How does the character of Nora Helmer develop during Act Two?

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How does the character of Nora Helmer develop during Act Two?

At the beginning of Act Two, Ibsen interestingly uses the “stripped and dishevelled” Christmas tree to reflect Nora’s restless, precarious state of mind. From this point onwards, she knows that she must build a façade over the next few days, which is dramatic irony considering that the audience is already aware that the whole marriage is a façade, and that it is Krogstad’s actions which are pulling away the illusions surrounding Nora and Torvald’s relationship.

Nora’s first passage, coupled with the stage directions that break up the dialogue, accentuate her troubled mindset very clearly. Ibsen uses short, broken sentences, such as “Nor tomorrow.” and “Quite empty.” to represent Nora’s flow-of-consciousness in contrast to her usually polished dialogue, such as that with Mrs Linde in Act One. The playwright also hints at a slide into madness with the line “Silly, silly.” which shows Nora berating herself as if she were scolding a child, also signifying the fact that she is powerless in the face of dominant men, such as Krogstad and Torvald.

When Nora says, “Why, I’ve got three small children”, the audience is reminded of Torvald’s opinions on criminal mothers and Nora’s fearful reaction at the end of Act One, giving Ibsen the perfect opportunity to show how this has developed. When Nora calmly tells Anne-Marie that she would not be “able to spend so much time with them”, the audience is aware of the reasoning behind this statement, although Ibsen does not make this explicit through Nora’s fragmented monologues. However, Nora begins to hint at another plan which the audience is ignorant of. When she makes references to going away “for ever” the audience’s attention is quickly diverted to the story of Anne-Marie’s daughter, bringing another layer into the web of secrecy surrounding Nora.

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During Nora’s conversation with Mrs Linde about Dr Rank, Ibsen once again suggests ideas which are then planted into the audience’s minds. In particular, although Nora never mentions asking Dr Rank for money to pay off Krogstad during this conversation, it is delicately implied so that when she does, in fact, ask Dr Rank for a “very great service”, it is not a surprise for the audience: rather, it clears the way for the greater shock of Rank’s declaration of love.

Torvald’s entrance and his subsequent discussion with Nora is very similar to that at the end of Act One, ...

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