Dr. Rank - a Minor Character with a Major Role Essay

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Dr. Rank in A Doll’s House: A Minor Character with a Substantial Role A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s world renowned domestic drama, discusses themes of human entrapment and societal conformance through the relationship of Nora and Torvald Helmer - its central characters. Dr. Rank, a regular visitor to their home (this play’s setting), is a minor character as the plot does not revolve around him. However, Ibsen designates to the character of Dr. Rank a major role in the thematic and technical success of the play. Ibsen utilizes Rank’s character to invoke the motif of death, offer commentary on the theme of morality, and ensure that the text’s themes are not seen as gender-specific. In addition, Rank is used to facilitate the development of central characters and the realism of Ibsen’s plot. This essay shall now proceed to justify the assertion that Rank, although a minor character, plays a substantial role in A Doll’s House. Ibsen presents Dr. Rank as a critically ill patient of an inherited venereal disease, hinted to be congenital syphilis (Austin, 2009), who makes several ruminations on death. Death is a recurring motif in the play and represents the purgation of sins against society’s moral code. Ibsen invokes this motif through Rank’s dialogues. In his first appearance in Act I, Rank speaks disdainfully of the ill’s wish ‘to prolong the agony [of living with an illness] as long as possible’, and scornfully states that the ‘morally diseased’, feel the same. He goes on to state that such is the case of ‘a lawyer of the name of Krogstad... [who] suffers from a diseased moral character’, (Ibsen, 1992, p. 15). We later learn that Krogstad, another character in the play, is guilty of having committed a crime many years ago. By making a vivid comparison in Rank’s dialogues between fatal illness and moral blemishes, Ibsen emphasizes his society’s intolerance of that

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