her nonsense worrying.
"Are you happy now? There - there - there - don't look like a frightened little dove - the whole thing's just sheer imagination. Now, you must rehearse your tarantella - with the tambourine. I'll go sit in the inner room and shut the doors, so you can make all the noise you like - I shan't hear a thing." Act 2, pg. 190
He goes into his study to await Dr. Rank. When Dr. Rank arrives, he sits and talks with Nora about his depreciation and disease-ridden body. He believes himself to be his most ill patient and one near-death. Nora cannot bear to listen to such horrible words and tells him how dear he is to her and Torvald. He is their best friend. Dr. Rank believes he is already being replaced by Mrs. Linde, who is in the next room mending Nora's dress. Dr. Rank thinks that once people are dead, the living easily move on to make new friends. He wishes he could leave them something - a token of his friendship - that would show them how much he loves them and cares about them. Nora hesitates to ask him for the large sum of money she needs to repay her debt to Krogstad. As she begins, Dr. Rank erupts with his feeling towards Nora. He tells her that Torvald is not the only person who would gladly give his life for her. "I promised myself that I'd tell you before I went away, and I could never have a better opportunity. Well, Nora, now you know. And you know, too, that you can trust me - more than anyone else" Act 2, pg. 194.
Nora is shocked, hurt, and appalled by Dr. Rank for telling her of his feelings. Now, she claims, she cannot ask him for help, nor can things be the same. She tells him that he must continue to come and visit them, for Torvald's (and her own) sake, as if nothing has changed. Dr. Rank is confused by Nora's actions, for she had always seemed thrilled to see him, and he wondered that she could be with him just as easy as with Torvald. Nora tries to explain how one can be with someone for certain reasons and that being with Torvald is almost as if she was with her father - gaining his love and respect.
The maid enters with a note for Nora. She tells Dr. Rank that it is about a new dress, and that he must go into the study to see Torvald. When he leaves, Nora is terrified of what will occur in the next few moments when Krogstad enters in traveling clothes. He informs Nora that he has been let go by the bank. Nora desperately tries to stop Krogstad from ruining her life and Torvald's reputation, telling him that somehow she will get him the money. He claims that now he wants more than just the money. He wants his reputation and professional standing back. He wants to be the manager's right-hand man at the bank, and soon run it - instead of Torvald Helmer. After being honest and trustworthy for nearly eighteen months, he cannot believe that he has been thrown back down in the gutter, and plans to bring the Helmer family down with him. Nora begs him not to do so, for he will never get away with it, but he does not listen to her.
"Yes, now you've been warned, so don't do anything stupid. I shall expect to hear from Helmer as soon as he gets my letter. And remember, it's your husband who's forced me to do this sort of thing again. I shall never forgive him for that." Act 2, pg. 200
As he leaves the house, he drops the letter into the mailbox explaining everything to Torvald. Nora is frantic, realizing that her future and her life as she knows it is now destroyed.
Nora and Kristina discuss what has just occurred. Nora tells her it is Krogstad from whom she borrowed the money, and he has just dropped a letter in the locked mailbox telling Torvald all that has happened. Kristina believes she can convince him to retract the letter, and runs to his house to discuss it with him. In the meantime, Nora must keep her husband away from the mailbox. She does so by asking him to help her rehearse the dance - the tarantella - that she must perform the following evening. She makes him promise to ignore all paperwork and letters and focus only on her and her dresses until the following evening at midnight (when the party is over). She believes that Krogstad will have requested the letter be returned by then and all will be over - it will be a miracle.
While Nora waits for Kristina to return with good news of her conversation with Krogstad, she rehearses the dance with Torvald. He tells her how she is dancing incorrectly, but she continues to dance with fervor, wildness, and passion. He tells her, "Nora, darling, you're dancing as if your life depended on it!" Act 2, pg. 204