Nora requested the lamp to end the moment of intimacy that Dr. Rank spoiled with his confession. As a married woman, she did not want her affair with Dr. Rank to be public, and she was afraid that her secrets might be disclosed as well. After Mr. Rank’s declaration of love, Nora replied, “That was quite unnecessary” and exclaimed in a moment of frustration, “Why did you have to be so clumsy, Dr. Rank! Everything was so good.” (Mays 1731). The light is both real and symbolic, as the lamp was demanded to lighten the room with its dark, romantic atmosphere and to signify that all secrets and lies can be eventually revealed. When Krogstad appeared, Nora reminded him to be quiet and cautious in the Helmer’s house when she referred to the place as ‘my husband’s home’ (Mays 1733). Thus, Ibsen might be associating light with truth in the play since the Helmer’s household was full of dark secrets that could be discovered if one of the characters told the truth about Nora.
The dance was Nora’s way of fighting against patriarchy, male dominance, and the oppression of women. She was never an independent woman and lived under the influence and control of her father and husband, which is evident from her phrase ‘with Torvald it’s just the same as with Papa.’ (Mays 1732). Nora explains, ‘I could sneak down to the maids’ quarters because they never tried to improve me, and it was always so amusing, the way they talked to each other.’ (Mays 1732). The violent practice might be explained by Nora’s need to be free from oppression, which was further limited by Krogstad’s blackmailing. Dancing was her way to preserve her life and dignity, as she tried to distract Helmer from reading the letter and prevent him from learning the truth about her financial deal with Torvald.
Mays, K. J. (2019). The Norton Introduction to Literature. 13th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2018.