A Doll’s House Summary by Henrik Ibsen


A Doll’s House is a 3-act problem play written when a revolution was going on in Europe. The play is a landmark in the development of a new genre-realism, which depicts life appropriately, thus going against, idealism and utopian thoughts of the preceding ages.

The play deals with the fate of a married woman, who lacked opportunities for self-fulfilment in a male dominated-world at that time.


Henrik Ibsen describes the story of a married woman who considered her life to be quite satisfied with her husband in their “doll house” of which she is the doll. However, with the development of the play, she is insulted by her husband for a forgery that she did for his sake, even after knowing the truth.

When the matter is solved, her husband tried to calm her down, but she becomes aware of her status in the “doll’s house” and at once leaves it. Thus she is the modern woman who fights against gender discrimination.

Act 1

As the play opens, Nora enters her home along with a number of gifts as it is Christmas Eve. Her husband (manager at a bank) who is reading books, chides Nora for spending lavishly on these things as the last year they were out of money because she spent too much. However, as Halmer is about to get a promotion, Nora doesn’t find anything wrong with spending money.

The maid comes and announces that Mrs Linde (A widow who is an old school friend of Nora) and Dr Rank (a rich family friend who is secretly in love with Nora) have come. While Halmer goes away, Nora attends Mrs Linde and both ladies start telling about their lives to each other.

Linde tells about her unhappy life. Her husband died without leaving fortune or children for her. She further tells Nora that her mother got ill and she had to take care of her brothers as well. This is why she appears to be older than Nora who seems to be quite young and innocent.

Nora says that her life was equally difficult. Since one last year, they had a hard time as her husband got ill and she had to take him to Italy for his recovery. The expenses of treatment were quite high and she had to borrow money from Krogstad by forging her father’s signatures without telling him and even her husband.

Since then she is secretly saving to pay off her debt. Also,  Halmer became a bank manager and thus their economic conditions got better. Linda tells Nora that she came in search of a job.

Nora assures to help her. Krogstad (an employee at Torvald’s bank) appears and goes straight to Halmer. His appearance makes Nora uneasy.

A little later Halmer comes out and when Nora tells him about Mrs Linde, he at once agrees to give her a job at his bank. All leave and Nora remains alone.

Just then Krogstad comes and tells Nora that her husband is about to fire him from the job and asks her to pursue her husband to let him retain his job or else he will disclose her crime (forgery) to him.

Saying this he leaves. When Halmer returns back, Nora pleads him not to fire Krogstad from his job but Halmer tells about his hypocrisy and lies and remains unmoved to his decision.

Act 2

The next day Nora being quite worried again pleads her husband not to dismiss Krogstad adding that he will defame him, but fails to convince Halmer.

Dr Rank comes and as Nora is about to ask for some financial help, he confesses his love for her as he is about to die of Tuberculosis. Nora is stunned. She gives up the idea of asking for money from him.

A little later Krogstad comes. Nora asks Dr. rank to go to Halmer’s study room. Nora tells Krogstad that she tried her best to persuade her husband but he did not change his mind.

At this Krogstad says that he will write a letter to Halmer telling about the forgery. Nora begs him not to do so but he puts the letter in the Halmer’s mailbox.

Nora tells Linde about the critical situation. Linde reveals that she was in love with Krogstad before her marriage and even today they love each other. She assures to help Nora by persuading Krogstad.

When Halmer tries to open his mailbox, Nora uses her charms to prevent him from opening it saying that he should keep business aside till the next night party.

Halmer agrees. Nora feels guilty and even thinks of committing suicide to save her husband from the shame of the revelation of her crime.

Act 3

The next night, Linde and Krogstad meet. Linde tells him that she had to marry a rich man who could support her and her family. She also tells that she is a widow now and also free from family obligation. She expresses her desire to live with him.

Krogstad is quite pleased. He decides to take back his letter but Linde says that Halmer should know the truth for the sake of marriage. Nora and Halmer return back. Dr Rank who secretly followed them finding Nora alone bids final goodbye as his death is near.

Halmer reads Krogstad letter and is quite outraged over his wife’s forgery. He abuses Nora. Just then maid comes with another letter of Krogstad.

Halmer reads the letter and is overjoyed to learn that Krogstad has had a change of heart and has returned the bond. He at once forgives his wife.

However, Nora realises that her husband never loved her and she was just a doll whom he played with. She decides to end up living in Halmer’s house and in spite of his pleas she goes out ‘slamming the door behind her’.