A Doll’s House Summary

Key Info

  • Full Title: A Doll’s House 
  • Written: 1879
  • Published: Published and performed in 1879
  • Genre: Realist modern prose drama
  • Setting: A city in Norway 


  • Nora Helmer: Nora Helmer is the protagonist of the drama. She has been married to Torvald Helmer for eight years. She is a very carefree and jolly-minded woman. 
  • Torvald Helmer: Nora’s husband who has recently been promoted to a high position in a Bank. 
  • Krogstad: The antagonist of the drama. He knows about Nora’s secret and continuously blackmails her.
  • Mrs. Linde: Nora’s old school friend. 
  • Dr. Rank: A family friend of the Helmer family. 

Themes: Love and Marriage, Gender, Money and Work, Deceit.


A Doll’s House is a modern drama by the famous writer Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). It was first performed on stage in 1879. The main character of this drama is Nora Helmer. Through Nora, Ibsen portrays the women of that time trapped in family life and the courage to break out of it. The play is based on the life of Ibsen’s friend Laura.

Nora’s meeting with Mrs. Linde

At the beginning of the drama, Nora Helmer enters her luxurious living room with lots of gift packets. Nora’s husband Torvald Helmer hears Nora’s approach and comes out of the study room. Torvald welcomes Nora very nicely. But he also scolds her for spending so much money on Christmas gifts. Through their conversation, it is revealed that the Helmer family has been in financial trouble for the past few years. But Torvald’s recent promotion to a higher position in the bank allows them to live a luxurious life.

Their housemaid Helen comes and tells Dr. Rank has arrived. Dr. Rank is a family friend of Helmers. Meanwhile, to Nora’s surprise, her school friend Mrs. Linde arrives. They have not seen each other for many years. But Nora tells that she has heard of Mrs. Linde’s husband’s death. Mrs. Linde’s husband died a few years ago. He did not leave any money when he died. They didn’t even have any children. Nora also tells Mrs. Linde about her first year of marriage. Nora and Torvald were also very poor. Both worked very hard. Then Torvald fell ill and they had to go to Italy for treatment.

Nora’s Secret

Nora then learns something about Mrs. Lind. Mrs. Linde said that for several years she had to look after her ailing mother and two younger brothers. His mother is dead and his brothers are grown up now. His brothers no longer needed her. But in doing so she feels empty instead of relieved. Because she has nothing to do now. She comes to Nora thinking that it would be very beneficial for Torvald if he gives a job to Mrs. Lind at his bank. Nora promises to talk to Torvald about it. Nora then confides an important secret to Mrs. Linde that Torvald does not know. Nora illegally arranges for Torvald to travel to Italy for treatment. Nora told Torvald that she took the money from her father. Over the years since then, Nora has been working to pay off that debt. And very soon this debt will be repaid.

Krogstad’s Blackmail

Krogstad works in a lower position at Torvald’s bank. He comes to Torvald’s house. Nora reacts slightly to Krogstad’s arrival. He describes Krogstad as a man of low morals. After the meeting with Krogstad, Torvald comes into the living room and says that he will probably offer Mrs. Linde a job at his bank. Then Dr. Rank, Torvald, and Mrs. Linde leave, and Nora is left alone. Nora’s children return home with their nanny Anne-Marie. Nora continues to play with them. But Nora stops playing when she sees Krogstad. Krogstad then tells Nora that he will tell Torvald about her secret loan. Krogstad says Torvald would fire him. He wants Nora to try to convince Torvald not to fire Krogstad. And if Nora doesn’t, he will reveal her secret. Krogstad threatens her to tell everyone that she forged her father’s signature and withdraws the money.

Recommendation to Torvald for Krogstad

When Nora suggests Krogstad’s name to Torvald, Torvald becomes angry. He states that Krogstad is an immoral man. Even the presence of such people sickened Torvald.

Act two begins the next day, Christmas Day. Nora anxiously cleans the living room. Mrs. Linde then arrives and helps Nora sew her party costume. They are invited to a neighbor’s house this evening. Nora tells Mrs. Linde that Dr. Rank has a terminal illness that he inherited from his father. Seeing Nora’s suspicious behavior, Mrs. Linde thinks it might be Dr. Rank from whom she took the loan. Nora later denies it and tells her not to tell her secret. Meanwhile, Torvald entered the room. Nora again proposes to Torvald for Krogstad, and Torvald likewise rejects this time. Torvald exposes Krogstad’s immoral activities to Nora. 

Torvald leaves and Dr. Rank comes to the room. Dr. Rank says he won’t live much longer. Nora then jokes with him to cheer him up. Rank expresses his love for Nora whenever she goes to talk to Rank about convincing Torvald about Krogstad. After knowing this, Nora tells him nothing. 

After Dr. Rank left, Krogstad arrives. He blackmails Nora again. He wants to re-enter the bank and wants a higher position. He then writes a letter detailing Nora’s secret loan and leaves it in the Helmers’ letterbox. Nora is very scared and tells the truth to Mrs. Linde. Mrs. Linde advises Nora to keep Torvald away from the letterbox as much as possible. He will speak to Krogstad on Nora’s behalf. Nora convinces Torvald not to read the letter until they return from the party.

Mrs. Linde talks to Krogstad during the party. Their conversation suggests that there was once a deep love between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad. But Mrs. Linde left Krogstad to marry a rich man. But now she is completely free, there is no turning back. If Krogstad wants, Linde will start a new life with him. Krogstad becomes overjoyed to hear this and vows to take back his letter.

Nora’s Secret Revelation 

Nora and Torvald return from the party. Then Torvald takes the letter out of his letterbox. He also receives a card from Dr. Rank that indicates he is about to die quickly. Torvald then gets very angry after reading the letter sent by Krogstad and abuses Nora as a liar, and conspirator. He declares that she will never see their children again. Then the maid Helen brings another letter sent by Krogstad which clears all charges against Nora and Torvald is overjoyed. He apologizes for his actions, but Nora doesn’t listen. Nora says that they do not understand each other in their eight years of marriage. Torvald treats Nora like a doll. Nora can have no personal opinion, just as the doll has no will. But Nora doesn’t want to be like a doll anymore. Then she leaves the house behind.

Read Also: Mother Courage and Her Children Summary

Mr. Abdullah
Mr. Abdullah

Mr. Abdullah is a passionate love of Literature. Researcher and Lecturer of English Literature and Language.

Articles: 51

Leave a Reply