Dr. Rank's function in the play also refers to a past occasion in Nora's life. Just as she used to seek the conversation of the maids as a refreshing change from the moralizing of her father, Nora finds amusement in Rank's companionship as a change from the tiresome cant of Torvald.
Rank's illness also serves as the physical counterpart of the moral illness of Krogstad and, by extension, of Torvald. An innocent victim of a social disease, the physician is as deeply concerned as Torvald in maintaining an exterior of well-being. Rather than allow anyone to witness the degrading aspects of his "final dissolution," Rank bids farewell to his friends and prepares to die in private. Torvald, by the same token, wishes to maintain appearances "at any cost" when he discovers Nora's disease, of which he is the victim.