A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen.

Translated by R. Farquharson Sharp.


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Dramatis Personae

The action takes place in Helmer’s house.

A Doll’s House

Act I

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 walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a small bookcase 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 outdoor 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 until 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 economise.
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 until 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 things.
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 were.
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 all 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 until 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 doubt.
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 it?
Nora It’s wonderful!
Helmer Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until 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 spent!
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 travelling 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 recognise 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 armchair; 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 possible?
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 it?
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 learned 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, crotchet 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 it?
Mrs. Linde Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have the money.
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 Italy?
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, then?
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 themselves.
Nora What a relief you must feel if⁠—
Mrs. Linde No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one to live for anymore. Gets up restlessly. That was 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 lookout 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 superior.
Mrs. Linde No?
Nora You are just like 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 troubles.
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 anyone. 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 brothers?
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, but⁠—
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, hm! 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 imprudent?
Nora Sits up straight. Is it imprudent to save your husband’s life?
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 husband?
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—someday, 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 installments, 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 Torvald.
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. Helmer; 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 Bank.
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 of.
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 you?
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 you.
Helmer What do you mean?
Mrs. Linde No, really, I⁠—
Nora Christine is tremendously clever at bookkeeping, and she is frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to perfect herself⁠—
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 travelled 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 you⁠—
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 room.
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! Goodbye, Nora dear, and many thanks.
Nora Goodbye 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 snowballing? 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 once.
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 out 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 mean? Today it is absolutely impossible for me⁠—
Krogstad We won’t talk about that until 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 who⁠—who⁠—
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 husband?
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 slightingly of my husband, I shall turn you out of the house.
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 indiscretion.
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, I 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 money?
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 you.
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 anyone 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 .
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 . But, look here; your father has dated his signature the . 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 “,” 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.
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 hall.
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, my 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 songbird must never do that again. A songbird 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 Stenborgs’ 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 something.
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 mamma.
Nora No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay with them, Anne.
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.

Act II

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.

Nora’s is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.
Nora Drops her 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 letterbox; 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 box.
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 patience.
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 strangers?
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 learned 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 idea⁠—
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 everyday?
Nora Everyday 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 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 things, 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 everyday?
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 everyday! 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 afterwards.
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 until we have had it out with one another. She goes into the room on the left, as Helmer comes in from the hall.
Nora Going up to Helmer. 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 expect.
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 prettily⁠—?
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, Torvald.
Helmer Nora⁠—you surely don’t mean that request you made to me this morning?
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 to⁠—
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 you.
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 necessary⁠—
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 afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly, we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this tactless fellow lays no restraint on 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 for 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 narrow-minded?
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 Obstinate.
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 practise 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 doorbell 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 in to 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 happen?
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 churchyard.
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 at everything that is ugly; I won’t have him in my sickroom.
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 today. 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 exacted⁠—
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?
Rank 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 night?
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 Today 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 tomorrow 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 tomorrow⁠—. 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 me?
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 again.
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 towards 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.
Rank 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 come?
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 moralised 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 dress⁠—
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 anyone. 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 cap.
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 part.
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 resolution⁠—
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 pocket.
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 now⁠—
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, amid 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 unrecognisable, 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 forgotten 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. Goodbye, 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, until 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 happen!
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 sake.
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 here.
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 door.
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 mistaken.
Nora Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my dress until tomorrow.
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 towards 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 tomorrow 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 piano.
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 spellbound 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 today or tomorrow; you mustn’t open a single letter⁠—not even open the letter box⁠—
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 until this is all over.
Rank Whispers to Helmer. You mustn’t contradict her.
Helmer Taking her in his arms. The child shall have her way. But tomorrow 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. Exit.
Helmer Hullo!⁠—are we going to have a banquet?
Nora Yes, a champagne banquet until 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 him.
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 until midnight; and then four-and-twenty hours until 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 outstretched. Here she is!


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 you.
Krogstad Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should be here?
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 tonight?
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 anyone else’s sake.
Mrs. Linde Indeed I don’t know. Many a time did I ask myself if I had the 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 learned 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 learned 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 wreckage.
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 I⁠ ⁠…
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 yourself.
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 until 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 disclosed; 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 around 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 resistance.
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 you.
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—a 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 goodnight.
Helmer What, already? Is this yours, this knitting?
Mrs. Linde Taking it. Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.
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—goodnight, Nora, and don’t be self-willed any more.
Helmer That’s right, Mrs. Linde.
Mrs. Linde Goodnight, Mr. Helmer.
Helmer Accompanying her to the door. Goodnight, goodnight. I hope you will get home all right. I should be very happy to⁠—but you haven’t any great distance to go. Goodnight, goodnight. 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 evening?
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 time.
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 investigations!
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 morning.
Rank Oh well, one can’t have anything in this life without paying for it.
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 that?
Rank Let your wife go dressed just as she is in everyday 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 goodbye!
Helmer Goodbye, goodbye, 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 there?
Helmer Emptying the letter box; it is quite full; there will be no room to put the newspaper in tomorrow morning.
Nora Are you going to work tonight?
Helmer You know quite well I’m not. What is this? Someone 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 you?
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 had 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 round 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. Goodnight, Torvald⁠—Goodnight!
Helmer Kissing her on the forehead. Goodnight, 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 him.
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. Goodbye, 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 tragic 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 just 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 saved!
Nora And I?
Helmer You too, of course; we are 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 anymore 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 you.
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. Tomorrow 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 has 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 now.
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 you.
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 accounts.
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 anything.
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 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 later.
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 duties.
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 a 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 tonight.
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 anymore.
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 tonight, when the wonderful thing did not happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you were.
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 disgrace?
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 until 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. Goodbye, 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, the children, and this house.
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. Goodbye. 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.


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A Doll’s House
was published in 1879 by
Henrik Ibsen.
It was translated from Danish in 1910 by
R. Farquharson Sharp.

This ebook was produced for
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Asher Smith,
and is based on a transcription produced in 2001 by
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The cover page is adapted from
Dolls’ House of Petronella Oortman,
a painting completed around 1710 by
Jacob Appel.
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