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´╗┐Title: A Doll's House
Author: Ibsen, Henrik, 1828-1906
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Doll's House" ***




Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius

Ten Cent Pocket Series No. 353
Haldeman-Julius Company
Girard, Kansas



  Torvald Helmer.
  Nora, his wife.
  Doctor Rank.
  Mrs. Linde.
  Nils Krogstad.
  Helmer's three young children.
  Anne, their nurse.
  A Housemaid.
  A Porter.

(_The action takes place in Helmer's house_.)


(SCENE.--_A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study. Between the
doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and
beyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, armchairs and a
small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther end, another door;
and on the same side, nearer the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs
and a rocking-chair; between the stove and the door, a small table.
Engravings on the wall; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a
small book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter._

_A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to open.
Enter_ NORA, _humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in out-door
dress and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to
the right. She leaves the outer door open after her, and through it is
seen a_ PORTER _who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket, which he
gives to the_ MAID _who has opened the door_.)

_Nora_. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children
do not see it till this evening, when it is dressed. (_To the_ PORTER,
_taking out her purse_.) How much?

_Porter_. Sixpence.

_Nora_. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (_The_ PORTER _thanks
her, and goes out_. NORA _shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as
she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her
pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door
and listens_.) Yes, he is in. (_Still humming, she goes to the table on
the right_.)

_Helmer_ (_calls out from his room_). Is that my little lark twittering
out there?

_Nora_ (_busy opening some of the parcels_). Yes, it is!

_Helmer_. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

_Nora_. Yes!

_Helmer_. When did my squirrel come home?

_Nora_. Just now. (_Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes
her mouth_.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

_Helmer_. Don't disturb me. (_A little later, he opens the door and
looks into the room, pen in hand_.) Bought, did you say? All these
things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

_Nora_. Yes, but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go a
little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to

_Helmer_. Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly.

_Nora_. Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn't we?
Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots
and lots of money.

_Helmer_. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarter
before the salary is due.

_Nora_. Pooh! we can borrow till then.

_Helmer_. Nora! (_Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear_.)
The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty pounds
today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on New
Year's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and--

_Nora_ (_putting her hands over his mouth_). Oh! don't say such horrid

_Helmer_. Still, suppose that happened,--what then?

_Nora_. If that were to happen, I don't suppose I should care whether I
owed money or not.

_Helmer_. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?

_Nora_. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they

_Helmer_. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I
think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or
beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have
kept bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way
for the short time longer that there need be any struggle.

_Nora_ (_moving towards the stove_). As you please, Torvald.

_Helmer_ (_following her_). Come, come, my little skylark must not droop
her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (_Taking
out his purse_.) Nora, what do you think I have got here?

_Nora_ (_turning round quickly_). Money!

_Helmer_. There you are. (_Gives her some money_.) Do you think I don't
know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-time?

_Nora_ (_counting_). Ten shillings--a pound--two pounds! Thank you,
thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.

_Helmer_. Indeed it must.

_Nora_. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I have
bought. And ah so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, and a sword;
and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and dolly's bedstead for
Emmy.--they are very plain, but anyway she will soon break them in
pieces. And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for the maids; old
Anne ought really to have something better.

_Helmer_. And what is in this parcel?

_Nora_ (_crying out_). No, no! you mustn't see that till this evening.

_Helmer_. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little person,
what would you like for yourself?

_Nora_. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don't want anything.

_Helmer_. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you would
particularly like to have.

_Nora_. No, I really can't think of anything--unless, Torvald--

_Helmer_. Well?

_Nora_ (_playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes to
his_). If you really want to give me something, you might--you might--

_Helmer_. Well, out with it!

_Nora_ (_speaking quickly_). You might give me money, Torvald. Only just
as much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will buy
something with it.

_Helmer_. But, Nora--

_Nora_. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up
in beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn't that
be fun?

_Helmer_. What are little people called that are always wasting money?

_Nora_. Spendthrifts--I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald, and
then I shall have time to think what I am most in want of. That is a
very sensible plan, isn't it?

_Helmer_ (_smiling_). Indeed it is--that is to say, if you were really
to save out of the money I give you, and then really buy something for
yourself. But if you spend it all on the housekeeping and any number of
unnecessary things, then I merely have to pay up again.

_Nora_. Oh but, Torvald--

_Helmer_. You can't deny it, my dear, little Nora. (_Puts his arm round
her waist_.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of
money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!

_Nora_. It's a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.

_Helmer_ (_laughing_). That's very true,--all you can. But you can't
save anything!

_Nora_ (_smiling quietly and happily_). You haven't any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.

_Helmer_. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You always
find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as soon as you have
got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You never know where it has
gone. Still, one must take you as you are. It is in the blood; for
indeed it is true that you can inherit these things, Nora.

_Nora_. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.

_Helmer_. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you are,
my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me that you are
looking rather--what shall I say--rather uneasy today?

_Nora_. Do I?

_Helmer_. You do, really. Look straight at me.

_Nora_ (_looks at him_). Well?

_Helmer_ (_wagging his finger at her_). Hasn't Miss Sweet-Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?

_Nora_. No; what makes you think that?

_Helmer_. Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?

_Nora_. No, I assure you, Torvald--

_Helmer_. Not been nibbling sweets?

_Nora_. No, certainly not.

_Helmer_. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?

_Nora_. No, Torvald, I assure you really--

_Helmer_. There, there, of course I was only joking.

_Nora_ (_going to the table on the right_). I should not think of going
against your wishes.

_Helmer_. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word--(_Going
up to her_.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, my darling.
They will all be revealed tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, no

_Nora_. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?

_Helmer_. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will come
to dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in this
morning. I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can't think how I am
looking forward to this evening.

_Nora_. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!

_Helmer_. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think of, isn't

_Nora_. It's wonderful!

_Helmer_. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long after midnight,
making ornaments for the Christmas Tree and all the other fine things
that were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever

_Nora_. I didn't find it dull.

_Helmer_ (_smiling_). But there was precious little result, Nora.

_Nora_. Oh, you shouldn't tease me about that again. How could I help
the cat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?

_Helmer_. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the best of
intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing. But it is a good
thing that our hard times are over.

_Nora_. Yes, it is really wonderful.

_Helmer_. This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and you
needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands--

_Nora_ (_clapping her hands_). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer, need
I! It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (_Taking his arm_.) Now I
will tell you how I have been thinking we ought to arrange things,
Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over--(_A bell rings in the hall_.)
There's the bell. (_She tidies the room a little_.) There's someone at
the door. What a nuisance!

_Helmer_. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.

_Maid_ (_in the doorway_). A lady to see you, ma'am,--a stranger.

_Nora_. Ask her to come in.

_Maid_ (_to_ HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.

_Helmer_. Did he go straight into my room?

_Maid_. Yes, sir.

(HELMER _goes into his room. The_ MAID _ushers in_ MRS. LINDE, _who is
in traveling dress, and shuts the door_.)

_Mrs Linde_ (_in a dejected and timid voice_). How do you do, Nora?

_Nora_ (_doubtfully_). How do you do--

_Mrs. Linde_. You don't recognize me, I suppose.

_Nora_ No, I don't know--yes, to be sure, I seem to--(_Suddenly_.) Yes!
Christine! Is it really you?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, it is I.

_Nora_. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how could
I--(_In a gentle voice_.) How you have altered, Christine!

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years--

_Nora_. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight
years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have
come into the town, and have taken this long journey in winter--that was
plucky of you.

_Mrs. Linde_. I arrived by steamer this morning.

_Nora_. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful!
We will have such fun together! But take off your things. You are not
cold, I hope. (_Helps her_.) Now we will sit down by the stove, and be
cosy. No, take this arm-chair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair.
(_Takes her hands_.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only
the first moment--You are a little paler, Christine, and perhaps a
little thinner.

_Mrs. Linde_. And much, much older, Nora.

_Nora_. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not much.
(_Stops suddenly and speaks seriously_.) What a thoughtless creature I
am, chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.

_Mrs. Linde_. What do you mean, Nora?

_Nora_ (_gently_). Poor Christine, you are a widow.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes; it is three years ago now.

_Nora_. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you, Christine, I
meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it off
and something always prevented me.

_Mrs. Linde_. I quite understand, dear.

_Nora_. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must have
suffered. And he left you nothing?

_Mrs. Linde_. No.

_Nora_. And no children?

_Mrs. Linde_. No.

_Nora_. Nothing at all, then?

_Mrs. Linde_. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.

_Nora_ (_looking incredulously at her_). But, Christine, is that

_Mrs. Linde_ (_smiles sadly and strokes her hair_). It sometimes
happens, Nora.

_Nora_. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I have
three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they are out
with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.

_Mrs. Linde_. No, no; I want to hear about you.

_Nora_. No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I must
only think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do
you know we have just had a great piece of good luck?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, what is it?

_Nora_. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!

_Mrs. Linde_. Your husband? What good luck!

_Nora_. Yes tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an uncertain
thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury cases; and naturally
Torvald has never been willing to do that, and I quite agree with him.
You may imagine how pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the
Bank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots of
commissions. For the future we can live quite differently--we can do
just as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be
splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what
one needs.

_Nora_. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_smiling_). Nora, Nora, haven't you learnt sense yet? In
our schooldays you were a great spendthrift.

_Nora_ (_laughing_). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (_Wags her
finger at her_.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We have
not been in a position for me to waste money. We have both had to work.

_Mrs. Linde_. You too?

_Nora_. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crochet-work, embroidery, and
that kind of thing. (_Dropping her voice_.) And other things as well.
You know Torvald left his office when we were married? There was no
prospect of promotion there, and he had to try and earn more than
before. But during the first year he overworked himself dreadfully. You
see, he had to make money every way he could, and he worked early and
late; but he couldn't stand it, and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors
said it was necessary for him to go south.

_Mrs. Linde_. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?

_Nora_. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It was
just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But it cost
a tremendous lot of money, Christine.

_Mrs. Linde_. So I should think.

_Nora_. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That's a lot, isn't

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have the

_Nora_. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.

_Mrs. Linde_. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he died,
wasn't it?

_Nora_. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I was
expecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor sick Torvald
to look after. My dear, kind father--I never saw him again, Christine.
That was the saddest time I have known since our marriage.

_Mrs. Linde_. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went off to

_Nora_. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on our
going, so we started a month later.

_Mrs. Linde_. And your husband came back quite well?

_Nora_. As sound as a bell!

_Mrs Linde_. But--the doctor?

_Nora_. What doctor?

_Mrs Linde_. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived here
just as I did, was the doctor?

_Nora_. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least once
every day. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since then, and our
children are strong and healthy and so am I. (_Jumps up and claps her
hands_.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be alive and happy!--But how
horrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own affairs. (_Sits on a
stool near her, and rests her arms on her knees_.) You mustn't be angry
with me. Tell me, is it really true that you did not love your husband?
Why did you marry him?

_Mrs. Linde_. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless,
and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I did not think I
was justified in refusing his offer.

_Nora_. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time,

_Mrs. Linde_. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was a
precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and there was
nothing left.

_Nora_. And then?--

_Mrs. Linde_. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could
find--first a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last three
years have seemed like one long working-day, with no rest. Now it is at
an end, Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for she is gone; and the
boys do not need me either; they have got situations and can shift for

_Nora_. What a relief you must feel it--

_Mrs. Linde_. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one
to live for any more. (_Gets up restlessly_.) That is why I could not
stand the life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be
easier here to find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts.
If only I could have the good luck to get some regular work--office work
of some kind--

_Nora_. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look
tired out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_walking to the window_). I have no father to give me
money for a journey, Nora.

_Nora_ (_rising_). Oh, don't be angry with me.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_going up to her_). It is you that must not be angry with
me, dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so
bitter. No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always on the look-out
for chances. One must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me
of the happy turn your fortunes have taken--you will hardly believe
it--I was delighted not so much on your account as on my own.

_Nora_. How do you mean?--Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps
Torvald could get you something to do.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.

_Nora_. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the
subject very cleverly--I will think of something that will please him
very much. It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.

_Mrs. Linde_. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me! It is
doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens and troubles
of life.

_Nora_. I--? I know so little of them?

_Mrs Linde_ (_smiling_). My dear! Small household cares and that sort of
thing!--You are a child, Nora.

_Nora_ (_tosses her head and crosses the stage_). You ought not to be so

_Mrs. Linde_. No?

_Nora_. You are just like all the others. They all think that I am
incapable of anything really serious--

_Mrs. Linde_. Come, come--

_Nora_.--that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.

_Mrs. Linde_. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your

_Nora_. Pooh!--those were trifles. (_Lowering her voice_.) I have not
told you the important thing.

_Mrs. Linde_. The important thing? What do you mean?

_Nora_. You look down upon me altogether, Christine--but you ought not
to. You are proud, aren't you, of having-worked so hard and so long for
your mother?

_Mrs. Linde_. Indeed, I don't look down on any one. But it is true that
I am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to make the end
of my mother's life almost free from care.

_Nora_. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your

_Mrs. Linde_. I think I have the right to be.

_Nora_. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have something
to be proud and glad of.

_Mrs. Linde_. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?

_Nora_. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any
account--no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.

_Mrs. Linde_. But what is it?

_Nora_. Come here. (_Pulls her down on the sofa beside her_.) Now I will
show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who
saved Torvald's life.

_Mrs. Linde_. "Saved"? How?

_Nora_. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never have
recovered if he had not gone there--

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.

_Nora_ (_smiling_). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others think,

_Mrs. Linde_. But.--

_Nora_. Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.

_Mrs. Linde_. You? All that large sum?

_Nora_. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?

_Mrs. Linde_. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win a
prize in the Lottery?

_Nora_ (_contemptuously_). In the Lottery? There would have been no
credit in that.

_Mrs. Linde_. But where did you get it from, then?

_Nora_ (_humming and smiling with an air of mystery_). Hm, hu! Aha!

_Mrs. Linde_. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.

_Nora_. Couldn't I? Why not?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's consent.

_Nora_ (_tossing her head_). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business--a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever--

_Mrs. Linde_. I don't understand it at all, Nora.

_Nora_. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed the
money. I may have got it some other way. (_Lies back on the sofa._)
Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is as attractive
as I am--

_Mrs. Linde_. You are a mad creature.

_Nora_. Now, you know you're full of curiosity, Christine.

_Mrs. Linde_. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven't you been a little bit

_Nora_ (_sits up straight_). Is it imprudent to save your husband's

_Mrs. Linde_. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to--

_Nora_. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should have no
idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors
came and said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing to
save him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn't try, first of
all, to get what I wanted as if it were for myself? I told him how much
I should love to travel abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and
entreaties with him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition
I was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even
hinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry,
Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my
husband not to indulge me in my whims and caprices--as I believe he
called them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved--and that was how I
came to devise a way out of the difficulty--

_Mrs. Linde_. And did your husband never get to know from your father
that the money had not come from him?

_Nora_. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let him
into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so ill
then--alas, there never was any need to tell him.

_Mrs. Linde_. And since then have you never told your secret to your

_Nora_. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has such
strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful and
humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to
know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations
altogether; our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is now.

_Mrs. Linde_. Do you mean never to tell him about it?

_Nora_ (_meditatively, and with a half smile._) Yes--some day, perhaps,
after many years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as I am now.
Don't laugh at me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is no longer as
devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting
have palled on him; then it may be a good thing to have something in
reserve--(_Breaking off,_) What nonsense! That time will never come.
Now, what do you think of my great secret, Christine? Do you still think
I am of no use? I can tell you, too, that this affair has caused me a
lot of worry. It has been by no means easy for me to meet my engagements
punctually. I may tell you that there is something that is called, in
business, quarterly interest, and another thing called payment in
instalments, and it is always so dreadfully difficult to manage them. I
have had to save a little here and there, where I could, you understand.
I have not been able to put aside much from my housekeeping money, for
Torvald must have a good table. I couldn't let my children be shabbily
dressed; I have felt obliged to use up all he gave me for them, the
sweet little darlings!

_Mrs. Linde_. So it has all had to come out of your own necessaries of
life, poor Nora?

_Nora_. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it. Whenever
Torvald has given me money for new dresses and such things, I have never
spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest and
cheapest things. Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me, and so
Torvald has never noticed it. But it was often very hard on me,
Christine--because it is delightful to be really well dressed, isn't it?

_Mrs. Linde_. Quite so.

_Nora_. Well, then I have found other ways of earning money. Last winter
I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I locked myself up
and sat writing every evening until quite late at night. Many a time I
was desperately tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure to
sit there working and earning money. It was like being a man.

_Mrs. Linde_. How much have you been able to pay off in that way?

_Nora_. I can't tell you exactly. You see, it is very difficult to keep
an account of a business matter of that kind. I only know that I have
paid every penny that I could scrape together. Many a time I was at my
wits' end. (_Smiles._) Then I used to sit here and imagine that a rich
old gentleman had fallen in love with me--

_Mrs. Linde_. What! Who was it?

_Nora_. Be quiet!--that he had died; and that when his will was opened
it contained, written in big letters, the instruction: "The lovely Mrs.
Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over to her at once in cash."

_Mrs. Linde_. But, my dear Nora--who could the man be?

_Nora_. Good gracious, can't you understand? There was no old gentleman
at all; it was only something that I used to sit here and imagine, when
I couldn't think of any way of procuring money. But it's all the same
now; the tiresome old person can stay where he is, as far as I am
concerned; I don't care about him or his will either, for I am free from
care now. (_Jumps up_.) My goodness, it's delightful to think of,
Christine! Free from care! To be able to be free from care, quite free
from care; to be able to play and romp with the children; to be able to
keep the house beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it!
And, think of it, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky!
Perhaps we shall be able to take a little trip--perhaps I shall see the
sea again! Oh, it's a wonderful thing to be alive and be happy. (_A bell
is heard in the hall_.)

_Mrs. Linde_ (_rising_). There is the bell; perhaps I had better go.

_Nora_. No, don't go; no one will come in here; it is sure to be for

_Servant_ (_at the hall door_). Excuse me, ma'am--there is a gentleman
to see the master, and as the doctor is with him--

_Nora_. Who is it?

_Krogstad_ (_at the door_). It is I, Mrs. Helmer. (_Mrs._ LINDE _starts,
trembles, and turns to the window_.)

_Nora_ (_takes a step towards him, and speaks in a strained low voice_).
You? What is it? What do you want to see my husband about?

_Krogstad_. Bank business--in a way. I have a small post in the Bank,
and I hear your husband is to be our chief now--

_Nora_. Then it is--

_Krogstad_. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmers; absolutely
nothing else.

_Nora_. Be so good as to go into the study then. (_She bows
indifferently to him and shuts the door into the hall; then comes back
and makes up the fire in the stove_.)

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora--who was that man?

_Nora_. A lawyer, of the name of Krogstad.

_Mrs. Linde_. Then it really was he.

_Nora_. Do you know the man?

_Mrs. Linde_. I used to--many years ago. At one time he was a
solicitor's clerk in our town.

_Nora_. Yes, he was.

_Mrs. Linde_. He is greatly altered.

_Nora_. He made a very unhappy marriage.

_Mrs. Linde_. He is a widower now, isn't he?

_Nora_. With several children. There now, it is burning up. (_Shuts the
door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside_.)

_Mrs. Linde_. They say he carries on various kinds of business.

_Nora_. Really! Perhaps he does; I don't know anything about it. But
don't let us think of business; it is so tiresome.

_Doctor Rank_ (_comes out of_ HELMER'S _study. Before he shuts the door
he calls to him_). No, my dear fellow, I won't disturb you; I would
rather go in to your wife for a little while. (_Shuts the door and sees_
Mrs. LINDE.) I beg your pardon; I am afraid I am disturbing you too.

_Nora_. No, not at all. (_Introducing him_.) Doctor Rank, Mrs. Linde.

_Rank_. I have often heard Mrs. Linde's name mentioned here. I think I
passed you on the stairs when I arrived, Mrs. Linde?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, I go up very slowly; I can't manage stairs well.

_Rank_. Ah! some slight internal weakness?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.

_Rank_. Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have come to town to
amuse yourself with our entertainments?

_Mrs. Linde_. I have come to look for work.

_Rank_. Is that a good cure for overwork?

_Mrs. Linde_. One must live, Doctor Rank.

_Rank_. Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.

_Nora_. Look here, Doctor Rank--you know you want to live.

_Rank_. Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to prolong the
agony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And so are
those who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad case, too, is at
this very moment with Helmer--

_Mrs. Linde_ (_sadly_). Ah!

_Nora_. Whom do you mean?

_Rank_. A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you don't know at
all. He suffers from a diseased moral character, Mrs. Helmer; but even
he began talking of its being highly important that he should live.

_Nora_. Did he? What did he want to speak to Torvald about?

_Rank_. I have no idea; I only heard that it was something about the

_Nora_. I didn't know this--what's his name--Krogstad had anything to do
with the Bank.

_Rank_. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (_To_ Mrs. LINDE.) I
don't know whether you find also in your part of the world that there
are certain people who go zealously snuffing about to smell out moral
corruption, and, as soon as they have found some, put the person
concerned into some lucrative position where they can keep their eye on
him. Healthy natures are left out in the cold.

_Mrs. Linde_. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking care

_Rank_ (_shrugging his shoulders_). Yes, there you are. That is the
sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.

(NORA, _who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into smothered
laughter and claps her hands_.)

_Rank_. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society
really is?

_Nora_. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at
something quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me, Doctor
Rank, are all the people who are employed in the Bank dependent on
Torvald now?

_Rank_. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?

_Nora_ (_smiling and humming_). That's my affair! (_Walking about the
room_.) It's perfectly glorious to think that we have--that Torvald has
so much power over so many people. (_Takes the packet from her pocket_.)
Doctor Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?

_Rank_. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.

_Nora_. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.

_Mrs. Linde_. What! I?--

_Nora_. Oh, well, don't be alarmed! You couldn't know that Torvald had
forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil my
teeth. But, bah!--once in a way--That's so, isn't it, Doctor Rank? By
your leave! (_Puts a macaroon into his mouth.)_ You must have one too,
Christine. And I shall have one, just a little one--or at most two.
(_Walking about_.) I am tremendously happy. There is just one thing in
the world now that I should dearly love to do.

_Rank_. Well, what is that?

_Nora_. It's something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald could
hear me.

_Rank_. Well, why can't you say it?

_Nora_, No, I daren't; it's so shocking.

_Mrs. Linde_. Shocking?

_Rank_. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you
might. What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could hear

_Nora_. I should just love to say--Well, I'm damned!

_Rank_. Are you mad?

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora, dear--!

_Rank_. Say it, here he is!

_Nora_ (_hiding the packet_). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER _comes out of
his room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand_.)

_Nora_. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?

_Helmer_. Yes, he has just gone.

_Nora_. Let me introduce you--this is Christine, who has come to town.

_Helmer_. Christine--? Excuse me, but I don't know--

_Nora_. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.

_Helmer_. Of course. A school friend of my wife's, I presume?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, we have known each other since then.

_Nora_. And just think, she has taken a long journey in order to see

_Helmer_. What do you mean?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, really, I--

_Nora_. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping, and she is
frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to perfect

_Helmer_. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.

_Nora_. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the
Bank--the news was telegraphed, you know--she traveled here as quick as
she could, Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do something for
Christine, for my sake, won't you?

_Helmer_. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are a
widow, Mrs. Linde?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes.

_Helmer_. And have had some experience of bookkeeping?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, a fair amount.

_Helmer_. Ah! well it's very likely I may be able to find something for

_Nora_ (_clapping her hands_). What did I tell you? What did I tell you?

_Helmer_. You have just come at a fortunate moment, Mrs. Linde.

_Mrs. Linde_. How am I to thank you?

_Helmer_. There is no need. (_Puts on his coat_.) But today you must
excuse me--

_Rank_. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (_Brings his fur coat from
the hall and warms it at the fire_.)

_Nora_. Don't be long away, Torvald dear.

_Helmer_. About an hour, not more.

_Nora_. Are you going too, Christine?

_Mrs. Linde_ (_putting on her cloak_). Yes, I must go and look for a

_Helmer_. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.

_Nora_ (_helping her_). What a pity it is we are so short of space here;
I am afraid it is impossible for us--

_Mrs. Linde_. Please don't think of it! Good-bye, Nora dear, and many

_Nora_. Good-bye for the present. Of course you will come back this
evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you say? If you are well enough?
Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself up well. (_They go to the door all
talking together. Children's voices are heard on the staircase._)

_Nora_. There they are. There they are! (_She runs to open the door.
The_ NURSE _comes in with the children._) Come in! Come in! (_Stoops and
kisses them._) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them, Christine! Aren't
they darlings?

_Rank_. Don't let us stand here in the draught.

_Helmer_. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable for a
mother now!

(RANK, HELMER, _and_ MRS. LINDE _go downstairs. The_ NURSE _comes
forward with the children;_ NORA _shuts the hall door._)

_Nora_. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks!--like apples and
roses. (_The children all talk at once while she speaks to them._) Have
you had great fun? That's splendid! What, you pulled both Emmy and Bob
along on the sledge?--both at once?--that _was_ good. You are a clever
boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little, Anne. My sweet little baby
doll! (_Takes the baby from the_ MAID _and dances it up and down._) Yes,
yes, mother will dance with Bob too. What! Have you been snow-balling? I
wish I had been there too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne;
please let me do it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half frozen.
There is some hot coffee for you on the stove.

(_The_ NURSE _goes into the room on the left. Nora takes off the
children's things and throws them about, while they all talk to her at

_Nora._ Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn't bite you? No,
dogs don't bite nice little dolly children. You mustn't look at the
parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah, I daresay you would like to know. No,
no--it's something nasty! Come, let us have a game. What shall we play
at? Hide and Seek? Yes, we'll play Hide and Seek. Bob shall hide first.
Must I hide? Very well, I'll hide first. (_She and the children laugh
and shout, and romp in and out of the room; at last Nora hides under the
table the children rush in and look for her, but do not see her; they
hear her smothered laughter run to the table, lift up the cloth and find
her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends to frighten
them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock at the hall door,
but none of them has noticed it. The door is half opened, and KROGSTAD
appears. He waits a little; the game goes on._)

_Krogstad_. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.

_Nora_ (_with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to her knees_).
Ah! what do you want?

_Krogstad_. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose someone forgot
to shut it.

_Nora_ (_rising_). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.

_Krogstad_. I know that.

_Nora_. What do you want here, then?

_Krogstad_. A word with you.

_Nora_. With me?--(_To the children, gently_.) Go in to nurse. What? No,
the strange man won't do mother any harm. When he has gone we will have
another game. (_She takes the children into the room on the left, and
shuts the door after them._) You want to speak to me?

_Krogstad_. Yes, I do.

_Nora_. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.

_Krogstad_. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself what
sort of a Christmas you will spend.

_Nora_. What do you want? Today it is absolutely impossible for me--

_Krogstad_. We won't talk about that till later on. This is something
different. I presume you can give me a moment?

_Nora_. Yes--yes, I can--although--

_Krogstad_. Good. I was in Olsen's Restaurant and saw your husband going
down the street--

_Nora_. Yes?

_Krogstad_. With a lady.

_Nora_. What then?

_Krogstad_. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs. Linde?

_Nora_. It was.

_Krogstad_. Just arrived in town?

_Nora_. Yes, today.

_Krogstad_. She is a great friend of yours, isn't she?

_Nora_: She is. But I don't see--

_Krogstad_. I knew her too, once upon a time.

_Nora_. I am aware of that.

_Krogstad_. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought as much. Then I
can ask you, without beating about the bush--is Mrs. Linde to have an
appointment in the Bank?

_Nora_. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?--You, one of
my husband's subordinates! But since you ask, you shall know. Yes, Mrs.
Linde _is_ to have an appointment. And it was I who pleaded her cause,
Mr. Krogstad, let me tell you that.

_Krogstad_. I was right in what I thought, then.

_Nora_ (_walking up and down the stage_). Sometimes one has a tiny
little bit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman, it does
not necessarily follow that--. When anyone is in a subordinate position,
Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful to avoid offending anyone

_Krogstad_. Who has influence?

_Nora_. Exactly.

_Krogstad_ (_changing his tone_). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as to
use your influence on my behalf.

_Nora_. What? What do you mean?

_Krogstad_. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed to keep my
subordinate position in the Bank.

_Nora_. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post away
from you?

_Krogstad_. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence of
ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very anxious
to expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with me; and I
quite understand, too, whom I have to thank for being turned off.

_Nora_. But I assure you--

_Krogstad_. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time has come
when I should advise you to use your influence to prevent that.

_Nora_. But, Mr. Krogstad, I _have_ no influence.

_Krogstad_. Haven't you? I thought you said yourself just now--

_Nora_. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction on it. I!
What should make you think I have any influence of that kind with my

_Krogstad_. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I don't
suppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.

_Nora_. If you speak slightly of my husband, I shall turn you out of the

_Krogstad_. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.

_Nora_. I am not afraid of you any longer, As soon as the New Year
comes, I shall in a very short time be free of the whole thing.

_Krogstad_ (_controlling himself_). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If
necessary, I am prepared to fight for my small post in the Bank as if I
were fighting for my life.

_Nora_. So it seems.

_Krogstad_. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that
weighs least with me in the matter. There is another reason--well, I may
as well tell you. My position is this. I daresay you know, like
everybody else, that once, many years ago, I was guilty of an

_Nora_. I think I have heard something of the kind.

_Krogstad_. The matter never came into court; but every way seemed to be
closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you know of. I
had to do something; and, honestly, don't think I've been one of the
worst. But now I must cut myself free from all that. My sons are growing
up; for their sake I must try and win back as much respect as I can in
the town. This post in the Bank was like the first step up for me--and
now your husband is going to kick me downstairs again into the mud.

_Nora_. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my power to
help you at all.

_Krogstad_. Then it is because you haven't the will; but I have means to
compel you.

_Nora_. You don't mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you

_Krogstad_. Hm!--suppose I were to tell him?

_Nora_. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (_Sobbing_.) To think of
his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in such an
ugly, clumsy way--that he should learn it from you! And it would put me
in a horribly disagreeable position--

_Krogstad_. Only disagreeable?

_Nora_ (_impetuously_). Well, do it, then!--and it will be the worse for
you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you are, and you
certainly won't keep your post then.

_Krogstad_. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home that
you were afraid of?

_Nora_. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at once
pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more to do with

_Krogstad_ (_coming a step nearer_). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. Either
you have a very bad memory or you know very little of business. I shall
be obliged to remind you of a few details.

_Nora_. What do you mean?

_Krogstad_. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two
hundred and fifty pounds.

_Nora_. I didn't know any one else to go to.

_Krogstad_. I promised to get you that amount--

_Nora_. Yes, and you did so.

_Krogstad_. I promised to get you that amount, on certain conditions.
Your mind was so taken up with your husband's illness, and you were so
anxious to get the money for your journey, that you seem to have paid no
attention to the conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not be
amiss if I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money on the
security of a bond which I drew up.

_Nora_. Yes, and which I signed.

_Krogstad_. Good. But below your signature there were a few lines
constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your father
should have signed.

_Nora_. Should? He did sign them.

_Krogstad_. I had left the date blank; that is to say your father should
himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper. Do you
remember that?

_Nora_. Yes, I think I remember--

_Krogstad_. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your father. Is
that not so?

_Nora_. Yes.

_Krogstad_. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six days
afterwards you brought me the bond with your father's signature. And
then I gave you the money.

_Nora_. Well, haven't I been paying it off regularly?

_Krogstad_. Fairly so, yes. But--to come back to the matter in
hand--that must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs. Helmer?

_Nora_. It was, indeed.

_Krogstad_. Your father was very ill, wasn't he?

_Nora_. He was very near his end.

_Krogstad_. And died soon afterwards?

_Nora_. Yes.

_Krogstad_. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember what
day your father died?--on what day of the month, I mean.

_Nora_. Papa died on the 29th of September.

_Krogstad_. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And, as
that is so, there is a discrepancy (_taking a paper from his pocket_)
which I cannot account for.

_Nora_. What discrepancy? I don't know--

_Krogstad_. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that your
father signed this bond three days after his death.

_Nora_. What do you mean? I don't understand--

_Krogstad_. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look here;
your father dated his signature the 2nd of October. It is a discrepancy,
isn't it? (NORA _is silent_.) Can you explain it to me? (NORA _is still
silent_.) It is a remarkable thing, too, that the words "2nd of
October," as well as the year, are not written in your father's
handwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course it can be
explained; your father may have forgotten to date his signature, and
someone else may have dated it haphazard before they knew of his death.
There is no harm in that. It all depends on the signature of the name;
and _that_ is genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father
himself who signed his name here?

_Nora_ (_after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly at
him_). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa's name.

_Krogstad_. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?

_Nora_. In what way? You shall have your money soon.

_Krogstad_. Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the paper to
your father?

_Nora_. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for his
signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was to be used
for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn't tell him that my
husband's life was in danger--it was impossible.

_Krogstad_. It would have been better for you if you had given up your
trip abroad.

_Nora_. No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my husband's
life; I couldn't give that up.

_Krogstad_. But did it never occur to you that you were committing a
fraud on me?

_Nora_. I couldn't take that into account; I didn't trouble myself about
you at all. I couldn't bear you, because you put so many heartless
difficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous condition my
husband was in.

_Krogstad_. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what it is
that you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my one false
step, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more or nothing worse
than what you have done.

_Nora_. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to run
a risk to save your wife's life.

_Krogstad_. The law cares nothing about motives.

_Nora_. Then it must be a very foolish law.

_Krogstad_. Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will be judged,
if I produce this paper in court.

_Nora_. I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare her
dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be allowed to save her
husband's life? I don't know much about law; but I am certain that there
must be laws permitting such things as that. Have you no knowledge of
such laws--you who are a lawyer? You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr.

_Krogstad_. Maybe. But matters of business--such business as you and I
have had together--do you think I don't understand that? Very well. Do
as you please. But let me tell you this--if I lose my position a second
time, you shall lose yours with me. (_He bows, and goes out through the

_Nora_ (_appears buried in thought for a short time, then tosses her
head)_. Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!--I am not so silly as
he thinks. (_Begins to busy herself putting the children's things in
order_.) And yet--? No, it's impossible! I did it for love's sake.

_The Children_ (_in the doorway on the left.)_ Mother, the stranger man
has gone out through the gate.

_Nora_. Yes, dears, I know. But, don't tell anyone about the stranger
man. Do you hear? Not even papa.

_Children_. No, mother; but will you come and play again?

_Nora_. No no,--not now.

_ Children_. But, mother, you promised us.

_Nora_. Yes, but I can't now. Run away in; I have such a lot to do. Run
away in, sweet little darlings. (_She gets them into the room by degrees
and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the sofa, takes up a piece
of needlework and sews a few stitches, but soon stops_.) No! (_Throws
down the work, gets up, goes to the hall door and calls out_.) Helen,
bring the Tree in. (_Goes to the table on the left, opens a drawer, and
stops again_.) No, no! it is quite impossible!

_Maid_ (_coming in with the Tree_). Where shall I put it, ma'am?

_Nora_. Here, in the middle of the floor.

_Maid_. Shall I get you anything else?

_Nora_. No, thank you. I have all I want.

[_Exit_ MAID

_Nora_ (_begins dressing the tree_). A candle here--and flowers here--.
The horrible man! It's all nonsense--there's nothing wrong. The Tree
shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to please you,
Torvald!--I will sing for you, dance for you--(HELMER _comes in with
some papers under his arm_.) Oh! are you back already?

_Helmer_. Yes. Has anyone been here?

_Nora_. Here? No.

_Helmer_. That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the gate.

_Nora_. Did you? Oh yes, I forgot Krogstad was here for a moment.

_Helmer_. Nora, I can see from your manner that he has been here begging
you to say a good word for him.

_Nora_. Yes.

_Helmer_. And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you were
to conceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn't he beg that
of you too?

_Nora_. Yes, Torvald, but--

_Helmer_. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of thing? To
have any talk with a man like that, and give him any sort of promise?
And to tell me a lie into the bargain?

_Nora_. A lie--?

_Helmer_. Didn't you tell me no one had been here? (_Shakes his finger
at her_.) My little song-bird must never do that again. A song-bird must
have a clean beak to chirp with--no false notes! (_Puts his arm round
her waist._) That is so, isn't it? Yes, I am sure it is. (_Lets her
go_.) We will say no more about it. (_Sits down by the stove_.) How warm
and snug it is here! (_Turns over his papers_.)

_Nora_ (_after a short pause, during which she busies herself with the
Christmas Tree_). Torvald!

_Helmer_. Yes.

_Nora_: I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy dress ball at the
Stensborgs' the day after tomorrow.

_Helmer_. And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going to
surprise me with.

_Nora_. It was very silly of me to want to do that.

_Helmer_. What do you mean?

_Nora_. I can't hit upon anything that will do; everything I think of
seems so silly and insignificant.

_Helmer_. Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?

_Nora_ (_standing behind his chair with her arms on the back of it_).
Are you very busy, Torvald?

_Helmer_. Well--

_Nora_. What are all those papers?

_Helmer_. Bank business.

_Nora_. Already?

_Helmer_. I have got authority from the retiring manager to undertake
the necessary changes in the staff and in the rearrangement of the work;
and I must make use of the Christmas week for that, so as to have
everything in order for the new year.

_Nora_. Then that was why this poor Krogstad--

_Helmer_. Hm!

_Nora_ (_leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair_). If
you hadn't been so busy I should have asked you a tremendously big
favour, Torvald.

_Helmer_. What is that? Tell me.

_Nora_. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I do so want to
look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn't you take me in hand
and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of a dress I shall wear?

_Helmer_. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get someone to
come to her rescue?

_Nora_. Yes, Torvald, I can't get along a bit without your help.

_Helmer_ Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to hit upon

_Nora_. That _is_ nice of you. (_Goes to the Christmas Tree. A short
pause.)_ How pretty the red flowers look--. But, tell me, was it really
something very bad that this Krogstad was guilty of?

_Helmer_. He forged someone's name. Have you any idea what that means?

_Nora_. Isn't it possible that he was driven to do it by necessity?

_Helmer_. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am not so
heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false step
of that kind.

_Nora_. No you wouldn't, would you, Torvald?

_Helmer_. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he has
openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.

_Nora_. Punishment--?

_Helmer_. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out of
it by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether.

_Nora_. But do you think it would--?

_Helmer_. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play the
hypocrite with everyone, how he has to wear a mask in the presence of
those near and dear to him, even before his own wife and children. And
about the children--that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.

_Nora_. How?

_Helmer_. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the
whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is
full of the germs of evil.

_Nora_ (_coming nearer him_). Are you sure of that?

_Helmer_. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as a
lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a
deceitful mother.

_Nora_. Why do you only say--mother?

_Helmer_. It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence, though
naturally a bad father's would have the same result. Every lawyer is
familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been persistently
poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I
say he has lost all moral character. (_Holds out his hands to her.)_
That is why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to plead his cause.
Give me your hand on it. Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand.
There now, that's settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for
me to work with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the
company of such people.

_Nora_ (_takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of the
Christmas Tree_). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot to do.

_Helmer_ (_getting up and putting his papers in order_). Yes, and I must
try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must think about
your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have something ready in
gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (_Puts his hand on her head.)_ My
precious little singing-bird! (_He goes into his room and shuts the door
after him.)_

_Nora_ (_after a pause, whispers_). No, no--it isn't true. It's
impossible; it must be impossible.

(_The_ NURSE _opens the door on the left._)

_Nurse_. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come in to

_Nora_. No, no, no! Don't let them come in to me! You stay with them,

_Nurse_. Very well, ma'am. (_Shuts the door._)

_Nora_ (_pale with terror_). Deprave my little children? Poison my home?
(_A short pause. Then she tosses her head._) It's not true. It can't
possibly be true.


(THE SAME SCENE--_The Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano,
stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its
dishevelled branches._ NORA'S _cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She
is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and
takes up her cloak._)

_Nora_ (_drops the cloak_). Someone is coming now! (_Goes to the door
and listens._) No--it is no one. Of course, no one will come today,
Christmas Day--nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps--(_opens the door and
looks out_.) No, nothing in the letter-box; it is quite empty. (_Comes
forward._) What rubbish! of course he can't be in earnest about it. Such
a thing couldn't happen; it is impossible--I have three little children.

(_Enter the_ NURSE _from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboard

_Nurse_. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.

_Nora_. Thanks; put it on the table.

_Nurse_ (_doing so_). But it is very much in want of mending.

_Nora_. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.

_Nurse_. What an idea! It can easily be put in order--just a little

_Nora_. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with it.

_Nurse_. What, out again? In this horrible weather? You will catch cold,
ma'am, and make yourself ill.

_Nora_. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?

_Nurse_. The poor little souls are playing with their Christmas
presents, but--

_Nora_. Do they ask much for me?

_Nurse_. You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with them.

_Nora_. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with them now
as I was before.

_Nurse_. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.

_Nora_. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their mother if
she went away altogether?

_Nurse_. Good heavens!--went away altogether?

_Nora_. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often wondered
about--how could you have the heart to put your own child out among

_Nurse_. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora's nurse.

_Nora_. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?

_Nurse_. What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A poor
girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides, that wicked
man didn't do a single thing for me.

_Nora_. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.

_Nurse_. No, indeed she hasn't. She wrote to me when she was confirmed,
and when she was married.

_Nora_ (_putting her arms round her neck_). Dear old Anne, you were a
good mother to me when I was little.

_Nurse_. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me.

_Nora_. And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you
would--What nonsense I am talking! (_Opens the box._) Go in to them. Now
I must--. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.

_Nurse_. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as you,
ma'am. (_Goes into the room on the left._)

_Nora_ (_begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from her_).
If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only I could be
sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No
one will come. Only I mustn't think about it. I will brush my muff. What
lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts, out of my thoughts! One, two,
three, four, five, six--(_Screams._) Ah! there is someone coming--.
(_Makes a movement towards the door, but stands irresolute_.)

(_Enter_ MRS. LINDE _from the hall, where she has taken off her cloak
and hat_.)

_Nora_. Oh, it's you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is
there? How good of you to come!

_Mrs. Linde_. I heard you were up asking for me.

_Nora_. Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is something you
could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look here.
Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the Stenborgs',
who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a Neapolitan
fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learnt at Capri.

_Mrs. Linde_. I see; you are going to keep up the character.

_Nora_. Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had
it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven't any

_Mrs. Linde_. We will easily put that right. It is only some of the
trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then, that's
all we want.

_Nora_. It _is_ nice of you.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_sewing_). So you are going to be dressed up tomorrow,
Nora. I will tell you what--I shall come in for a moment and see you in
your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to thank you for a
delightful evening yesterday.

_Nora_ (_gets up, and crosses the stage_). Well I don't think yesterday
was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to town a little
earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does understand how to make a
house dainty and attractive.

_Mrs. Linde_. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your father's
daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always as depressed as
he was yesterday?

_Nora_. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that he
suffers from a _very_ dangerous disease. He has consumption of the
spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who committed all
sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was sickly from childhood, do
you understand?

_Mrs. Linde_ (_dropping her sewing_). But, my dearest Nora, how do you
know anything about such things?

_Nora_ (_walking about_). Pooh! When you have three children, you get
visits now and then from--from married women, who know something of
medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_goes on sewing. A short silence_). Does Doctor Rank come
here every day?

_Nora_. Every day regularly. He is Torvald's most intimate friend, and a
great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.

_Mrs. Linde_. But tell me this--is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn't
he the kind of a man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?

_Nora_. Not in the least. What makes you think that?

_Mrs. Linde_. When you introduced him to me yesterday, he declared he
had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I
noticed that your husband hadn't the slightest idea who I was. So how
could Doctor Rank--?

_Nora_. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond of
me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first he used
to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk at home, so
naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about such things with
Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.

_Mrs. Linde_. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child in
many ways, and I am older than you in many ways and have a little more
experience. Let me tell you this--you ought to make an end of it with
Doctor Rank.

_Nora_. What ought I to make an end of?

_Mrs. Linde_. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some nonsense
about a rich admirer who was to leave you money--

_Nora_. An admirer who doesn't exist, unfortunately! But what then?

_Mrs. Linde_. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?

_Nora_. Yes, he is.

_Mrs. Linde_. And has no one to provide for?

_Nora_. No, no one; but--

_Mrs. Linde_. And comes here every day?

_Nora_. Yes, I told you so.

_Mrs. Linde_. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?

_Nora_. I don't understand you at all.

_Mrs. Linde_. Don't prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I don't guess who
lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds.

_Nora_. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing! A
friend of ours, who comes here every day! Do you realise what a horribly
painful position that would be?

_Mrs. Linde_. Then it really isn't he?

_Nora_. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head for
a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into his money

_Mrs. Linde_. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.

_Nora_. No, it would never have come into my head to ask Doctor Rank.
Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him--

_Mrs. Linde_. But of course you won't.

_Nora_. Of course not. I have no reason to think it could possibly be
necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank--

_Mrs. Linde_. Behind your husband's back?

_Nora_. I must make an end of it with the other one, and that will be
behind his back too. I _must_ make an end of it with him.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but--

_Nora_ (_walking up and down_). A man can put a thing like that straight
much easier than a woman--

_Mrs. Linde_. One's husband, yes.

_Nora_. Nonsense! (_Standing still_.) When you pay off a debt you get
your bond back, don't you?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, as a matter of course.

_Nora_. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it
up--the nasty, dirty paper!

_Mrs. Linde_ (_looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and gets up
slowly_). Nora, you are concealing something from me.

_Nora_. Do I look as if I were?

_Mrs. Linde_. Something has happened to you since yesterday morning.
Nora, what is it?

_Nora_ (_going nearer to her_). Christine! (_Listens_.) Hush! there's
Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the present?
Torvald can't bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne help you.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_gathering some of the things together_). Certainly--but I
am not going away from here till we have had it out with one another.
(_She goes into the room, on the left, as Helmer comes in from, the

_Nora_ (_going up to_ HELMAR). I have wanted you so much, Torvald dear.

_Helmer_. Was that the dressmaker?

_Nora_. No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my dress in
order. You will see I shall look quite smart.

_Helmer_. Wasn't that a happy thought of mine, now?

_Nora_. Splendid! But don't you think it is nice of me, too, to do as
you wish?

_Helmer_. Nice?--because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, you
little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But I am not
going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your dress, I

_Nora_. I suppose you are going to work.

_Helmer_. Yes. (_Shows her a bundle of papers_.) Look at that. I have
just been into the bank. (_Turns to go into his room_.)

_Nora_. Torvald.

_Helmer_. Yes.

_Nora_. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, very

_Helmer_. What then?

_Nora_. Would you do it?

_Helmer_. I should like to hear what it is, first.

_Nora_. Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you would
be nice, and do what she wants.

_Helmer_. Speak plainly.

_Nora_. Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song
rising and falling--

_Helmer_. Well, my skylark does that anyhow.

_Nora_. I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight,

_Helmer_. Nora--you surely don't mean that request you made of me this

_Nora_ (_going near him_). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly--

_Helmer_. Have you really the courage to open up that question again?

_Nora_. Yes, dear, you _must_ do as I ask; you _must_ let Krogstad keep
his post in the bank.

_Helmer_. My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs. Linde
shall have.

_Nora._ Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could just
as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.

_Helmer._ This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to give
him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am expected

_Nora._ That isn't the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake. This
fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have told me so
yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm. I am frightened
to death of him--

_Helmer._ Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that scare

_Nora._ What do you mean?

_Helmer._ Naturally you are thinking of your father.

_Nora._ Yes--yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what these
malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how horribly
they slandered him. I believe they would have procured his dismissal if
the Department had not sent you over to inquire into it, and if you had
not been so kindly disposed and helpful to him.

_Helmer._ My little Nora, there is an important difference between your
father and me. Your father's reputation as a public official was not
above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to be so, as long
as I hold my office.

_Nora._ You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We
ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful home,
and have no cares--you and I and the children, Torvald! That is why I
beg you so earnestly--

_Helmer_. And it is just by interceding for him that you make it
impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank that I
mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the new manager
has changed his mind at his wife's bidding--

_Nora_. And what if it did?

_Helmer_. Of course!--if only this obstinate little person can get her
way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my whole
staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts of
outside influence? I should very soon feel the consequences of it, I can
tell you. And besides, there is one thing that makes it quite impossible
for me to have Krogstad in the bank as long as I am manager.

_Nora_. Whatever is that?

_Helmer_. His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked, if

_Nora_. Yes, you could--couldn't you?

_Helmer_. And, I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when we
were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often prove an
incubus in after life. I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on
very intimate terms with one another. But this tactless fellow lays no
restraint upon himself when other people are present. On the contrary,
he thinks it gives him the right to adopt a familiar tone with me, and
every minute it is "I say, Helmer, old fellow!" and that sort of thing.
I assure you it is extremely painful to me. He would make my position in
the bank intolerable.

_Nora_. Torvald, I don't believe you mean that.

_Helmer_. Don't you? Why not?

_Nora_. Because it is such a narrow-minded way of looking at things.

_Helmer_. What are you saying? Narrow-minded? Do you think I am

_Nora_. No, just the opposite, dear--and it is exactly for that reason.

_Helmer_. It's the same thing. You say my point of view is
narrow-minded, so I must be so, too. Narrow-minded! Very well--I must
put an end to this. (_Goes to the hall door and calls.)_ Helen!

_Nora_. What are you going to do?

_Helmer_ (_looking among his papers)_. Settle it. (_Enter_ MAID.) Look
here; take this letter and go downstairs with it at once. Find a
messenger and tell him to deliver it, and be quick. The address is on
it, and here is the money.

_Maid_. Very well, sir. (_Exit with the letter_.)

_Helmer_ (_putting his papers together_). Now, then, little Miss

_Nora_ (_breathlessly_). Torvald--what was that letter?

_Helmer_. Krogstad's dismissal.

_Nora_. Call her back, Torvald! There is still time. Oh Torvald, call
her back! Do it for my sake--for your own sake, for the children's sake!
Do you hear me, Torvald? Call her back! You don't know what that letter
can bring upon us.

_Helmer_. It's too late.

_Nora_. Yes, it's too late.

_Helmer_. My dear Nora, I can forgive the anxiety you are in, although
really it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn't it an insult to think
that I should be afraid of a starving quill-driver's vengeance? But I
forgive you, nevertheless, because it is such eloquent witness to your
great love for me. (_Takes her in his arms.)_ And that is as it should
be, my own darling Nora. Come what will, you may be sure I shall have
both courage and strength if they be needed. You will see I am man
enough to take everything upon myself.

_Nora_ (_in a horror-stricken voice_). What do you mean by that?

_Helmer_. Everything I say--

_Nora_ (_recovering herself_). You will never have to do that.

_Helmer_. That's right. Well, we will share it, Nora, as man and wife
should. That is how it shall be. (_Caressing her_.) Are you content now?
There! There!--not these frightened dove's eyes! The whole thing is only
the wildest fancy!--Now, you must go and play through the Tarantella and
practice with your tambourine. I shall go into the inner office and shut
the door, and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as you
please. (_Turns back at the door.)_ And when Rank comes, tell him where
he will find me. (_Nods to her, takes his papers and goes into his room,
and shuts the door after him_.)

_Nora_ (_bewildered with anxiety, stands as if rooted to the spot, and
whispers_). He was capable of doing it. He will do it. He will do it in
spite of everything.--No, not that! Never, never! Anything rather than
that! Oh, for some help, some way out of it. (_The door-bell rings_.)
Doctor Rank! Anything rather than that--anything, whatever it is! (_She
puts her hands over her face, pulls herself together, goes to the door
and opens it. _RANK_ is standing without, hanging up his coat. During
the following dialogue it begins to grow dark_.)

_Nora_. Good-day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you mustn't go into
Torvald now; I think he is busy with something.

_Rank_. And you?

_Nora_ (_brings him in and shuts the door after him_). Oh, you know very
well I always have time for you.

_Rank_. Thank you. I shall make use of as much of it as I can.

_Nora_. What do you mean by that? As much of it as you can.

_Rank_. Well, does that alarm you?

_Nora_. It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything likely to

_Rank_. Nothing but what I have long been prepared for. But I certainly
didn't expect it to happen so soon.

_Nora_ (_gripping him by the arm_). What have you found out? Doctor
Rank, you must tell me.

_Rank_ (_sitting down by the stove_). It is all up with me. And it can't
be helped.

_Nora_ (_with a sigh of relief_). Is it about yourself?

_Rank_. Who else? It is no use lying to one's self. I am the most
wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I have been taking
stock of my internal economy. Bankrupt! Probably within a month I shall
lie rotting in the church-yard.

_Nora_. What an ugly thing to say!

_Rank_. The thing itself is cursedly ugly, and the worst of it is that I
shall have to face so much more that is ugly before that. I shall only
make one more examination of myself; when I have done that, I shall know
pretty certainly when it will be that the horrors of dissolution will
begin. There is something I want to tell you. Helmer's refined nature
gives him an unconquerable disgust of everything that is ugly; I won't
have him in my sick-room.

_Nora_. Oh, but, Doctor Rank--

_Rank_. I won't have him there. Not on any account. I bar my door to
him. As soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I shall send
you my card with a black cross on it, and then you will know that the
loathsome end has begun.

_Nora_. You are quite absurd to-day. And I wanted you so much to be in a
really good humour.

_Rank_. With death stalking beside me?--To have to pay this penalty for
another man's sin! Is there any justice in that? And in every single
family, in one way or another, some such inexorable retribution is being

_Nora_ (_putting her hands over her ears_). Rubbish! Do talk of
something cheerful.

_Rank_. Oh, it's a mere laughing matter, the whole thing. My poor
innocent spine has to suffer for my father's youthful amusements.

_Nora_ (_sitting at the table on the left_). I suppose you mean that he
was too partial to asparagus and pate de foie gras, don't you?

_Rank_. Yes, and to truffles.

_Nora_. Truffles, yes. And oysters too, I suppose?

_Rank_. Oysters, of course, that goes without saying.

_Nora_. And heaps of port and champagne. It is sad that all these nice
things should take their revenge on our bones.

_Rank_. Especially that they should revenge themselves on the unlucky
bones of those who have not had the satisfaction of enjoying them.

_Nora_. Yes, that's the saddest part of it all.

_Rank_ (_with a searching look at her_). Hm!--

_Nora_ (_after a short pause_). Why did you smile?

_Rand_. No, it was you that laughed.

_Nora_. No, it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank!

_Rank_ (_rising_). You are a greater rascal than I thought.

_Nora_. I am in a silly mood today.

_Rank_. So it seems.

_Nora_ (_putting her hands on his shoulders_). Dear, dear Doctor Rank,
death mustn't take you away from Torvald and me.

_Rank_. It is a loss you would easily recover from. Those who are gone
are soon forgotten.

_Nora_ (_looking at him anxiously_). Do you believe that?

_Rank_. People form new ties, and then--

_Nora_. Who will form new ties?

_Rank_. Both you and Helmer, when I am gone. You yourself are already on
the high road to it, I think. What did that Mrs. Linde want here last

_Nora_. Oho!--you don't mean to say you are jealous of poor Christine?

_Rank_. Yes, I am. She will be my successor in this house. When I am
done for, this woman will--

_Nora_. Hush! don't speak so loud. She is in that room.

_Rank_. To-day again. There, you see.

_Nora_. She has only come to sew my dress for me. Bless my soul, how
unreasonable you are! (_Sits down on the sofa_.) Be nice now, Doctor
Rank, and to-morrow you will see how beautifully I shall dance, and you
can imagine I am doing it all for you--and for Torvald too, of course.
(_Takes various things out of the box._) Doctor Rank, come and sit down
here, and I will show you something.

_Rank_ (_sitting down_). What is it?

_Nora_. Just look at those.

_Rank_. Silk stockings.

_Nora_. Flesh-coloured. Aren't they lovely? It is so dark here now, but
to-morrow--. No, no, no! you must only look at the feet. Oh, well, you
may have leave to look at the legs too.

_Rank_. Hm!--

_Nora_. Why are you looking so critical? Don't you think they will fit

_Rank_. I have no means of forming an opinion about that.

_Nora_ (_looks at him for a moment_). For shame! (_Hits him lightly on
the ear with the stockings_.) That's to punish you. (_Folds them up

_Rank_. And what other nice things am I to be allowed to see?

_Nora_. Not a single thing more, for being so naughty. (_She looks among
the things, humming to herself_.)

_Rank_ (_after a short silence_). When I am sitting here, talking to you
as intimately as this, I cannot imagine for a moment what would have
become of me if I had never come into this house.

_Nora_ (_smiling_). I believe you do feel thoroughly at home with us.

_Rank_ (_in a lower voice, looking straight in front of him_). And to be
obliged to leave it all--

_Nora_. Nonsense, you are not going to leave it.

_Rank_ (_as before_). And not be able to leave behind one the slightest
token of one's gratitude, scarcely even a fleeting regret--nothing but
an empty place which the first comer can fill as well as any other.

_Nora_. And if I asked you now for a--? No!

_Rank_. For what?

_Nora_. For a big proof of your friendship--

_Rank_. Yes, yes.

_Nora_. I mean a tremendously big favour--

_Rank_. Would you really make me so happy for once?

_Nora_. Ah, but you don't know what it is yet.

_Rank_. No--but tell me.

_Nora_. I really can't, Doctor Rank. It is something out of all reason;
it means advice, and help, and a favour--

_Rank_. The bigger a thing it is the better. I can't conceive what it is
you mean. Do tell me. Haven't I your confidence?

_Nora_. More than anyone else. I know you are my truest and best friend,
and so I will tell you what it is. Well, Doctor Rank, it is something
you must help me to prevent. You know how devotedly, how inexpressibly
deeply Torvald loves me; he would never for a moment hesitate to give
his life for me.

_Rank_ (_leaning toward her_). Nora--do you think he is the only one--?

_Nora_ (_with a slight start_). The only one--?

_Rank_. The only one who would gladly give his life for your sake.

_Nora_ (_sadly_). Is that it?

_Rank_. I was determined you should know it before I went away, and
there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know it,
Nora. And now you know, too, that you can trust me as you would trust no
one else.

_Nora_ (_rises deliberately and quietly_). Let me pass.

_Rank_ (_makes room for her to pass him, but sits still_). Nora!

_Nora_ (_at the hall door_). Helen, bring in the lamp. (_Goes over to
the stove_.) Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid of you.

_Rank_. To have loved you as much as anyone else does? Was that horrid?

_Nora_. No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no need--

_Rank_. What do you mean? Did you know--? (MAID _enters with lamp, puts
it down on the table, and goes out_.) Nora--Mrs. Helmer--tell me, had
you any idea of this?

_Nora_. Oh, how do I know whether I had or whether I hadn't. I really
can't tell you--To think you could be so clumsy, Doctor Rank! We were
getting on so nicely.

_Bank_. Well, at all events you know now that you can command me, body
and soul. So won't you speak out?

_Nora_ (_looking at him_). After what happened?

_Rank_. I beg you to let me know what it is.

_Nora_. I can't tell you anything now.

_Rank_. Yes, yes. You mustn't punish me in that way. Let me have
permission to do for you whatever a man may do.

_Nora_. You can do nothing for me now. Besides, I really don't need any
help at all. You will find that the whole thing is merely fancy on my
part. It really is so--of course it is! (_Sits down in the
rocking-chair, and looks at him with a smile_.) You are a nice sort of
man, Doctor Rank!--don't you feel ashamed of yourself, now the lamp has

_Rank_. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--forever?

_Nora_. No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come here just as
before. You know very well Torvald can't do without you.

_Rank_. Yes, but you?

_Nora_. Oh, I am always tremendously pleased when you come.

_Rank_. It is just that, that put me on the wrong track. You are a
riddle to me. I have often thought that you would almost as soon be in
my company as in Helmer's.

_Nora_. Yes--you see there are some people one loves best, and others
whom one would almost always rather have as companions.

_Rank_. Yes, there is something in that.

_Nora_. When I was at home, of course I loved papa best. But I always
thought it tremendous fun if I could steal down into the maids' room,
because they never moralized at all, and talked to each other about such
entertaining things.

_Rank_. I see--it is their place I have taken.

_Nora_ (_jumping-up and going to him_). Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I
never meant that at all. But surely you can understand that being with
Torvald is a little like being with papa--(_Enter_ MAID _from the hall_.)

_Maid_. If you please, ma'am. (_Whispers and hands her a card_.)

_Nora_ (_glancing at the card_). Oh! (_Puts it in her pocket_.)

_Rank_. Is there anything wrong?

_Nora_. No, no, not in the least. It is only something--It is my new

_Rank_. What? Your dress is lying there.

_Nora_. Oh, yes, that one; but this is another. I ordered it. Torvald
mustn't know about it--

_Rank_. Oho! Then that was the great secret.

_Nora_. Of course. Just go in to him; he is sitting in the inner room.
Keep him as long as--

_Rank_. Make your mind easy; I won't let him escape. (_Goes into_
HELMER'S _room_.)

_Nora_ (_to the_ MAID). And he is standing waiting in the kitchen?

_Maid_. Yes; he came up the back stairs.

_Nora_. But didn't you tell him no one was in?

_Maid_. Yes, but it was no good.

_Nora_. He won't go away?

_Maid_. No; he says he won't until he has seen you, ma'am.

_Nora_. Well, let him come in--but quietly. Helen, you mustn't say
anything about it to any one. It is a surprise for my husband.

_Maid_. Yes, ma'am, I quite understand. (_Exit_.)

_Nora_. This dreadful thing is going to happen. It will happen in spite
of me! No, no, no, it can't happen--it shan't happen! (_She bolts the
door of_ HELMER'S _room. The_ MAID _opens the hall door for_ KROGSTAD
_and shuts it after him. He is wearing a fur coat, high boots and a fur

_Nora_ (_advancing towards him_). Speak low--my husband is at home.

_Krogstad_. No matter about that.

_Nora_. What do you want of me?

_Krogstad_. An explanation of something.

_Nora_. Make haste then. What is it?

_Krogstad_. You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.

_Nora_. I couldn't prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard as I could
on your side, but it was no good.

_Krogstad_. Does your husband love you so little, then? He knows what I
can expose you to, and yet he ventures--

_Nora_. How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of the sort?

_Krogstad_. I didn't suppose so at all. It would not be the least like
our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage--

_Nora_. Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.

_Krogstad_. Certainly--all the respect he deserves. But since you have
kept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make bold to suppose that
you have a little clearer idea than you had yesterday, of what it
actually is that you have done?

_Nora_. More than you could ever teach me.

_Krogstad_. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am.

_Nora_. What is it you want of me?

_Krogstad_. Only to see how you were, Mrs. Helmer. I have been thinking
about you all day long. A mere cashier--a quill-driver, a--well, a man
like me--even he has a little of what is called feeling, you know.

_Nora_. Show it, then; think of my little children.

_Krogstad_. Have you and your husband thought of mine? But never mind
about that. I only wanted to tell you that you need not take this matter
too seriously. In the first place there will be no accusation made on my

_Nora_. No, of course not; I was sure of that.

_Krogstad_. The whole thing can be arranged amicably; there is no reason
why anyone should know anything about it. It will remain a secret
between us three.

_Nora_. My husband must never get to know anything about it.

_Krogstad_. How will you be able to prevent it? Am I to understand that
you can pay the balance that is owing?

_Nora_. No, not just at present.

_Krogstad_. Or perhaps that you have some expedient for raising the
money soon?

_Nora_. No expedient that I mean to make use of.

_Krogstad_. Well, in any case, it would have been of no use to you now.
If you stood there with ever so much money in your hand, I would never
part with your bond.

_Nora_. Tell me what purpose you mean to put it to.

_Krogstad_. I shall only preserve it--keep it in my possession. No one
who is not concerned in the matter shall have the slightest hint of it.
So that if the thought of it has driven you to any desperate

_Nora_. It has.

_Krogstad_. If you had it in your mind to run away from your home--

_Nora_. I had.

_Krogstad_. Or even something worse--

_Nora_. How could you know that?

_Krogstad_. Give up the idea.

_Nora_. How did you know I had thought of _that?_

_Krogstad_. Most of us think of that at first. I did, too--but I hadn't
the courage.

_Nora_ (_faintly_). No more had I.

_Krogstad_ (_in a tone of relief)_. No, that's it, isn't it--you hadn't
the courage either?

_Nora_. No, I haven't--I haven't.

_Krogstad_. Besides, it would have been a great piece of folly. Once the
first storm at home is over--. I have a letter for your husband in my

_Nora_. Telling him everything?

_Krogstad_. In as lenient a manner as I possibly could.

_Nora_ (_quickly)_. He mustn't get the letter. Tear it up. I will find
some means of getting money.

_Krogstad_. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer, but I think I told you just how--

_Nora_. I am not speaking of what I owe you. Tell me what sum you are
asking my husband for, and I will get the money.

_Krogstad_. I am not asking your husband for a penny.

_Nora_. What do you want, then?

_Krogstad_. I will tell you. I want to rehabilitate myself, Mrs. Helmer;
I want to get on; and in that your husband must help me. For the last
year and a half I have not had a hand in anything dishonourable, and all
that time I have been struggling in most restricted circumstances. I was
content to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I am
not going to be satisfied with merely being taken into favour again. I
want to get on, I tell you. I want to get into the Bank again, in a
higher position. Your husband must make a place for me--

_Nora_. That he will never do!

_Krogstad_. He will; I know him; he dare not protest. And as soon as I
am in there again with him, then you will see! Within a year I shall be
the manager's right hand. It will be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald
Helmer who manages the Bank.

_Nora_. That's a thing you will never see!

_Krogstad_. Do you mean that you will--?

_Nora_. I have courage enough for it now.

_Krogstad_. Oh, you can't frighten me. A fine, spoilt lady like you--

_Nora_. You will see, you will see.

_Krogstad_. Under the ice, perhaps? Down into the cold, coal-black
water? And then, in the spring, to float up to the surface, all horrible
and unrecognizable, with your hair fallen out--

_Nora_. You can't frighten me.

_Krogstad_. Nor you me. People don't do such things, Mrs. Helmer.
Besides, what use would it be? I should have him completely in my power
all the same.

_Nora_. Afterwards? When I am no longer--

_Krogstad_. Have you forgot that it is I who have the keeping of your
reputation? (_Nora stands speechlessly looking at him.)_ Well, now, I
have warned you. Do not do anything foolish. When Helmer has had my
letter, I shall expect a message from him. And be sure you remember that
it is your husband himself who has forced me into such ways as this
again. I will never forgive him for that. Good-bye, Mrs. Helmer. (_Exit
through the hall.)_

_Nora_ (_goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens_). He is
going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh, no, no, that's
impossible! (_Opens the door by degrees._) What is that? He is standing
outside. He is not going downstairs. Is he hesitating? Can he--? (_A
letter drops into the box; then_ KROGSTAD'S _footsteps are heard, till
they die away as he goes downstairs._ NORA _utters a stifled cry, and
runs across the room to the table by the sofa. A short pause_.)

_Nora_. In the letter-box. (_Steals across to the hall-door_.) There it
lies--Torvald, Torvald, there is no hope for us now!

(MRS. LINDE _comes in from the room on the left, carrying the dress_.)

_Mrs. Linde_. There, I can't see anything more to mend now. Would you
like to try it on--?

_Nora_ (_in a hoarse whisper_). Christine, come here.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_throwing the dress down on the sofa_). What is the matter
with you? You look so agitated!

_Nora_. Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look--you can see it
through the glass in the letter-box.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, I see it.

_Nora_. That letter is from Krogstad.

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora--it was Krogstad who lent you the money!

_Nora_. Yes, and now Torvald will know all about it.

_Mrs. Linde_. Believe me, Nora, that's the best thing for both of you.

_Nora_. You don't know all. I forged a name.

_Mrs. Linde_. Good heavens--!

_Nora_. I only want to say this to you, Christine--you must be my witness.

_Mrs. Linde_. Your witness! What do you mean? What am I to--?

_Nora_. If I should go out of my mind--and it might easily happen--

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora!

_Nora_. Or if anything else should happen to me--anything, for instance,
that might prevent my being here--

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.

_Nora_. And if it should happen that there were someone who wanted to
take all the responsibility, all the blame, you understand--

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, yes--but how can you suppose--?

_Nora_. Then you must be my witness, that it is not true, Christine. I
am not out of my mind at all; I am in my right senses now, and I tell
you no one else has known anything about it; I and I alone, did the
whole thing. Remember that.

_Mrs. Linde_. I will, indeed. But I don't understand all this.

_Nora_. How should you understand it? A wonderful thing is going to

_Mrs. Linde_. A wonderful thing?

_Nora_. Yes, a wonderful thing!--But it is so terrible, Christine; it
_mustn't_ happen, not for all the world.

_Mrs. Linde_. I will go at once and see Krogstad.

_Nora_. Don't go to him; he will do you some harm.

_Mrs. Linde_. There was a time when he would gladly do anything for my

_Nora_. He?

_Mrs. Linde_. Where does he live?

_Nora_. How should I know--? Yes (_feeling in her pocket_) here is his
card. But the letter, the letter--!

_Helmer_ (_calls from his room, knocking at the door_). Nora.

_Nora_ (_cries out anxiously_). Oh, what's that? What do you want?

_Helmer_. Don't be so frightened. We are not coming in; you have locked
the door. Are you trying on your dress?

_Nora_. Yes, that's it. I look so nice, Torvald.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_who has read the card_) I see he lives at the corner

_Nora_. Yes, but it's no use. It is hopeless. The letter is lying there
in the box.

_Mrs. Linde_. And your husband keeps the key?

_Nora_. Yes, always.

_Mrs. Linde_. Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread, he must find
some pretence--

_Nora_. But it is just at this time that Torvald generally--

_Mrs. Linde_. You must delay him. Go in to him in the meantime. I will
come back as soon as I can. (_She goes out hurriedly through the hall

_Nora_ (_goes to_ HELMER'S _door, opens it and peeps in_). Torvald!

_Helmer_ (_from the inner room_). Well? May I venture at last to come
into my own room again? Come along, Rank, now you will see--(_ Halting
in the doorway_.) But what is this?

_Nora_. What is what, dear?

_Helmer_. Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.

_Rank_ (_in the doorway_). I understood so, but evidently I was

_Nora_. Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my dress
until to-morrow.

_Helmer_. But, my dear Nora, you look so worn out. Have you been
practising too much?

_Nora_. No, I have not practised at all.

_Helmer_. But you will need to--

_Nora_. Yes, indeed I shall, Torvald. But I can't get on a bit without
you to help me; I have absolutely forgotten the whole thing.

_Helmer_. Oh, we will soon work it up again.

_Nora_. Yes, help me, Torvald. Promise that you will! I am so nervous
about it--all the people--. You must give yourself up to me entirely
this evening. Not the tiniest bit of business--you mustn't even take a
pen in your hand. Will you promise, Torvald dear?

_Helmer_. I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely at
your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way, first of all I
will just--(_Goes toward the hall-door_.)

_Nora_. What are you going to do there?

_Helmer_. Only see if any letters have come.

_Nora_. No, no! don't do that, Torvald!

_Helmer_. Why not?

_Nora_. Torvald, please don't. There is nothing there.

_Helmer_. Well, let me look. (_Turns to go to the letter-box._ NORA, _at
the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella_. HELMER _stops in the
doorway_.) Aha!

_Nora_. I can't dance to-morrow if I don't practise with you.

_Helmer_ (_going up to her_). Are you really so afraid of it, dear?

_Nora_. Yes, so dreadfully afraid of it. Let me practise at once; there
is time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down and play for me, Torvald
dear; criticise me, and correct me as you play.

_Helmer_. With great pleasure, if you wish me to. (_Sits down at the

_Nora_ (_takes out of the box a tambourine and a long variegated shawl.
She hastily drapes the shawl round her. Then she springs to the front of
the stage and calls out_). Now play for me! I am going to dance!

(HELMER _plays and_ NORA _dances_. RANK _stands by the piano behind_
HELMER, _and looks on_.)

_Helmer_ (_as he plays_). Slower, slower!

_Nora_. I can't do it any other way.

_Helmer_. Not so violently, Nora!

_Nora_. This is the way.

_Helmer_ (_stops playing_). No, no--that is not a bit right.

_Nora_ (_laughing and swinging the tambourine_). Didn't I tell you so?

_Rank_. Let me play for her.

_Helmer_ (_getting up_). Yes, do. I can correct her better then.

(RANK _sits down at the piano and plays. Nora dances more and more
wildly_. HELMER _has taken up a position beside the stove, and during
her dance gives her frequent instructions. She does not seem to hear
him; her hair comes down and falls over her shoulders; she pays no
attention to it, but goes on dancing. Enter_ MRS. LINDE.)

_Mrs. Linde_ (_standing as if spell-bound in the doorway_). Oh!--

_Nora_ (_as she dances_). Such fun, Christine!

_Helmer_. My dear darling Nora, you are dancing as if your life depended
on it.

_Nora_. So it does.

_Helmer_. Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you. (RANK
_stops playing, and,_ NORA _suddenly stands still_. HELMER _goes up to
her._) I could never have believed it. You have forgotten everything I
taught you.

_Nora_ (_throwing away the tambourine_). There, you see.

_Helmer_. You will want a lot of coaching.

_Nora_. Yes, you see how much I need it. You must coach me up to the
last minute. Promise me that, Torvald!

_Helmer_. You can depend on me.

_Nora_. You must not think of anything but me, either to-day or
to-morrow; you mustn't open a single letter--not even open the

_Helmer_. Ah, you are still afraid of that fellow----

_Nora_. Yes, indeed I am.

_Helmer_. Nora, I can tell from your looks that there is a letter from
him lying there.

_Nora_. I don't know; I think there is; but you must not read anything
of that kind now. Nothing horrid must come between us till this is all

_Rank_ (_whispers to_ HELMER). You mustn't contradict her.

_Helmer_ (_taking her in his arms_). The child shall have her way. But
to-morrow night, after you have danced--

_Nora_. Then you will be free. (_The_ MAID _appears in the doorway to
the right_.)

_Maid_. Dinner is served, ma'am.

_Nora_. We will have champagne, Helen.

_Maid_. Very good, ma'am.

_Helmer_. Hullo!--are we going to have a banquet? (_Exit._)

_Nora_. Yes, a champagne banquet till the small hours. (_Calls out_.)
And a few macaroons, Helen--lots, just for once!

_Helmer_. Come, come, don't be so wild and nervous. Be my own little
skylark, as you used.

_Nora_. Yes, dear, I will. But go in now and you too, Doctor Rank.
Christine, you must, help me to do up my hair.

_Rank_ (_whispers to_ HELMER _as they go out_). I suppose there is
nothing--she is not expecting anything?

_Helmer_. Far from it, my dear fellow; it is simply nothing more than
this childish nervousness I was telling you of. (_They go into the
right-hand room_.)

_Nora_. Well!

_Mrs. Linde_. Gone out of town.

_Nora_. I could tell from your face.

_Mrs. Linde_. He is coming home tomorrow evening. I wrote a note for

_Nora_. You should have let it alone; you must prevent nothing. After
all, it is splendid to be waiting for a wonderful thing to happen.

_Mrs. Linde_. What is it that you are waiting for?

_Nora_, Oh, you wouldn't understand. Go in to them. I will come in a
moment. (MRS. LINDE _goes into the dining-room._ NORA _stands still for
a little while, as if to compose herself. Then she looks at her watch_.)
Five o'clock. Seven hours till midnight; and then four-and-twenty hours
till the next midnight. Then the Tarantella will be over. Twenty-four
and seven? Thirty-one hours to live.

_Helmer_ (_from the doorway on the right_). Where's my little skylark?

_Nora_ (_going to him with her arms out-stretched_). Here she is!


(THE SAME SCENE--_The table has been placed in the middle of the stage,
with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The door into the
hall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room above_. MRS. LINDE
_is sitting at the table idly turning over the leaves of a book; she
tries to read, but does not seem able to collect her thoughts. Every now
and then she listens intently for a sound at the outer door_.)

_Mrs. Linde_ (_looking at her watch_). Not yet--and the time is nearly
up. If only he does not--. (_Listens again_.) Ah, there he is. (_Goes
into the hall and opens the outer door carefully. Light footsteps are
heard on the stairs. She whispers_.) Come in. There is no one here.

_Krogstad_ (_in the doorway_). I found a note from you at home. What
does this mean?

_Mrs. Linde_. It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk with

_Krogstad_. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should be

_Mrs. Linde_. It is impossible where I live; there is no private
entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is asleep,
and the Helmers are at the dance upstairs.

_Krogstad_ (_coming into the room_). Are the Helmers really at a dance

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, why not?

_Krogstad_. Certainly--why not?

_Mrs. Linde_. Now, Nils, let us have a talk.

_Krogstad_. Can we two have anything to talk about?

_Mrs. Linde_. We have a great deal to talk about.

_Krogstad_. I shouldn't have thought so.

_Mrs. Linde_. No, you have never properly understood me.

_Krogstad_. Was there anything else to understand except what was
obvious to all the world--a heartless woman jilts a man when a more
lucrative chance turns up.

_Mrs. Linde_. Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as all that?
And do you believe that I did it with a light heart?

_Krogstad_. Didn't you?

_Mrs. Linde_. Nils, did you really think that?

_Krogstad_. If it were as you say, why did you write to me as you did at
the time?

_Mrs. Linde_. I could do nothing else. As I had to break with you, it
was my duty also to put an end to all that you felt for me.

_Krogstad_ (_wringing his hands_). So that was it. And all this--only
for the sake of money.

_Mrs. Linde_. You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and two
little brothers. We couldn't wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemed
hopeless then.

_Krogstad_. That may be so, but you had no right to throw me over for
any one else's sake.

_Mrs. Linde_. Indeed I don't know. Many a time did I ask myself if I had
a right to do it.

_Krogstad_ (_more gently_). When I lost you, it was as if all the solid
ground went from under my feet. Look at me now--I am a shipwrecked man
clinging to a bit of wreckage.

_Mrs. Linde_. But help may be near.

_Krogstad_. It _was_ near; but then you came and stood in my way.

_Mrs. Linde_. Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I learnt it
was your place I was going to take in the bank.

_Krogstad_. I believe you, if you say so. But now that you know it, are
you not going to give it up to me?

_Mrs. Linde_. No, because that would not benefit you in the least.

_Krogstad_. Oh, benefit, benefit--I would have done it whether or no.

_Mrs. Linde_. I have learnt to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter
necessity have taught me that.

_Krogstad_. And life has taught me not to believe in fine speeches.

_Mrs. Linde_. Then life has taught you something very reasonable. But
deeds you must believe in?

_Krogstad_. What do you mean by that?

_Mrs. Linde_. You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to some

_Krogstad_. I had good reason to say so.

_Mrs. Linde_. Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to some
wreckage--no one to mourn for, no one to care for.

_Krogstad_. It was your own choice.

_Mrs. Linde_. There was no other choice, then.

_Krogstad_. Well, what now?

_Mrs. Linde_. Nils, how would it be if we two shipwrecked people could
join forces?

_Krogstad_. What are you saying?

_Mrs. Linde_. Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a better
chance than each on their own.

_Krogstad_. Christine!

_Mrs. Linde_. What do you suppose brought me to town?

_Krogstad_. Do you mean that you gave me a thought?

_Mrs. Linde_. I could not endure life without work. All my life, as long
as I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest and only
pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world--my life is so dreadfully
empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasure in working
for one's self. Nils, give me someone and something to work for.

_Krogstad_. I don't trust that. It is nothing but a woman's overstrained
sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an offer of your self.

_Mrs. Linde_. Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in me?

_Krogstad_. Could you really do it? Tell me--do you know all about my
past life?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes.

_Krogstad_. And do you know what they think of me here?

_Mrs. Linde_. You seemed to me to imply that with me you might have been
quite another man.

_Krogstad_. I am certain of it.

_Mrs. Linde_. Is it too late now?

_Krogstad_. Christine, are you saying this deliberately? Yes, I am sure
you are. I see it in your face. Have you really the courage, then--?

_Mrs. Linde_. I want to be a mother to someone, and your children need a
mother. We two need each other. Nils, I have faith in your real
character--I can dare anything together with you.

_Krogstad_ (_grasps her hands_). Thanks, thanks, Christine! Now I shall
find a way to clear myself in the eyes of the world. Ah, but I forgot--

_Mrs. Linde_ (_listening_). Hush! The Tarantella! Go, go!

_Krogstad_. Why? What is it?

_Mrs. Linde_. Do you hear them up there? When that is over, we may
expect them back.

_Krogstad_. Yes, yes--I will go. But it is all no use. Of course you are
not aware what steps I have taken in the matter of the Helmers.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, I know all about that.

_Krogstad_. And in spite of that have you the courage to--?

_Mrs. Linde_. I understand very well to what lengths a man like you
might be driven by despair.

_Krogstad_. If I could only undo what I have done!

_Mrs. Linde_. You cannot. Your letter is lying in the letter-box now.

_Krogstad_. Are you sure of that?

_Mrs. Linde_. Quite sure, but--

_Krogstad_ (_with a searching look at her_). Is that what it all
means?--that you want to save your friend at any cost? Tell me frankly.
Is that it?

_Mrs. Linde_. Nils, a woman who has once sold herself for another's
sake, doesn't do it a second time.

_Krogstad_. I will ask for my letter back.

_Mrs. Linde_. No, no.

_Krogstad_. Yes, of course I will. I will wait here till Helmer comes; I
will tell him he must give me my letter back--that it only concerns my
dismissal--that he is not to read it--

_Mrs. Linde_. No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.

_Krogstad._ But, tell me, wasn't it for that very purpose that you asked
me to meet you here?

_Mrs. Linde_. In my first moment of fright, it was. But twenty-four
hours have elapsed since then, and in that time I have witnessed
incredible things in this house. Helmer must know all about it. This
unhappy secret must be enclosed; they must have a complete understanding
between them, which is impossible with all this concealment and
falsehood going on.

_Krogstad_. Very well, if you will take the responsibility. But there is
one thing I can do in any case, and I shall do it at once.

_Mrs. Linde_ (_listening_). You must be quick and go! The dance is over;
we are not safe a moment longer.

_Krogstad_. I will wait for you below.

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, do. You must see me back to my door.

_Krogstad_. I have never had such an amazing piece of good fortune in my
life! (_Goes out through the outer door. The door between the room and
the hall remains open_.)

_Mrs. Linde_ (_tidying up the room and laying her hat and cloak ready_).
What a difference! What a difference! Someone to work for and live
for--a home to bring comfort into. That I will do, indeed. I wish they
would be quick and come. (_Listens._) Ah, there they are now. I must put
on my things. (_Takes up her hat and cloak_. HELMER'S _and_ NORA'S
_voices are heard outside; a key is turned, and_ HELMER _brings_ NORA
_almost by force into the hall. She is in an Italian costume with a
large black shawl round her; he is in evening dress, and a black domino
which is flying open_.)

_Nora_ (_hanging back in the doorway, and struggling with him_). No, no,
no!--don't take me in. I want to go upstairs again; I don't want to
leave so early.

_Helmer_. But, my dearest Nora--

_Nora_. Please, Torvald dear--please, _please_--only an hour more.

_Helmer_. Not a single minute, my sweet Nora. You know that was our
agreement. Come along into the room; you are catching cold standing
there. (_He brings her gently into the room, in spite of her

_Mrs. Linde_. Good evening.

_Nora_. Christine!

_Helmer_. You here, so late, Mrs. Linde?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, you must excuse me; I was so anxious to see Nora in
her dress.

_Nora_. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, unfortunately I came too late, you had already gone
upstairs; and I thought I couldn't go away again without having seen

_Helmer_ (_taking off_ NORA'S _shawl_). Yes, take a good look at her. I
think she is worth looking at. Isn't she charming, Mrs. Linde?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, indeed she is.

_Helmer_. Doesn't she look remarkably pretty? Everyone thought so at the
dance. But she is terribly self-willed, this sweet little person. What
are we to do with her? You will hardly believe that I had almost to
bring her away by force.

_Nora_. Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay, even if it were
only for half an hour.

_Helmer_. Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her Tarantella, and
it had been a tremendous success, as it deserved--although possibly the
performance was a trifle too realistic--little more so, I mean, than
was strictly compatible with the limitations of art. But never mind
about that! The chief thing is, she had made a success--she had made a
tremendous success. Do you think I was going to let her remain there
after that, and spoil the effect? No, indeed! I took my charming little
Capri maiden--my capricious little Capri maiden, I should say--on my
arm; took one quick turn round the room; a curtsey on either side, and,
as they say in novels, the beautiful apparition disappeared. An exit
ought always to be effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot make
Nora understand. Pooh! this room is hot. (_Throws his domino on a chair,
and opens the door of his room_.) Hullo! it's all dark in here. Oh, of
course--excuse me--. (_He goes in, and lights some candles_.)

_Nora_ (_in a hurried and breathless whisper_). Well?

_Mrs. Linde._ (_in a low voice_). I have had a talk with him.

_Nora._ Yes, and--

_Mrs. Linde_. Nora, you must tell your husband all about it.

_Nora_ (_in an expressionless voice_). I knew it.

_Mrs. Linde._ You have nothing to be afraid of as far as Krogstad is
concerned; but you must tell him.

_Nora_. I won't tell him.

_Mrs. Linde_. Then the letter will.

_Nora_. Thank you, Christine. Now I know what I must do. Hush--!

_Helmer_ (_coming in again_). Well, Mrs. Linde, have you admired her?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, and now I will say good-night.

_Helmer_. What, already? Is this yours, this knitting?

_Mrs. Linde_ (_taking it_). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten

_Helmer_. So you knit?

_Mrs. Linde_. Of course.

_Helmer_. Do you know, you ought to embroider?

_Mrs. Linde_. Really? Why?

_Helmer_. Yes, it's far more becoming. Let me show you. You hold the
embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with the
right--like this--with a long, easy sweep. Do you see?

_Mrs. Linde_. Yes, perhaps--

_Helmer_. But in the case of knitting--that can never be anything but
ungraceful; look here--the arms close together, the knitting-needles
going up and down--it has a sort of Chinese effect--. That was really
excellent champagne they gave us.

_Mrs. Linde_. Well,--good-night, Nora, and don't be self-willed any

_Helmer_. That's right, Mrs. Linde.

_Mrs. Linde_. Good-night, Mr. Helmer.

_Helmer_ (_accompanying her to the door_). Good-night, good-night. I
hope you will get home all right. I should be very happy to--but you
haven't any great distance to go. Good-night, good-night. (_She goes
out; he shuts the door after her and comes in again_.) Ah!--at last we
have got rid of her. She is a frightful bore, that woman.

_Nora_. Aren't you very tired, Torvald?

_Helmer_. No, not in the least.

_Nora_. Nor sleepy?

_Helmer_. Not a bit. On the contrary, I feel extraordinarily lively. And
you?--you really look both tired and sleepy.

_Nora_. Yes, I am very tired. I want to go to sleep at once.

_Helmer_. There, you see it was quite right of me not to let you stay
there any longer.

_Nora_. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.

_Helmer_ (_kissing her on the forehead_). Now my little skylark is
speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good spirits Rank was in this

_Nora_. Really? Was he? I didn't speak to him at all.

_Helmer_. And I very little, but I have not for a long time seen him in
such good form. (_Looks for a while at her and then goes nearer to
her_.) It is delightful to be at home by ourselves again, to be all
alone with you--you fascinating, charming little darling!

_Nora_. Don't look at me like that, Torvald.

_Helmer_. Why shouldn't I look at my dearest treasure?--at all the
beauty that is mine, all my very own?

_Nora_ (_going to the other side of the table_). You mustn't say things
like that to me tonight.

_Helmer_ (_following her_). You have still got the Tarantella in your
blood, I see. And it makes you more captivating than ever. Listen--the
guests are beginning to go now. (_In a lower voice_.) Nora--soon the
whole house will be quiet.

_Nora_. Yes, I hope so.

_Helmer_. Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I am out at a
party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away from
you, and only send a stolen glance in your direction now and then?--do
you know why I do that? It is because I make believe to myself that we
are secretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride, and that
no one suspects there is anything between us.

_Nora_. Yes, yes--I know very well your thoughts are with me all the

_Helmer_. And when we are leaving, and I am putting the shawl over your
beautiful young shoulders--on your lovely neck--then I imagine that you
are my young bride and that we have just come from the wedding, and I am
bringing you for the first time into our home--to be alone with you for
the first time--quite alone with my shy little darling! All this evening
I have longed for nothing but you. When I watched the seductive figures
of the Tarantella, my blood was on fire; I could endure it no longer,
and that was why I brought you down so early--

_Nora_. Go away, Torvald! You must let me go. I won't--

_Helmer_. What's that? You're joking, my little Nora! You won't--you
won't? Am I not your husband--? (_A knock is heard at the outer door_.)

_Nora_ (_starting_). Did you hear--?

_Helmer_ (_going into the hall_). Who is it?

_Rank_ (_outside_). It is I. May I come in for a moment?

_Helmer_ (_in a fretful whisper_). Oh, what does he want now? (_Aloud_.)
Wait a minute? (_Unlocks the door_.) Come, that's kind of you not to
pass by our door.

_Rank_. I thought I heard your voice, and felt as if I should like to
look in. (_With a swift glance round_.) Ah, yes!--these dear familiar
rooms. You are very happy and cosy in here, you two.

_Helmer_. It seems to me that you looked after yourself pretty well
upstairs too.

_Rank_. Excellently. Why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't one enjoy everything
in this world?--at any rate as much as one can, and as long as one can.
The wine was capital--

_Helmer_. Especially the champagne.

_Rank_. So you noticed that too? It is almost incredible how much I
managed to put away!

_Nora_. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne tonight, too.

_Rank_. Did he?

_Nora_. Yes, and he is always in such good spirits afterwards.

_Rank_. Well, why should one not enjoy a merry evening after a
well-spent day?

_Helmer_. Well spent? I am afraid I can't take credit for that.

_Rank_ (_clapping him on the back_). But I can, you know!

_Nora_. Doctor Rank, you must have been occupied with some scientific
investigation today.

_Rank_. Exactly.

_Helmer_. Just listen!--little Nora talking about scientific

_Nora_. And may I congratulate you on the result?

_Rank_. Indeed you may.

_Nora_. Was it favourable, then.

_Rank_. The best possible, for both doctor and patient--certainty.

_Nora_ (_quickly and searchingly_). Certainty?

_Rank_. Absolute certainty. So wasn't I entitled to make a merry evening
of it after that?

_Nora_. Yes, you certainly were, Doctor Rank.

_Helmer_. I think so too, so long as you don't have to pay for it in the

_Rank_. Oh well, one can't have anything in this life without paying for

_Nora_. Doctor Rank--are you fond of fancy-dress balls?

_Rank_. Yes, if there is a fine lot of pretty costumes.

_Nora_. Tell me--what shall we two wear at the next?

_Helmer_. Little featherbrain!--are you thinking of the next already?

_Rank_. We two? Yes, I can tell you. You shall go as a good fairy--

_Helmer_. Yes, but what do you suggest as an appropriate costume for

_Rank_. Let your wife go dressed just as she is in every-day life.

_Helmer_. That was really very prettily turned. But can't you tell us
what you will be?

_Rank_. Yes, my dear friend, I have quite made up my mind about that.

_Helmer_. Well?

_Rank_. At the next fancy-dress ball I shall be invisible.

_Helmer_ That's a good joke!

_Rank_. There is a big black hat--have you never heard of hats that make
you invisible? If you put one on, no one can see you.

_Helmer_ (_suppressing a smile_). Yes, you are quite right.

_Rank_. But I am clean forgetting what I came for. Helmer, give me a
cigar--one of the dark Havanas.

_Helmer_. With the greatest pleasure. (_Offers him his case_.)

_Rank_ (_takes a cigar and cuts off the end_). Thanks.

_Nora_ (_striking a match_). Let me give you a light.

_Rank_. Thank you. (_She holds the match for him to light his cigar_.)
And now good-bye!

_Helmer_. Good-bye, good-bye, dear old man!

_Nora_. Sleep well, Doctor Rank.

_Rank_. Thank you for that wish.

_Nora_. Wish me the same.

_Rank_. You? Well, if you want me to sleep well! And thanks for the
light. (_He nods to them both and goes out_.)

_Helmer_ (_in a subdued voice_). He has drunk more than he ought.

_Nora_ (_absently_). Maybe. (HELMER _takes a bunch of keys out of his
pocket and goes into the hall_.) Torvald! what are you going to do

_Helmer_. Empty the letter-box; it is quite full; there will be no room
to put the newspaper in to-morrow morning.

_Nora._ Are you going to work to-night?

_Helmer_. You know quite well I'm not. What is this? Some one has been
at the lock.

_Nora_. At the lock?

_Helmer_. Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should never have
thought the maid--. Here is a broken hairpin. Nora, it is one of yours.

_Nora_ (_quickly_). Then it must have been the children--

_Helmer_. Then you must get them out of those ways. There, at last I
have got it open. (_Takes out the contents of the letter-box, and calls
to the kitchen_.) Helen!--Helen, put out the light over the front door.
(_Goes back into the room and shuts the door into the hall. He holds out
his hand full of letters_.) Look at that--look what a heap of them there
are. (_Turning them over_.) What on earth is that?

_Nora_ (_at the window_). The letter--No! Torvald, no!

_Helmer._ Two cards--of Rank's.

_Nora._ Of Doctor Rank's?

_Helmer_ (_looking at them_). Doctor Rank. They were on the top. He must
have put them in when he went out.

_Nora._ Is there anything written on them?

_Helmer._ There is a black cross over the name. Look there--what an
uncomfortable idea! It looks as If he were announcing his own death.

_Nora._ It is just what he is doing.

_Helmer._ What? Do you know anything about it? Has he said anything to

_Nora._ Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would be his
leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die.

_Helmer._ My poor old friend. Certainly I knew we should not have him
very long with us. But so soon! And so he hides himself away like a
wounded animal.

_Nora._ If it has to happen, it is best it should be without a
word--don't you think so, Torvald?

_Helmer_ (_walking up and down_). He has so grown into our lives. I
can't think of him as having gone out of them. He, with his sufferings
and his loneliness, was like a cloudy background to our sunlit
happiness. Well, perhaps it is best so. For him, anyway. (_Standing
still._) And perhaps for us too, Nora. We two are thrown quite upon each
other now. (_Puts his arms around her._) My darling wife, I don't feel
as if I could hold you tight enough. Do you know, Nora, I have often
wished that you might be threatened by some great danger, so that I
might risk my life's blood, and everything, for your sake.

_Nora_ (_disengages herself, and says firmly and decidedly_). Now you
must read your letters, Torvald.

_Helmer._ No, no; not tonight. I want to be with you, my darling wife.

_Nora._ With the thought of your friend's death--

_Helmer._ You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly has
come between us--the thought of the horrors of death. We must try and
rid our minds of that. Until then--we will each go to our own room.

_Nora_ (_hanging on his neck_). Good-night, Torvald--Good-night!

_Helmer_ (_kissing her on the forehead_). Good-night, my little
singing-bird. Sleep sound, Nora. Now I will read my letters through.
(_He takes his letters and goes into his room, shutting the door after

_Nora_ (_gropes distractedly about, seizes_ HELMER'S _domino, throws it
round her, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic whispers_). Never
to see him again. Never! Never! (_Puts her shawl over her head._) Never
to see my children again either--never again. Never! Never!--Ah! the
icy, black water--the unfathomable depths--If only it were over! He has
got it now--now he is reading it. Good-bye, Torvald and my children!
(_She is about to rush out through the hall, when_ HELMER _opens his
door hurriedly and stands with an open letter in his hand._)

_Helmer._ Nora!

_Nora._ Ah!--

_Helmer._ What is this? Do you know what is in this letter?

_Nora._ Yes, I know. Let me go! Let me get out!

_Helmer_ (_holding her back_). Where are you going?

_Nora_ (_trying to get free_). You shan't save me, Torvald!

_Helmer_ (_reeling_). True? Is this true, that I read here? Horrible!
No, no--it is impossible that it can be true.

_Nora._ It is true. I have loved you above everything else in the world.

_Helmer._ Oh, don't let us have any silly excuses.

_Nora_ (_taking a step towards him_). Torvald--!

_Helmer._ Miserable creature--what have you done?

_Nora._ Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You shall not take
it upon yourself.

_Helmer._ No tragedy airs, please. (_Locks the hall door._) Here you
shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you have
done? Answer me? Do you understand what you have done?

_Nora_ (_looks steadily at him and says with a growing look of coldness
in her face_). Yes, now I am beginning to understand thoroughly.

_Helmer_ (_walking about the room_). What a horrible awakening! All
these eight years--she who was my joy and pride--a hypocrite, a
liar--worse, worse--a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it all!--For
shame! For shame! (NORA _is silent and looks steadily at him. He stops
in front of her._) I ought to have suspected that something of the sort
would happen. I ought to have foreseen it. All your father's want of
principle--be silent!--all your father's want of principle has come out
in you. No religion, no morality, no sense of duty--How I am punished
for having winked at what he did! I did it for your sake, and this is
how you repay me.

_Nora._ Yes, that's just it.

_Helmer._ Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined
all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an
unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything he likes
of me, give me any orders he pleases--I dare not refuse. And I must sink
to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!

_Nora._ When I am out of the way, you will be free.

_Helmer._ No fine speeches, please. Your father had always plenty of
those ready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out of the
way, as you say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair known
everywhere; and if he does, I may be falsely suspected of having been
a party to your criminal action. Very likely people will think I was
behind it all--that it was I who prompted you! And I have to thank you
for all this--you whom I have cherished during the whole of our married
life. Do you understand now what it is you have done for me?

_Nora_ (_coldly and quietly_). Yes.

_Helmer._ It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must come
to some understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I tell you. I
must try and appease him some way or another. The matter must be hushed
up at any cost. And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything
between us were as before--but naturally only in the eyes of the world.
You will still remain in my house, that is a matter of course. But I
shall not allow you to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to
you. To think that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have
loved so dearly, and whom I still--. No, that is all over. From this
moment happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save
the remains, the fragments, the appearance--

(_A ring is heard at the front-door bell._)

_Helmer_ (_with a start_). What is that? So late! Can the worst--? Can
he--? Hide yourself, Nora. Say you are ill.

(NORA _stands motionless._ HELMER _goes and unlocks the hall door._)

_Maid_ (_half-dressed, comes to the door_). A letter for the mistress.

_Helmer._ Give it to me. (_Takes the letter, and shuts the door._) Yes,
it is from him. You shall not have it; I will read it myself.

_Nora._ Yes, read it.

_Helmer_ (_standing by the lamp_). I scarcely have the courage to do it.
It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must know. (_Tears open the
letter, runs his eye over a few lines, looks at a paper enclosed, and
gives a shout of joy._) Nora! (_She looks at him, questioningly._) Nora!
No, I must read it once again--. Yes, it is true! I am saved! Nora, I am

_Nora._ And I?

_Helmer._ You too, of course; we are both saved, both saved, both you
and I. Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he regrets and
repents--that a happy change in his life--never mind what he says! We
are saved, Nora! No one can do anything to you. Oh, Nora, Nora!--no,
first I must destroy these hateful things. Let me see--. (_Takes a look
at the bond._) No, no, I won't look at it. The whole thing shall be
nothing but a bad dream to me. (_Tears up the bond and both letters,
throws them all into the stove, and watches them burn._) There--now it
doesn't exist any longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you--. These
must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.

_Nora._ I have fought a hard fight these three days.

_Helmer._ And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but--. No, we won't
call any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with joy, and keep
saying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to me, Nora. You don't
seem to realise that it is all over. What is this?--such a cold, set
face! My poor little Nora, I quite understand; you don't feel as if you
could believe that I have forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear
it; I have forgiven you everything. I know that what you did, you did
out of love for me.

_Nora._ That is true.

_Helmer._ You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only
you had not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But do
you suppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't
understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean on
me; I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if this
womanly helplessness did not just give you a double attractiveness in my
eyes. You must not think any more about the hard things I said in my
first moment of consternation, when I thought everything was going to
overwhelm me. I have forgiven you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgiven

_Nora._ Thank you for your forgiveness. (_She goes out through the door
to the right._)

_Helmer._ No, don't go--. (_Looks in._) What are you doing in there?

_Nora_ (_from within_). Taking off my fancy dress.

_Helmer_ (_standing at the open door_). Yes, do. Try and calm yourself,
and make your mind easy again, my frightened little singing-bird. Be at
rest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under. (_Walks
up and down by the door._) How warm and cosy our home is, Nora. Here is
shelter for you; here I will protect you like a hunted dove that I have
saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring peace to your poor beating
heart. It will come, little by little, Nora, believe me. To-morrow
morning you will look upon it all quite differently; soon everything
will be just as it was before. Very soon you won't need me to assure you
that I have forgiven you; you will yourself feel the certainty that I
have done so. Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing as
repudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no idea what a true
man's heart is like, Nora. There is something so indescribably sweet and
satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge that he has forgiven his
wife--forgiven her freely, and with all his heart. It seems as if that
had made her, as it were, doubly his own; he has given her a new life,
so to speak; and she is in a way become both wife and child to him. So
you shall be for me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have
no anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me, and I
will serve as will and conscience both to you--. What is this? Not gone
to bed? Have you changed your things?

_Nora_ (_in everyday dress_). Yes, Torvald, I have changed my things

_Helmer._ But what for?--so late as this.

_Nora._ I shall not sleep tonight.

_Helmer._ But, my dear Nora--

_Nora_ (_looking at her watch_). It is not so very late. Sit down here,
Torvald. You and I have much to say to one another. (_She sits down at
one side of the table_.)

_Helmer._ Nora--what is this?--this cold, set face?

_Nora._ Sit down. It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over with

_Helmer_ (_sits down at the opposite side of the table_). You alarm me,
Nora!--and I don't understand you.

_Nora._ No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have never
understood you either--before tonight. No, you mustn't interrupt me. You
must simply listen to what I say. Torvald, this is a settling of

_Helmer._ What do you mean by that?

_Nora_ (_after a short silence_). Isn't there one thing that strikes you
as strange in our sitting here like this?

_Helmer._ What is that?

_Nora._ We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur to you
that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, have
had a serious conversation?

_Helmer._ What do you mean by serious?

_Nora._ In all these eight years--longer than that--from the very
beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on any
serious subject.

_Helmer._ Was it likely that I would be continually and forever telling
you about worries that you could not help me to bear?

_Nora._ I am not speaking about business matters. I say that we have
never sat down in earnest together to try and get at the bottom of

_Helmer._ But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to you?

_Nora._ That is just it; you have never understood me. I have been
greatly wronged, Torvald--first by papa and then by you.

_Helmer._ What! By us two--by us two, who have loved you better than
anyone else in in the world?

_Nora_ (_shaking her head_). You have never loved me. You have only
thought it pleasant to be in love with me.

_Helmer._ Nora, what do I hear you saying?

_Nora._ It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with papa, he
told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions;
and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not
have liked it. He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just
as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live with you--

_Helmer._ What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?

_Nora_ (_undisturbed_). I mean that I was simply transferred from papa's
hands into yours. You arranged everything according to your own taste,
and so I got the same tastes as you--or else I pretended to, I am really
not quite sure which--I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other.
When I look back on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like
a poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely to perform
tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have
committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made
nothing of my life.

_Helmer_. How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have you
not been happy here?

_Nora_. No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has never
really been so.

_Helmer_. Not--not happy!

_Nora_. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our
home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just
as at home I was papa's doll-child; and here the children have been my
dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they
thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage
has been, Torvald.

_Helmer_. There is some truth in what you say--exaggerated and strained
as your view of it is. But for the future it shall be different.
Playtime shall be over, and lesson-time shall begin.

_Nora_. Whose lessons? Mine, or the children's?

_Helmer_. Both yours and the children's, my darling Nora.

_Nora_. Alas, Torvald, you are not the man to educate me into being a
proper wife for you.

_Helmer_. And you can say that!

_Nora_. And I--how am I fitted to bring up the children?

_Helmer_. Nora!

_Nora_. Didn't you say so yourself a little while ago--that you dare not
trust me to bring them up?

_Helmer_. In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed to that?

_Nora_. Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for the task.
There is another task I must undertake first. I must try and educate
myself--you are not the man to help me in that. I must do that for
myself. And that is why I am going to leave you now.

_Helmer_ (_springing up_). What do you say?

_Nora_. I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand myself and
everything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain with you
any longer.

_Helmer_. Nora, Nora!

_Nora_. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure Christine will
take me in for the night--

_Helmer_. You are out of your mind! I won't allow it! I forbid you!

_Nora_. It is no use forbidding me anything any longer. I will take with
me what belongs to myself. I will take nothing from you, either now or

_Helmer_. What sort of madness is this!

_Nora_. Tomorrow I shall go home--I mean to my old home. It will be
easiest for me to find something to do there.

_Helmer_. You blind, foolish woman!

_Nora_. I must try and get some sense, Torvald.

_Helmer_. To desert your home, your husband and your children! And you
don't consider what people will say!

_Nora_. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is necessary
for me.

_Helmer_. It's shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacred

_Nora_. What do you consider my most sacred duties?

_Helmer_. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your
husband and your children?

_Nora_. I have other duties just as sacred.

_Helmer_. That you have not. What duties could those be?

_Nora_. Duties to myself.

_Helmer_. Before all else, you are a wife and mother.

_Nora_. I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all else
I am a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all events, that
I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people
would think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in
books; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say, or
with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get
to understand them.

_Helmer_. Can you not understand your place in your own home? Have you
not a reliable guide in such matters as that?--have you no religion?

_Nora_. I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is.

_Helmer_. What are you saying?

_Nora_. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went to be
confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that, and the other.
When I am away from all this, and am alone, I will look into that matter
too. I will see if what the clergyman said is true, or at all events if
it is true for me.

_Helmer_. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion
cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I suppose
you have some moral sense? Or--answer me--am I to think you have none?

_Nora_. I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question to answer.
I really don't know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only know that
you and I look at it in quite a different light. I am learning, too,
that the law is quite another thing from what I supposed; but I find it
impossible to convince myself that the law is right. According to it a
woman has no right to spare her old dying father, or to save her
husband's life. I can't believe that.

_Helmer_. You talk like a child. You don't understand the conditions of
the world in which you live.

_Nora_. No, I don't. But now I am going to try. I am going to see if I
can make out who is right, the world or I.

_Helmer_. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you are
out of your mind.

_Nora_. I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as to-night.

_Helmer_. And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake your
husband and your children?

_Nora_. Yes, it is.

_Helmer_. Then there is only one possible explanation.

_Nora_. What is that?

_Helmer_. You do not love me any more.

_Nora_. No, that is just it.

_Helmer_. Nora!--and you can say that?

_Nora_. It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always been so
kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.

_Helmer_ (_regaining his composure_). Is that a clear and certain
conviction too?

_Nora_. Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I will
not stay here any longer.

_Helmer_. And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit your love?

_Nora_. Yes, indeed I can. It was to-night, when the wonderful thing did
not happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you.

_Helmer_. Explain yourself better--I don't understand you.

_Nora_. I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness knows,
I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every day. Then this
horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt quite certain that the
wonderful thing was going to happen at last. When Krogstad's letter was
lying out there, never for a moment did I imagine that you would consent
to accept this man's conditions. I was so absolutely certain that you
would say to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that
was done--

_Helmer_. Yes, what then?--when I had exposed my wife to shame and

_Nora_. When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would come
forward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the guilty one.

_Helmer_. Nora--!

_Nora_. You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice on
your part? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have been
worth against yours? That was the wonderful thing which I hoped for and
feared; and it was to prevent that, that I wanted to kill myself.

_Helmer_. I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora--bear sorrow
and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the
one he loves.

_Nora_. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.

_Helmer_. Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.

_Nora_. Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I could bind
myself to. As soon as your fear was over--and it was not fear for what
threatened me, but for what might happen to you--when the whole thing
was past, as far as you were concerned it was exactly as if nothing at
all had happened. Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your
doll, which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care, because
it was so brittle and fragile. (_Getting up_.) Torvald--it was then it
dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living here with a
strange man, and had borne him three children--. Oh! I can't bear to
think of it! I could tear myself into little bits!

_Helmer_ (_sadly_). I see, I see. An abyss has opened between us--there
is no denying it. But, Nora, would it not be possible to fill it up?

_Nora_. As I am now, I am no wife for you.

_Helmer_. I have it in me to become a different man.

_Nora_. Perhaps--if your doll is taken away from you.

_Helmer_. But to part!--to part from you! No, no, Nora, I can't
understand that idea.

_Nora_ (_going out to the right_). That makes it all the more certain
that it must be done. (_She comes back with her cloak and hat and a
small bag which she puts on a chair by the table_.)

_Helmer_. Nora, Nora, not now! Wait till tomorrow.

_Nora_ (_putting on her cloak_). I cannot spend the night in a strange
man's room.

_Helmer_. But can't we live here like brother and sister--?

_Nora_ (_putting on her hat_). You know very well that would not last
long. (_Puts the shawl round her_.) Good-bye, Torvald. I won't see the
little ones. I know they are in better hands than mine. As I am now, I
can be of no use to them.

_Helmer_. But some day, Nora--some day?

_Nora_. How can I tell? I have no idea what is going to become of me.

_Helmer_. But you are my wife, whatever becomes of you.

_Nora_. Listen, Torvald. I have heard that when a wife deserts her
husband's house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all
obligations towards her. In any case I set you free from all your
obligations. You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest way,
any more than I shall. There must be perfect freedom on both sides.
See, here is your ring back. Give me mine.

_Helmer_. That too?

_Nora_. That too.

_Helmer_. Here it is.

_Nora_. That's right. Now it is all over. I have put the keys here.
The maids know all about everything in the house--better than I do.
Tomorrow, after I have left her, Christine will come here and pack up
my own things that I brought with me from home. I will have them sent
after me.

_Helmer_. All over! All over!--Nora, shall you never think of me again?

_Nora_. I know I shall often think of you and the children and this

_Helmer_. May I write to you, Nora?

_Nora_. No--never. You must not do that.

_Helmer_. But at least let me send you--

_Nora_. Nothing--nothing--

_Helmer_. Let me help you if you are in want.

_Nora_. No. I can receive nothing from a stranger.

_Helmer_. Nora--can I never be anything more than a stranger to you?

_Nora_ (_taking her bag_). Ah, Torvald, the most wonderful thing of all
would have to happen.

_Helmer_. Tell me what that would be!

_Nora_. Both you and I would have to be so changed that--. Oh, Torvald,
I don't believe any longer in wonderful things happening.

_Helmer_. But I will believe in it. Tell me? So changed that--?

_Nora_. That our life together would be a real wedlock. Good-bye. (_She
goes out through the hall_.)

_Helmer_ (_sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in his
hands_). Nora! Nora! (_Looks round, and rises_.) Empty. She is gone. (_A
hope flashes across his mind_.) The most wonderful thing of all--?

(_The sound of a door shutting is heard from below_.)

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Doll's House" ***

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