Witnessing Nora’s pouty disappointment, Torvald tries to cheer up his wife by offering her money to spend for Christmas. Nora becomes enthusiastic again and thanks him profusely. She then shows him all the gifts she has purchased for their children. Torvald asks Nora what she would like for Christmas, and at first, Nora replies that she doesn’t need a gift. It becomes apparent that she is hesitant to tell Torvald what she wants, and finally she says that she would just like some money so that she can pick out the perfect thing and buy it herself.
Torvald again accuses Nora of being wasteful, arguing that wastefulness with money runs in her family and that she inherited the trait from her father. But, he says, he loves his “lovely little singing bird” just the way she is, and he wouldn’t want her to change.
Torvald then asks Nora if she has given in to her sweet tooth that day. Nora vehemently denies Torvald’s suggestion and continues her denial even when Torvald specifically asks if she has eaten any macaroons. Torvald finally abandons his questions, respecting her word.
The two discuss that evening’s Christmas festivities and the invitation of Dr. Rank to dinner. Torvald says Dr. Rank knows that he is always welcome and therefore doesn’t need to be invited. Nevertheless, Torvald tells Nora, he will invite Dr. Rank when he visits that morning. Torvald and Nora then return to their discussion of how wonderful it is that Torvald has a secure income and a good job.
Torvald recalls the events of the previous Christmas, when Nora shut herself up in a room until very late every night for three weeks to make Christmas ornaments. He remarks that he had never been so bored in his life. He also emphasizes that Nora had very little to show for all of her toil when she was finished. Nora reminds her husband that she can’t be blamed for the cat getting into the room and destroying all her hard work. Torvald again expresses happiness that they are financially better off than they were before.
The doorbell rings and the maid, Helene, announces that Dr. Rank has arrived to see Torvald and that there is a lady caller as well.
The transaction between Nora and the porter that opens A Doll’s House immediately puts the spotlight on money, which emerges as one of the forces driving the play’s conflicts as it draws lines between genders, classes, and moral standards. Though Nora owes the porter fifty øre (a Norwegian unit of currency), she gives him twice that amount, presumably because she is infused with the holiday spirit. While Nora likes to spend and allows the idea of buying presents to block out financial concerns, Torvald holds a more pragmatic view of money, jokingly calling Nora a spendthrift and telling her that she is completely foolish when it comes to financial matters.
Torvald’s assertion that Nora’s lack of…