(SCENE.--A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but notextravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to theentrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study. Between thedoors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, andbeyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, arm-chairs anda 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 chairsand 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 book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and afire 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 dressand carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to theright. She leaves the outer door open after her, and through it is seena PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket, which he givesto the MAID who has opened the door.)
Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the childrendo not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER,taking out her purse.) How much?
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 shetakes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from herpocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's doorand listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table onthe right.)
Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering outthere?
Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!
Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?
Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?
Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes hermouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.
Helmer. Don't disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looksinto the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Hasmy little spendthrift been wasting money again?
Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves goa little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed toeconomise.
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 tinywee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots ofmoney.
Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarterbefore the salary is due.
Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.
Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.) Thesame little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty poundstoday, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on NewYear's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and--Nora (putting herhands 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 Iowed 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 theywere.
Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I thinkabout that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beautyabout a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have keptbravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way forthe 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 herwings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (Taking outhis 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 knowwhat a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-time?
Nora (counting). Ten shillings--a pound--two pounds! Thank you, thankyou, 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 havebought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, anda sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and dolly'sbedstead for Emmy,--they are very plain, but anyway she will soon breakthem in pieces. And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for themaids; 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, whatwould 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 wouldparticularly like to have.
Nora. No, I really can't think of anything--unless, Torvald--
Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes tohis). 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 asmuch as you can afford; and then one of these days I will buy somethingwith it.
Helmer. But, Nora--
Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up inbeautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn't that befun?
Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting money?
Nora. Spendthrifts--I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald, and thenI shall have time to think what I am most in want of. That is a verysensible plan, isn't it?
Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is--that is to say, if you were really tosave out of the money I give you, and then really buy something foryourself. But if you spend it all on the housekeeping and any number ofunnecessary 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 roundher waist.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal ofmoney. 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 saveanything!
Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven't any idea how manyexpenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You alwaysfind some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as soon as youhave got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You never know where ithas gone. Still, one must take you as you are. It is in the blood; forindeed 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 arelooking 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 beenbreaking 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 goingagainst your wishes.
Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word-- (Goingup to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, my darling.They will all be revealed tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, nodoubt.
Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?
Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will come todinner 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 lookingforward 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 safeappointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think of, isn'tit?
Nora. It's wonderful!
Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeksbeforehand you shut yourself up every evening until long after midnight,making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the other fine thingsthat were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I everspent!
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 thecat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?
Helmer. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the best ofintentions to please us all, and that's the main thing. But it is a goodthing 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 youneedn'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 willtell 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 thebell. (She tidies the room a little.) There's some one at the door. Whata 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 intravelling dress, and shuts the door.) Mrs. Linde (in a dejected andtimid voice). How do you do, Nora?
Nora (doubtfully). How do you do--Mrs. Linde. You don't recognise me, Isuppose.
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 couldI--(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 yearshave been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have comeinto the town, and have taken this long journey in winter--that wasplucky of you.
Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.
Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful! Wewill 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. (Takesher hands.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only the firstmoment--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, Imeant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it offand something always prevented me.
Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.
Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must havesuffered. 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 havethree lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they are outwith 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 onlythink of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do youknow 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 uncertainthing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury cases; and naturallyTorvald 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 theBank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots ofcommissions. For the future we can live quite differently--we can dojust as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will besplendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won'tit?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what oneneeds.
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 ourschooldays you were a great spendthrift.
Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags her finger ather.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We have not been ina 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, andthat kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.) And other things as well. Youknow Torvald left his office when we were married? There was no prospectof promotion there, and he had to try and earn more than before. Butduring the first year he over-worked himself dreadfully. You see, he hadto make money every way he could, and he worked early and late; but hecouldn't stand it, and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it wasnecessary 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. Itwas just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was awonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But it costa 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'tit?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have themoney.
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'tit?
Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I wasexpecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor sick Torvaldto 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 toItaly?
Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on ourgoing, 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 justas I did, was the doctor?
Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come hereprofessionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least onceevery day. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since then, and ourchildren are strong and healthy and so am I. (Jumps up and claps herhands.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be alive and happy!--But howhorrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own affairs. (Sits on astool near her, and rests her arms on her knees.) You mustn't be angrywith 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 Iwas 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 aprecarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and there wasnothing left.
Nora. And then?--
Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could find--firsta small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last three years haveseemed 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 boysdo not need me either; they have got situations and can shift forthemselves.
Nora. What a relief you must feel if--
Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one tolive for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.) That was why I could not standthe life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be easier hereto find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts. If only Icould have the good luck to get some regular work--office work of somekind--
Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look tiredout now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.
Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to give me moneyfor 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 forchances. One must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me ofthe happy turn your fortunes have taken--you will hardly believe it--Iwas delighted not so much on your account as on my own.
Nora. How do you mean?--Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps Torvaldcould 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 subjectvery 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 isdoubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens and troublesof life.
Nora. I--? I know so little of them?
Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and that sort ofthing!--You are a child, Nora.
Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought not to be sosuperior.
Mrs. Linde. No?
Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am incapableof 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 toldyou 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 yourmother?
Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don't look down on anyone. But it is true that Iam both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to make the end ofmy mother's life almost free from care.
Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done for yourbrothers?
Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.
Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have something tobe 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 anyaccount--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 willshow you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I whosaved Torvald's life.
Mrs. Linde. "Saved"? How?
Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never haverecovered 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 prizein the Lottery?
Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have been no creditin that.
Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora (humming andsmiling 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 forbusiness--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 themoney. 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 attractiveas 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 bitimprudent?
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! Mygoodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should have noidea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctorscame and said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing tosave him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn't try, first ofall, to get what I wanted as if it were for myself? I told him how muchI should love to travel abroad like other young wives; I tried tears andentreaties with him; I told him that he ought to remember the conditionI was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I evenhinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry,Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as myhusband not to indulge me in my whims and caprices--as I believe hecalled them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved--and that was how Icame to devise a way out of the difficulty--
Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know from your father thatthe money had not come from him?
Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let himinto the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so illthen--alas, there never was any need to tell him.
Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to yourhusband?
Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has suchstrong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful andhumiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, toknow that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relationsaltogether; 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, aftermany years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as I am now. Don't laughat me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is no longer as devoted to me ashe is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled onhim; then it may be a good thing to have something in reserve--(Breakingoff.) What nonsense! That time will never come. Now, what do you thinkof my great secret, Christine? Do you still think I am of no use? I cantell you, too, that this affair has caused me a lot of worry. It hasbeen by no means easy for me to meet my engagements punctually. I maytell you that there is something that is called, in business, quarterlyinterest, and another thing called payment in installments, and it isalways so dreadfully difficult to manage them. I have had to save alittle here and there, where I could, you understand. I have not beenable to put aside much from my housekeeping money, for Torvald must havea good table. I couldn't let my children be shabbily dressed; I havefelt obliged to use up all he gave me for them, the sweet littledarlings!
Mrs. Linde. So it has all had to come out of your own necessaries oflife, poor Nora?
Nora. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it. WheneverTorvald has given me money for new dresses and such things, I havenever spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplestand cheapest things. Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me, andso 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 winterI was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I locked myself upand sat writing every evening until quite late at night. Many a time Iwas desperately tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure tosit 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 anaccount of a business matter of that kind. I only know that I have paidevery 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 oldgentleman 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 openedit 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 atall; it was only something that I used to sit here and imagine, when Icouldn'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! Freefrom care! To be able to be free from care, quite free from care; to beable to play and romp with the children; to be able to keep the housebeautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it! And, think ofit, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky! Perhaps we shall beable to take a little trip--perhaps I shall see the sea again! Oh, it'sa wonderful thing to be alive and be happy. (A bell is heard in thehall.)
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 forTorvald.
Servant (at the hall door). Excuse me, ma'am--there is a gentleman tosee 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, andI hear your husband is to be our chief now--
Nora. Then it is--
Krogstad. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmer; absolutelynothing else.
Nora. Be so good as to go into the study, then. (She bows indifferentlyto him and shuts the door into the hall; then comes back and makes upthe 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'sclerk 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 thedoor 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'tlet us think of business; it is so tiresome.
Doctor Rank (comes out of HELMER'S study. Before he shuts the door hecalls to him). No, my dear fellow, I won't disturb you; I would rathergo 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 Ipassed 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 toamuse 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 theagony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And so arethose who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad case too, is atthis 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 hebegan 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 dowith the Bank.
Rank. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To Mrs. LINDE.) Idon't know whether you find also in your part of the world that thereare certain people who go zealously snuffing about to smell out moralcorruption, and, as soon as they have found some, put the personconcerned into some lucrative position where they can keep their eye onhim. Healthy natures are left out in the cold.
Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking careof.
Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is thesentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.
(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into smotheredlaughter and claps her hands.)
Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society reallyis?
Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at somethingquite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me, Doctor Rank, areall 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 muchpower over so many people. (Takes the packet from her pocket.) DoctorRank, 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 hadforbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil myteeth. But, bah!--once in a way--That's so, isn't it, Doctor Rank? Byyour 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 theworld 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 hearme.
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 hisroom, 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 book-keeping, and she isfrightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to perfectherself--
Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.
Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the Bank--thenews was telegraphed, you know--she travelled here as quick asshe could. Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do something forChristine, for my sake, won't you?
Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are awidow, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Helmer. And have had some experience of book-keeping?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.
Helmer. Ah! well, it's very likely I may be able to find something foryou--
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 excuseme--
Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur coat from thehall 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; Iam afraid it is impossible for us--
Mrs. Linde. Please don't think of it! Goodbye, Nora dear, and manythanks.
Nora. Goodbye for the present. Of course you will come back thisevening. 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 talkingtogether. Children's voices are heard on the staircase.)
Nora. There they are! There they are! (She runs to open the door. TheNURSE comes in with the children.) Come in! Come in! (Stoops and kissesthem.) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them, Christine! Aren't theydarlings?
Rank. Don't let us stand here in the draught.
Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable for amother now!
(RANK, HELMER, and Mrs. LINDE go downstairs. The NURSE comes forwardwith the children; NORA shuts the hall door.)
Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks like apples androses. (The children all talk at once while she speaks to them.) Haveyou had great fun? That's splendid! What, you pulled both Emmy and Bobalong on the sledge?--both at once?--that was good. You are a cleverboy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little, Anne. My sweet little babydoll! (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? Iwish 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'sthings 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 theparcels, 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 playat? 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 laughand shout, and romp in and out of the room; at last NORA hides under thetable, the children rush in and out for her, but do not see her; theyhear her smothered laughter, run to the table, lift up the clothand find her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends tofrighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock at thehall door, but none of them has noticed it. The door is half opened, andKROGSTAD 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 forgotto 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 haveanother game. (She takes the children into the room on the left, andshuts 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 whatsort 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 somethingdifferent. 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 goingdown the street--
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 Ican ask you, without beating about the bush--is Mrs. Linde to have anappointment in the Bank?
Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?--You, one ofmy 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 littlebit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman, it does notnecessarily follow that--. When anyone is in a subordinate position,Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful to avoid offending anyonewho--who--
Krogstad. Who has influence?
Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as to useyour 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 mysubordinate position in the Bank.
Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post away fromyou?
Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence ofignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very anxiousto expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with me; and Iquite 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 whenI 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 myhusband?
Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I don'tsuppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.
Nora. If you speak slightingly of my husband, I shall turn you out ofthe 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 werefighting for my life.
Nora. So it seems.
Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that weighsleast with me in the matter. There is another reason--well, I may aswell tell you. My position is this. I daresay you know, like everybodyelse, 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 beclosed to me after that. So I took to the business that you know of. Ihad to do something; and, honestly, I don't think I've been one of theworst. But now I must cut myself free from all that. My sons are growingup; for their sake I must try and win back as much respect as I can inthe town. This post in the Bank was like the first step up for me--andnow 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 tohelp you at all.
Krogstad. Then it is because you haven't the will; but I have means tocompel 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 hislearning 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 ahorribly disagreeable position--
Krogstad. Only disagreeable?
Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then!--and it will be the worse foryou. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you are, and youcertainly won't keep your post then.
Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home thatyou were afraid of?
Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at oncepay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more to do withyou.
Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. Either youhave a very bad memory or you know very little of business. I shall beobliged to remind you of a few details.
Nora. What do you mean?
Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow twohundred 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 soanxious to get the money for your journey, that you seem to have paidno attention to the conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not beamiss if I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money on thesecurity of a bond which I drew up.
Nora. Yes, and which I signed.
Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a few linesconstituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your fathershould have signed.
Nora. Should? He did sign them.
Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say, your father shouldhimself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper. Do youremember that?
Nora. Yes, I think I remember--
Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your father. Isthat not so?
Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six daysafterwards you brought me the bond with your father's signature. Andthen 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--thatmust 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?
Krogstad. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember what dayyour father died?--on what day of the month, I mean.
Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.
Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And, asthat 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 yourfather signed this bond three days after his death.
Nora. What do you mean? I don't understand--
Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look here;your father has dated his signature the 2nd of October. It is adiscrepancy, isn't it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it to me? (NORAis still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too, that the words "2ndof October," as well as the year, are not written in your father'shandwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course it can beexplained; your father may have forgotten to date his signature, andsomeone 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 himselfwho signed his name here?
Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly athim). 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 toyour father?
Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for hissignature, I should have had to tell him what the money was to beused for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn't tell him that myhusband's life was in danger--it was impossible.
Krogstad. It would have been better for you if you had given up yourtrip 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 fraudon me?
Nora. I couldn't take that into account; I didn't trouble myself aboutyou at all. I couldn't bear you, because you put so many heartlessdifficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous condition myhusband was in.
Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what it isthat you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my one falsestep, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more or nothing worsethan what you have done.
Nora. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to run arisk 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, ifI produce this paper in court.
Nora. I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare herdying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be allowed to save herhusband's life? I don't know much about law; but I am certain that theremust be laws permitting such things as that. Have you no knowledge ofsuch 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 Ihave had together--do you think I don't understand that? Very well. Doas you please. But let me tell you this--if I lose my position a secondtime, you shall lose yours with me. (He bows, and goes out through thehall.)
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 hethinks. (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 hasgone 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. Runaway in, my sweet little darlings. (She gets them into the room bydegrees and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the sofa, takesup 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 adrawer, 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--Thehorrible man! It's all nonsense--there's nothing wrong. The treeshall 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 somepapers 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 beggingyou to say a good word for him.
Helmer. And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you were toconceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn't he beg that ofyou too?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, but--
Helmer. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of thing? Tohave 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 ather.) My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird must havea clean beak to chirp with--no false notes! (Puts his arm round herwaist.) That is so, isn't it? Yes, I am sure it is. (Lets her go.) Wewill say no more about it. (Sits down by the stove.) How warm and snugit is here! (Turns over his papers.)
Nora (after a short pause, during which she busies herself with theChristmas Tree.) Torvald!
Nora. I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy-dress ball at theStenborgs' the day after tomorrow.
Helmer. And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going tosurprise 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 ofseems 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). Areyou very busy, Torvald?
Nora. What are all those papers?
Helmer. Bank business.
Helmer. I have got authority from the retiring manager to undertake thenecessary changes in the staff and in the rearrangement of the work; andI must make use of the Christmas week for that, so as to have everythingin order for the new year.
Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad--
Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair). If youhadn'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 tolook nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn't you take me in handand 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 tocome 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 uponsomething.
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 somethingvery 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 soheartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false stepof that kind.
Nora. No, you wouldn't, would you, Torvald?
Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he hasopenly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.
Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out of itby 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 thehypocrite with every one, how he has to wear a mask in the presence ofthose near and dear to him, even before his own wife and children. Andabout the children--that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.
Helmer. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the wholelife of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is full ofthe 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 alawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had adeceitful mother.
Nora. Why do you only say--mother?
Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence, thoughnaturally a bad father's would have the same result. Every lawyeris familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been persistentlypoisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why Isay he has lost all moral character. (Holds out his hands to her.) Thatis why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to plead his cause. Giveme your hand on it. Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand. Therenow, that's settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for me towork with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the companyof such people.
Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of theChristmas 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 musttry and read through some of these before dinner; and I must think aboutyour costume, too. And it is just possible I may have something readyin gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his hand on her head.) Myprecious little singing-bird! (He goes into his room and shuts the doorafter 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 tomamma.
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? (Ashort pause. Then she tosses her head.) It's not true. It can't possiblybe true.
(THE SAME SCENE.--THE Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano,stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on itsdishevelled branches. NORA'S cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. Sheis alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa andtakes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door andlistens.) No--it is no one. Of course, no one will come today, ChristmasDay--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 thingcouldn't happen; it is impossible--I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboardbox.)
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 littlepatience.
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 nowas 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 ifshe went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!--went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often wonderedabout--how could you have the heart to put your own child out amongstrangers?
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 poorgirl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides, that wickedman 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 goodmother 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 youwould--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). Ifonly I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only I could be surenothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff and nonsense! No onewill come. Only I mustn't think about it. I will brush my muff. Whatlovely, 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 andhat.)
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 somethingyou 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 Neapolitanfisher-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 itmade 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 thetrimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then, that'sall 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 inyour fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to thank you for adelightful evening yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses the stage). Well, I don't think yesterday wasas pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to town a little earlier,Christine. Certainly Torvald does understand how to make a house daintyand attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your father'sdaughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always as depressed ashe was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that hesuffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of the spine,poor creature. His father was a horrible man who committed all sortsof excesses; and that is why his son was sickly from childhood, do youunderstand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her sewing). But, my dearest Nora, how do you knowanything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh! When you have three children, you get visitsnow and then from--from married women, who know something of medicalmatters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor Rank come hereeveryday?
Nora. Everyday regularly. He is Torvald's most intimate friend, and agreat 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 hethe 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 hadoften heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I noticedthat your husband hadn't the slightest idea who I was. So how couldDoctor Rank--?
Nora. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond of methat he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first he usedto seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk at home, sonaturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about such things withDoctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child in manythings, and I am older than you in many ways and have a little moreexperience. Let me tell you this--you ought to make an end of it withDoctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some nonsenseabout 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 wholent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing! Afriend of ours, who comes here everyday! Do you realise what a horriblypainful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn't he?
Nora. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head fora moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into his moneyafterwards.
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 benecessary. 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 bebehind 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 straightmuch easier than a woman--
Mrs. Linde. One's husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing still.) When you pay off a debt you get yourbond back, don't you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn itup--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 Torvaldcome home. Do you mind going in to the children for the present? Torvaldcan't bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne help you.
Mrs. Linde (gathering some of the things together). Certainly--but I amnot going away from here until we have had it out with one another. (Shegoes 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 youwish?
Helmer. Nice?--because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well, youlittle rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But I amnot going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your dress, Iexpect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have justbeen into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)
Nora. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very, veryprettily--?
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 wouldbe nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer. Speak plainly.
Nora. Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song risingand 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 thismorning?
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 hispost in the bank.
Helmer. My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs. Lindeshall have.
Nora. Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could just aswell dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
Helmer. This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to givehim a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am expectedto--
Nora. That isn't the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake. Thisfellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have told me soyourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm. I am frightenedto death of him--
Helmer. Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that scareyou.
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 maliciouscreatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how horribly theyslandered him. I believe they would have procured his dismissal if theDepartment had not sent you over to inquire into it, and if you had notbeen so kindly disposed and helpful to him.
Helmer. My little Nora, there is an important difference between yourfather and me. Your father's reputation as a public official was notabove suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to be so, as longas I hold my office.
Nora. You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We oughtto be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful home, and haveno cares--you and I and the children, Torvald! That is why I beg you soearnestly--
Helmer. And it is just by interceding for him that you make itimpossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank that Imean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the new managerhas 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 herway! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before my wholestaff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by all sorts ofoutside influence? I should very soon feel the consequences of it, I cantell you! And besides, there is one thing that makes it quite impossiblefor 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, ifnecessary--
Nora. Yes, you could--couldn't you?
Helmer. And I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when wewere boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often prove anincubus in afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly, we were once onvery intimate terms with one another. But this tactless fellow lays norestraint on himself when other people are present. On the contrary,he thinks it gives him the right to adopt a familiar tone with me, andevery 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 positionin 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 amnarrow-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 tothis. (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 andtell him to deliver it, and be quick. The address is on it, and here isthe 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 herback! Do it for my sake--for your own sake--for the children's sake! Doyou hear me, Torvald? Call her back! You don't know what that letter canbring 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, althoughreally it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn't it an insult to thinkthat I should be afraid of a starving quill-driver's vengeance? But Iforgive you nevertheless, because it is such eloquent witness to yourgreat 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 bothcourage and strength if they be needed. You will see I am man enough totake 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 wifeshould. That is how it shall be. (Caressing her.) Are you content now?There! There!--not these frightened dove's eyes! The whole thing is onlythe wildest fancy!--Now, you must go and play through the Tarantella andpractise with your tambourine. I shall go into the inner office and shutthe door, and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as youplease. (Turns back at the door.) And when Rank comes, tell him where hewill find me. (Nods to her, takes his papers and goes into his room, andshuts the door after him.)
Nora (bewildered with anxiety, stands as if rooted to the spot, andwhispers). He was capable of doing it. He will do it. He will do it inspite of everything.--No, not that! Never, never! Anything rather thanthat! Oh, for some help, some way out of it! (The door-bell rings.)Doctor Rank! Anything rather than that--anything, whatever it is! (Sheputs her hands over her face, pulls herself together, goes to the doorand opens it. RANK is standing without, hanging up his coat. During thefollowing dialogue it begins to grow dark.)
Nora. Good day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you mustn't go in toTorvald now; I think he is busy with something.
Rank. And you?
Nora (brings him in and shuts the door after him). Oh, you know verywell 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 tohappen?
Rank. Nothing but what I have long been prepared for. But I certainlydidn'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 behelped.
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 wretchedof all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I have been taking stock of myinternal economy. Bankrupt! Probably within a month I shall lie rottingin the churchyard.
Nora. What an ugly thing to say!
Rank. The thing itself is cursedly ugly, and the worst of it is that Ishall have to face so much more that is ugly before that. I shall onlymake one more examination of myself; when I have done that, I shall knowpretty certainly when it will be that the horrors of dissolution willbegin. There is something I want to tell you. Helmer's refined naturegives him an unconquerable disgust at everything that is ugly; I won'thave him in my sick-room.
Nora. Oh, but, Doctor Rank--
Rank. I won't have him there. Not on any account. I bar my door to him.As soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I shall sendyou my card with a black cross on it, and then you will know that theloathsome end has begun.
Nora. You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so much to be in areally good humour.
Rank. With death stalking beside me?--To have to pay this penalty foranother man's sin? Is there any justice in that? And in every singlefamily, in one way or another, some such inexorable retribution is beingexacted--
Nora (putting her hands over her ears). Rubbish! Do talk of somethingcheerful.
Rank. Oh, it's a mere laughing matter, the whole thing. My poor innocentspine has to suffer for my father's youthful amusements.
Nora (sitting at the table on the left). I suppose you mean that he wastoo 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 nicethings should take their revenge on our bones.
Rank. Especially that they should revenge themselves on the unluckybones 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, deathmustn't take you away from Torvald and me.
Rank. It is a loss you would easily recover from. Those who are gone aresoon 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 onthe high road to it, I think. What did that Mrs. Linde want here lastnight?
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 donefor, 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, howunreasonable you are! (Sits down on the sofa.) Be nice now, Doctor Rank,and tomorrow you will see how beautifully I shall dance, and you canimagine 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 downhere, 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, buttomorrow--. No, no, no! you must only look at the feet. Oh well, you mayhave leave to look at the legs too.
Rank. Hm!--Nora. Why are you looking so critical? Don't you think theywill 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 theear 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 amongthe things, humming to herself.)
Rank (after a short silence). When I am sitting here, talking to you asintimately as this, I cannot imagine for a moment what would have becomeof 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 beobliged 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 slightesttoken of one's gratitude, scarcely even a fleeting regret--nothing butan 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; itmeans advice, and help, and a favour--
Rank. The bigger a thing it is the better. I can't conceive what it isyou 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 somethingyou must help me to prevent. You know how devotedly, how inexpressiblydeeply Torvald loves me; he would never for a moment hesitate to givehis 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 therewill never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know it, Nora. Andnow 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 thestove.) 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 itdown on the table, and goes out.) Nora--Mrs. Helmer--tell me, had youany idea of this?
Nora. Oh, how do I know whether I had or whether I hadn't? I reallycan't tell you--To think you could be so clumsy, Doctor Rank! We weregetting on so nicely.
Rank. Well, at all events you know now that you can command me, body andsoul. 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 havepermission to do for you whatever a man may do.
Nora. You can do nothing for me now. Besides, I really don't need anyhelp at all. You will find that the whole thing is merely fancy on mypart. 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, DoctorRank!--don't you feel ashamed of yourself, now the lamp has come?
Rank. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--for ever?
Nora. No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come here just asbefore. 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 riddleto me. I have often thought that you would almost as soon be in mycompany as in Helmer's.
Nora. Yes--you see there are some people one loves best, and others whomone 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 alwaysthought it tremendous fun if I could steal down into the maids' room,because they never moralised at all, and talked to each other about suchentertaining things.
Rank. I see--it is their place I have taken.
Nora (jumping up and going to him). Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I nevermeant that at all. But surely you can understand that being with Torvaldis 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 newdress--
Rank. What? Your dress is lying there.
Nora. Oh, yes, that one; but this is another. I ordered it. Torvaldmustn'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 sayanything 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 ofme! No, no, no, it can't happen--it shan't happen! (She bolts the doorof HELMER'S room. The MAID opens the hall door for KROGSTAD and shuts itafter 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 couldon your side, but it was no good.
Krogstad. Does your husband love you so little, then? He knows what Ican 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 ourdear 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 havekept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make bold to suppose thatyou have a little clearer idea, than you had yesterday, of what itactually 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 thinkingabout you all day long. A mere cashier, a quill-driver, a--well, a manlike 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 mindabout that. I only wanted to tell you that you need not take this mattertoo seriously. In the first place there will be no accusation made on mypart.
Nora. No, of course not; I was sure of that.
Krogstad. The whole thing can be arranged amicably; there is no reasonwhy anyone should know anything about it. It will remain a secretbetween 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 thatyou can pay the balance that is owing?
Nora. No, not just at present.
Krogstad. Or perhaps that you have some expedient for raising the moneysoon?
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. Ifyou stood there with ever so much money in your hand, I would never partwith 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 whois not concerned in the matter shall have the slightest hint of it. Sothat 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'tthe courage.
Nora (faintly). No more had I.
Krogstad (in a tone of relief). No, that's it, isn't it--you hadn't thecourage either?
Nora. No, I haven't--I haven't.
Krogstad. Besides, it would have been a great piece of folly. Once thefirst storm at home is over--. I have a letter for your husband in mypocket.
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 somemeans 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 areasking 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; Iwant to get on; and in that your husband must help me. For the last yearand a half I have not had a hand in anything dishonourable, amid allthat time I have been struggling in most restricted circumstances. I wascontent to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I amnot 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 ahigher 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 amin there again with him, then you will see! Within a year I shall be themanager's right hand. It will be Nils Krogstad and not Torvald Helmerwho 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 andunrecognisable, 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 thesame.
Nora. Afterwards? When I am no longer--
Krogstad. Have you forgotten that it is I who have the keeping of yourreputation? (NORA stands speechlessly looking at him.) Well, now, I havewarned 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 isyour husband himself who has forced me into such ways as this again. Iwill never forgive him for that. Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer. (Exit through thehall.)
Nora (goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens.) He isgoing. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh no, no! that'simpossible! (Opens the door by degrees.) What is that? He is standingoutside. He is not going downstairs. Is he hesitating? Can he--? (Aletter drops into the box; then KROGSTAD'S footsteps are heard, untilthey die away as he goes downstairs. NORA utters a stifled cry, and runsacross the room to the table by the sofa. A short pause.)
Nora. In the letter-box. (Steals across to the hall door.) There itlies--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 liketo try it on--?
Nora (in a hoarse whisper). Christine, come here.
Mrs. Linde (throwing the dress down on the sofa). What is the matterwith you? You look so agitated!
Nora. Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look--you can see itthrough 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 some one who wanted totake 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 amnot out of my mind at all; I am in my right senses now, and I tell youno one else has known anything about it; I, and I alone, did the wholething. 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 tohappen!
Mrs. Linde. A wonderful thing?
Nora. Yes, a wonderful thing!--But it is so terrible, Christine; itmustn'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 mysake.
Mrs. Linde. Where does he live?
Nora. How should I know--? Yes (feeling in her pocket), here is hiscard. But the letter, the letter--!
Helmer (calls from his room, knocking at the door). Nora! Nora (criesout anxiously). Oh, what's that? What do you want?
Helmer. Don't be so frightened. We are not coming in; you have lockedthe 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 inthe box.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband keeps the key?
Nora. Yes, always.
Mrs. Linde. Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread, he must findsome 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 willcome back as soon as I can. (She goes out hurriedly through the halldoor.)
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 intomy own room again? Come along, Rank, now you will see-- (Halting in thedoorway.) 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 untiltomorrow.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora, you look so worn out. Have you beenpractising 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 youto 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 nervousabout it--all the people--. You must give yourself up to me entirelythis evening. Not the tiniest bit of business--you mustn't even take apen in your hand. Will you promise, Torvald dear?
Helmer. I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely at yourservice, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way, first of all I willjust--(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, atthe piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella. HELMER stops in thedoorway.) 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; thereis time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down and play for me, Torvalddear; criticise me, and correct me as you play.
Helmer. With great pleasure, if you wish me to. (Sits down at thepiano.)
Nora (takes out of the box a tambourine and a long variegated shawl. Shehastily drapes the shawl round her. Then she springs to the front of thestage 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 morewildly. HELMER has taken up a position beside the stove, and during herdance gives her frequent instructions. She does not seem to hear him;her hair comes down and falls over her shoulders; she pays no attentionto it, but goes on dancing. Enter Mrs. LINDE.)
Mrs. Linde (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway). Oh!--
Nora (as she dances). Such fun, Christine!
Helmer. My dear darling Nora, you are dancing as if your life dependedon it.
Nora. So it does.
Helmer. Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you! (RANK stopsplaying, and NORA suddenly stands still. HELMER goes up to her.) I couldnever 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 lastminute. 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 himlying there.
Nora. I don't know; I think there is; but you must not read anythingof that kind now. Nothing horrid must come between us until this is allover.
Rank (whispers to HELMER). You mustn't contradict her.
Helmer (taking her in his arms). The child shall have her way. Buttomorrow night, after you have danced--
Nora. Then you will be free. (The MAID appears in the doorway to theright.)
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 afew macaroons, Helen--lots, just for once!
Helmer. Come, come, don't be so wild and nervous. Be my own littleskylark, 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 isnothing--she is not expecting anything?
Helmer. Far from it, my dear fellow; it is simply nothing more than thischildish nervousness I was telling you of. (They go into the right-handroom.)
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 amoment. (Mrs. LINDE goes into the dining-room. NORA stands still for alittle while, as if to compose herself. Then she looks at her watch.)Five o'clock. Seven hours until midnight; and then four-and-twenty hoursuntil the next midnight. Then the Tarantella will be over. Twenty-fourand 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 SAME SCENE.--The table has been placed in the middle of the stage,with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The door into thehall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room above. Mrs. LINDE issitting at the table idly turning over the leaves of a book; she triesto read, but does not seem able to collect her thoughts. Every now andthen 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 thehall and opens the outer door carefully. Light footsteps are heard onthe stairs. She whispers.) Come in. There is no one here.
Krogstad (in the doorway). I found a note from you at home. What doesthis mean?
Mrs. Linde. It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk withyou.
Krogstad. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should be here?
Mrs. Linde. It is impossible where I live; there is no private entranceto my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is asleep, and theHelmers are at the dance upstairs.
Krogstad (coming into the room). Are the Helmers really at a dancetonight?
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 obviousto all the world--a heartless woman jilts a man when a more lucrativechance turns up?
Mrs. Linde. Do you believe I am as absolutely heartless as all that? Anddo 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 atthe time?
Mrs. Linde. I could do nothing else. As I had to break with you, it wasmy 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 forthe sake of money!
Mrs. Linde. You must not forget that I had a helpless mother and twolittle brothers. We couldn't wait for you, Nils; your prospects seemedhopeless then.
Krogstad. That may be so, but you had no right to throw me over foranyone else's sake.
Mrs. Linde. Indeed I don't know. Many a time did I ask myself if I hadthe right to do it.
Krogstad (more gently). When I lost you, it was as if all the solidground went from under my feet. Look at me now--I am a shipwrecked manclinging 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 itwas your place I was going to take in the Bank.
Krogstad. I believe you, if you say so. But now that you know it, areyou 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, bitternecessity 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. Butdeeds you must believe in?
Krogstad. What do you mean by that?
Mrs. Linde. You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to somewreckage.
Krogstad. I had good reason to say so.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I am like a shipwrecked woman clinging to somewreckage--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 couldjoin forces?
Krogstad. What are you saying?
Mrs. Linde. Two on the same piece of wreckage would stand a betterchance 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 longas I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest andonly pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world--my life is sodreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the least pleasurein working for one's self. Nils, give me someone and something to workfor.
Krogstad. I don't trust that. It is nothing but a woman's overstrainedsense 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 pastlife?
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 beenquite 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 sureyou 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 needa mother. We two need each other. Nils, I have faith in your realcharacter--I can dare anything together with you.
Krogstad (grasps her hands). Thanks, thanks, Christine! Now I shall finda 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 expectthem back.
Krogstad. Yes, yes--I will go. But it is all no use. Of course you arenot 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 mightbe 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 allmeans?--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; Iwill tell him he must give me my letter back--that it only concerns mydismissal--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 askedme to meet you here?
Mrs. Linde. In my first moment of fright, it was. But twenty-four hourshave elapsed since then, and in that time I have witnessed incrediblethings in this house. Helmer must know all about it. This unhappy secretmust 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 isone 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; weare 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 mylife! (Goes out through the outer door. The door between the room andthe 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 livefor--a home to bring comfort into. That I will do, indeed. I wish theywould be quick and come--(Listens.) Ah, there they are now. I must puton my things. (Takes up her hat and cloak. HELMER'S and NORA'S voicesare heard outside; a key is turned, and HELMER brings NORA almost byforce into the hall. She is in an Italian costume with a large blackshawl around her; he is in evening dress, and a black domino which isflying 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 toleave 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 ouragreement. Come along into the room; you are catching cold standingthere. (He brings her gently into the room, in spite of her resistance.)
Mrs. Linde. Good evening.
Helmer. You here, so late, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, you must excuse me; I was so anxious to see Nora in herdress.
Nora. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, unfortunately I came too late, you had already goneupstairs; and I thought I couldn't go away again without having seenyou.
Helmer (taking off NORA'S shawl). Yes, take a good look at her. I thinkshe 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 thedance. But she is terribly self-willed, this sweet little person. Whatare we to do with her? You will hardly believe that I had almost tobring her away by force.
Nora. Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay, even if it wereonly for half an hour.
Helmer. Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her Tarantella, andit had been a tremendous success, as it deserved--although possibly theperformance was a trifle too realistic--a little more so, I mean, thanwas strictly compatible with the limitations of art. But never mindabout that! The chief thing is, she had made a success--she had madea tremendous success. Do you think I was going to let her remain thereafter that, and spoil the effect? No, indeed! I took my charming littleCapri maiden--my capricious little Capri maiden, I should say--on myarm; took one quick turn round the room; a curtsey on either side, and,as they say in novels, the beautiful apparition disappeared. An exitought always to be effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot makeNora 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, ofcourse--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 isconcerned; 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 holdthe embroidery thus in your left hand, and use the needle with theright--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 butungraceful; look here--the arms close together, the knitting-needlesgoing up and down--it has a sort of Chinese effect--. That was reallyexcellent 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 youwill get home all right. I should be very happy to--but you haven't anygreat distance to go. Goodnight, goodnight. (She goes out; he shuts thedoor after her, and comes in again.) Ah!--at last we have got rid ofher. 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. Andyou?--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 staythere any longer.
Nora. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.
Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Now my little skylark is speakingreasonably. 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 insuch 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 withyou--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 beautythat is mine, all my very own?
Nora (going to the other side of the table). You mustn't say things likethat 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 guestsare beginning to go now. (In a lower voice.) Nora--soon the whole housewill be quiet.
Nora. Yes, I hope so.
Helmer. Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I am out at a partywith 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 youknow why I do that? It is because I make believe to myself that we aresecretly in love, and you are my secretly promised bride, and that noone 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 yourbeautiful young shoulders--on your lovely neck--then I imagine that youare my young bride and that we have just come from the wedding, and I ambringing you for the first time into our home--to be alone with you forthe first time--quite alone with my shy little darling! All this eveningI have longed for nothing but you. When I watched the seductive figuresof 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--youwon'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.) Waita minute! (Unlocks the door.) Come, that's kind of you not to pass byour door.
Rank. I thought I heard your voice, and felt as if I should like to lookin. (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 wellupstairs too.
Rank. Excellently. Why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't one enjoy everythingin 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 Imanaged 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-spentday?
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 scientificinvestigation today.
Helmer. Just listen!--little Nora talking about scientificinvestigations!
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 eveningof it after that?
Nora. Yes, you certainly were, Doctor Rank. Helmer. I think so too, solong 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 forit.
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 whatyou will be?
Rank. Yes, my dear friend, I have quite made up my mind about that.
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 makeyou 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 acigar--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.) Andnow 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 pocketand 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 roomto 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 atthe lock.
Nora. At the lock--?
Helmer. Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should never have thoughtthe 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 havegot it open. (Takes out the contents of the letter-box, and calls to thekitchen.) Helen!--Helen, put out the light over the front door. (Goesback into the room and shuts the door into the hall. He holds out hishand full of letters.) Look at that--look what a heap of them thereare. (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 musthave 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 anuncomfortable 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 toyou?
Nora. Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would be hisleave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die.
Helmer. My poor old friend! Certainly I knew we should not have him verylong with us. But so soon! And so he hides himself away like a woundedanimal.
Nora. If it has to happen, it is best it should be without a word--don'tyou think so, Torvald?
Helmer (walking up and down). He had so grown into our lives. I can'tthink of him as having gone out of them. He, with his sufferings and hisloneliness, was like a cloudy background to our sunlit happiness. Well,perhaps it is best so. For him, anyway. (Standing still.) And perhapsfor us too, Nora. We two are thrown quite upon each other now. (Puts hisarms round her.) My darling wife, I don't feel as if I could hold youtight enough. Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might bethreatened 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 mustread 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 comebetween us--the thought of the horrors of death. We must try and rid ourminds 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 hisletters and goes into his room, shutting the door after him.)
Nora (gropes distractedly about, seizes HELMER'S domino, throws it roundher, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic whispers). Never to seehim again. Never! Never! (Puts her shawl over her head.) Never to seemy children again either--never again. Never! Never!--Ah! the icy, blackwater--the unfathomable depths--If only it were over! He has got itnow--now he is reading it. Goodbye, Torvald and my children! (She isabout to rush out through the hall, when HELMER opens his door hurriedlyand stands with an open letter in his hand.)
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 itupon yourself.
Helmer. No tragic airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here you shallstay 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 inher face). Yes, now I am beginning to understand thoroughly.
Helmer (walking about the room). What a horrible awakening! All theseeight years--she who was my joy and pride--a hypocrite, a liar--worse,worse--a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it all!--For shame! Forshame! (NORA is silent and looks steadily at him. He stops in front ofher.) 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--besilent!--all your father's want of principle has come out in you. Noreligion, no morality, no sense of duty--. How I am punished for havingwinked at what he did! I did it for your sake, and this is how you repayme.
Nora. Yes, that's just it.
Helmer. Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined all myfuture. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an unscrupulousman; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything he likes of me, giveme any orders he pleases--I dare not refuse. And I must sink to suchmiserable 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 thoseready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out of the way, asyou say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair known everywhere; andif he does, I may be falsely suspected of having been a party to yourcriminal action. Very likely people will think I was behind it all--thatit was I who prompted you! And I have to thank you for all this--youwhom I have cherished during the whole of our married life. Do youunderstand 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 tosome understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I tell you. I musttry and appease him some way or another. The matter must be hushed up atany cost. And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything betweenus were just as before--but naturally only in the eyes of the world. Youwill still remain in my house, that is a matter of course. But I shallnot 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 lovedso dearly, and whom I still--. No, that is all over. From this momenthappiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save theremains, 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, itis 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. Itmay 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 ashout of joy.) Nora! (She looks at him questioningly.) Nora!--No, I mustread 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, hesends you your bond back. He says he regrets and repents--that a happychange in his life--never mind what he says! We are saved, Nora! No onecan do anything to you. Oh, Nora, Nora!--no, first I must destroy thesehateful things. Let me see--. (Takes a look at the bond.) No, no, Iwon't look at it. The whole thing shall be nothing but a bad dream tome. (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 saysthat since Christmas Eve you--. These must have been three dreadful daysfor 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'tcall any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with joy, and keepsaying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to me, Nora. You don'tseem to realise that it is all over. What is this?--such a cold, setface! My poor little Nora, I quite understand; you don't feel as if youcould believe that I have forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swearit; I have forgiven you everything. I know that what you did, you didout of love for me.
Nora. That is true.
Helmer. You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only youhad not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But do yousuppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't understandhow to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean on me; Iwill advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if this womanlyhelplessness did not just give you a double attractiveness in my eyes.You must not think anymore about the hard things I said in my firstmoment of consternation, when I thought everything was going tooverwhelm me. I have forgiven you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgivenyou.
Nora. Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out through the door tothe 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 atrest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under. (Walksup and down by the door.) How warm and cosy our home is, Nora. Here isshelter for you; here I will protect you like a hunted dove that Ihave saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring peace to your poor beatingheart. It will come, little by little, Nora, believe me. Tomorrowmorning you will look upon it all quite differently; soon everythingwill be just as it was before. Very soon you won't need me to assure youthat I have forgiven you; you will yourself feel the certainty that Ihave done so. Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing asrepudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no idea what a trueman's heart is like, Nora. There is something so indescribably sweetand satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge that he has forgiven hiswife--forgiven her freely, and with all his heart. It seems as if thathad 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. Soyou shall be for me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Haveno anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me, and Iwill serve as will and conscience both to you--. What is this? Not goneto 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 atone 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 withyou.
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 neverunderstood you either--before tonight. No, you mustn't interrupt me.You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald, this is a settling ofaccounts.
Helmer. What do you mean by that?
Nora (after a short silence). Isn't there one thing that strikes you asstrange in our sitting here like this?
Helmer. What is that?
Nora. We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur to youthat this is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, havehad a serious conversation?
Helmer. What do you mean by serious?
Nora. In all these eight years--longer than that--from the verybeginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on anyserious subject.
Helmer. Was it likely that I would be continually and forever tellingyou about worries that you could not help me to bear?
Nora. I am not speaking about business matters. I say that we have neversat 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 greatlywronged, Torvald--first by papa and then by you.
Helmer. What! By us two--by us two, who have loved you better thananyone else in the world?
Nora (shaking her head). You have never loved me. You have only thoughtit 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, hetold 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 nothave liked it. He called me his doll-child, and he played with me justas 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'shands 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 reallynot 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 likea poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely to performtricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa havecommitted a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have madenothing of my life.
Helmer. How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have you notbeen happy here?
Nora. No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has neverreally been so.
Helmer. Not--not happy!
Nora. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But ourhome has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, justas at home I was papa's doll-child; and here the children have beenmy dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as theythought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriagehas been, Torvald.
Helmer. There is some truth in what you say--exaggerated and strained asyour view of it is. But for the future it shall be different. Playtimeshall 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 aproper wife for you.
Helmer. And you can say that!
Nora. And I--how am I fitted to bring up the children?
Nora. Didn't you say so yourself a little while ago--that you dare nottrust 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 educatemyself--you are not the man to help me in that. I must do that formyself. 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 andeverything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain with youany longer.
Helmer. Nora, Nora!
Nora. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure Christine willtake 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 withme what belongs to myself. I will take nothing from you, either now orlater.
Helmer. What sort of madness is this!
Nora. Tomorrow I shall go home--I mean, to my old home. It will beeasiest 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 youdon't consider what people will say!
Nora. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is necessaryfor me.
Helmer. It's shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacredduties.
Nora. What do you consider my most sacred duties?
Helmer. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to yourhusband 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 Iam a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all events, thatI must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most peoplewould think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found inbooks; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say, orwith what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and getto understand them.
Helmer. Can you not understand your place in your own home? Have you nota 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 beconfirmed. 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 mattertoo. I will see if what the clergyman said is true, or at all events ifit is true for me.
Helmer. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion cannotlead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I suppose youhave 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. Ireally don't know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only know thatyou 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 itimpossible to convince myself that the law is right. According to ita woman has no right to spare her old dying father, or to save herhusband's life. I can't believe that.
Helmer. You talk like a child. You don't understand the conditions ofthe world in which you live.
Nora. No, I don't. But now I am going to try. I am going to see if I canmake out who is right, the world or I.
Helmer. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you are outof 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 yourhusband 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 kindto me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.
Helmer (regaining his composure). Is that a clear and certain convictiontoo?
Nora. Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I willnot 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 didnot 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 thishorrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt quite certain that thewonderful thing was going to happen at last. When Krogstad's letter waslying out there, never for a moment did I imagine that you would consentto accept this man's conditions. I was so absolutely certain that youwould say to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when thatwas done--
Helmer. Yes, what then?--when I had exposed my wife to shame anddisgrace?
Nora. When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would comeforward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the guilty one.
Nora. You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice on yourpart? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have been worthagainst yours? That was the wonderful thing which I hoped for andfeared; 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 andwant for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one heloves.
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 bindmyself to. As soon as your fear was over--and it was not fear for whatthreatened me, but for what might happen to you--when the whole thingwas past, as far as you were concerned it was exactly as if nothing atall had happened. Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, yourdoll, which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care, becauseit was so brittle and fragile. (Getting up.) Torvald--it was thenit dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living here with astrange man, and had borne him three children--. Oh, I can't bear tothink of it! I could tear myself into little bits!
Helmer (sadly). I see, I see. An abyss has opened between us--there isno 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 understandthat idea.
Nora (going out to the right). That makes it all the more certain thatit must be done. (She comes back with her cloak and hat and a small bagwhich 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'sroom.
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 littleones. I know they are in better hands than mine. As I am now, I can beof 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 herhusband's house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from allobligations towards her. In any case, I set you free from all yourobligations. 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 myown things that I brought with me from home. I will have them sent afterme.
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--
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 allwould have to happen.
Helmer. Tell me what that would be!
Nora. Both you and I would have to be so changed that--. Oh, Torvald, Idon'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 goesout through the hall.)
Helmer (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in hishands). Nora! Nora! (Looks round, and rises.) Empty. She is gone. (Ahope flashes across his mind.) The most wonderful thing of all--?
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)