The play opens on Christmas Eve as Nora Helmer enters her home carrying packages. A porter delivers a Christmas tree, and her husband Torvald greets her. Nora proudly displays Christmas gifts for their children, and although Torvald playfully scolds her for spending, he affectionately calls her his "little skylark" and "little squirrel." Amid their celebration, they rejoice in Torvald's recent promotion to Bank Manager.
Later, Mrs. Linde and Dr. Rank arrive. Torvald and Dr. Rank converse in private. Mrs. Linde, a long-lost friend, confides in Nora about her struggles as a widow seeking employment. Nora promises to help her secure a job. Nora then reveals a hidden truth: she secretly borrowed money to save Torvald's life during their early marriage. She has been repayingDefinition: Repaying refers to the act of returning borrowed money or fulfilling a financial obligation.
Go To Literary Terms Dictionary the debt secretly.
On Christmas Day, Act Two begins. Nora, alone, contemplates her fate. Mrs. Linde arrives to help Nora with her dress for an upcoming ball. Nora plans to dress as an Italian fisher girl and perform the tarantella. Torvald enters, and Nora pleads with him to spare Krogstad's job at the bank. Despite her efforts, Torvald decides to terminate Krogstad's employment immediately.
Dr. Rank, a close friend of the Helmers, arrives and discusses his impending death with Nora. He leaves, and Torvald discovers Dr. Rank's visiting cards indicating his approaching demise. Nora says goodnight and prepares to escape. Torvald stops her upon discovering Krogstad's letter, which threatens to expose Nora's secret. Torvald blames her for endangering their reputation and happiness.
In Act Three, Krogstad visits Mrs. Linde at the Helmers' house during a ball. They discuss their past love and consider rekindling their relationship now that they are both widowed. Krogstad agrees, offering to return his letter to Torvald. However, Mrs. Linde believes the truth must be revealed.
Nora and Torvald return from the ball. Mrs. Linde encourages Nora to confessDefinition: Confessing refers to openly admitting or acknowledging a truth, often a hidden or secret one.
Go To Literary Terms Dictionary, and then she leaves. Torvald expresses his desire for Nora, but she resists. Nora reveals Krogstad's letter to Torvald, who is initially furious but then relieved to discover that Krogstad has changed his mind about exposing Nora's secret.
Nora, however, realizes the extent of her husband's selfishness and her own lack of identity within their marriage. She decides to leave Torvald and pursue her own self-discoveryDefinition: Self-discovery refers to the process of exploring and understanding one's true identity, values, and desires.
Go To Literary Terms Dictionary, despite his pleas for her to stay. The play concludes with Nora leaving, slamming the front door behind her.