A Doctor in the House
Henrik Ibsen's character, Dr. Rank, in "A Doll's House" is an important component of the play, though he is not a lead character. Rank enhances the story in his own right as a character, but mainly serves a greater purpose as an accentuation of Nora'a character. Nora's relationship with Rank is equal, and perhaps it implants in Nora's mind the idea that relationships should be equal. Their relationship brings up questions about social correctness and even the values necessary in a marriage. Essentially, Dr. Rank's purpose is to refine the audience's understanding of Nora's character.
Dr. Rank's presence establishes the lack of communication between Nora and her husband. Nora confides in Dr. Rank, involving him in secrets and everyday conversation. For instance, Rank is the first character to be let in on Nora's secret plan to take Helmer on a "vacation," supposedly paid for by her father. Also, Rank refers to Christine Linde as "a name I have often heard in this house," when Helmer is virtually unaware of Linde's existence (Ibsen 542). The quote further indicates Rank and Nora share things in which Helmer is not included. Rank is like a messenger for the couple on one occasion when Nora finds out about Helmer's new job from the doctor. Nora asks Rank, "Tell me Dr. Rank--will everyone who works at the bank come under Torvald now?" (542). These conversations help to conclude that most of Nora's meaningful and informative conversation is not with her own husband.
Furthermore, the doctor encourages Nora to confide in him; "You can say it to us…say it, here he is," says Rank, urging Nora to do as she wishes around him (542). Nora seems to divulge her thoughts to Rank and not Helmer, relaying an inward struggle in Nora to do as she wishes. She lies to Helmer about the macaroons, but hastily reveals her hidden snack to the doctor. Rank and Nora's relationship shows Nora's longing for independence from Helmer and society's rules. Even Mrs. Linde, a relatively liberated woman, feels Nora's intimate relationship with the doctor is curiously inappropriate. Linde is shocked that Nora would speak with Rank about the debt behind Helmer's back, to which Nora replies, "I've got to get out of this other business; and that's been going on behind his back…" (549). Linde declares "You ought give up this business with Dr. Rank," making known the unprecedented state of Nora's relationships (549). Rank and Nora's relationship shows how Nora has inappropriately replaced Helmer with Rank, crippling the marriage further by hindering communication with her husband and driving her to become more independent.
Nora's interactions with Rank also reveal her personality. Her knack for manipulating people is made evident when considers asking Rank for money to pay the...