A Doll's House
Part 1 out of 3
Prepared by Martin Adamson
A DOLL'S HOUSE
by Henrik Ibsen
Nora, his wife.
Helmer's three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
(The action takes place in Helmer's house.)
A DOLL'S HOUSE
(SCENE.--A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study.
Between the doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand
wall is a door, and beyond it a window. Near the window are a
round table, arm-chairs and a small sofa. In the right-hand wall,
at the farther end, another door; and on the same side, nearer
the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs and a rocking-chair;
between the stove and the door, a small table. Engravings on the
walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects; a small
book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter.
A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to
open. Enter NORA, humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in
outdoor dress and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on
the table to the right. She leaves the outer door open after her,
and through it is seen a PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree
and a basket, which he gives to the MAID who has opened the
Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the
children do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To
the PORTER, taking out her purse.) How much?
Nora. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER
thanks her, and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to
herself, as she takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of
macaroons from her pocket and eats one or two; then goes
cautiously to her husband's door and listens.) Yes, he is in.
(Still humming, she goes to the table on the right.)
Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark
twittering out there?
Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!
Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?
Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?
Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and
wipes her mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have
Helmer. Don't disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and
looks into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these
things? Has my little spendthrift been wasting money again?
Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go
a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to
Helmer. Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly. Nora.
Yes, Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn't we?
Just a tiny wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn
lots and lots of money.
Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole
quarter before the salary is due.
Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.
Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the
ear.) The same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed
fifty pounds today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week,
and then on New Year's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me,
and--Nora (putting her hands over his mouth). Oh! don't say such
Helmer. Still, suppose that happened,--what then?
Nora. If that were to happen, I don't suppose I should care
whether I owed money or not.
Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?
Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they
Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what
I think about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no
freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and
debt. We two have kept bravely on the straight road so far, and
we will go on the same way for the short time longer that there
need be any struggle.
Nora (moving towards the stove). As you please, Torvald.
Helmer (following her). Come, come, my little skylark must not
droop her wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of
temper? (Taking out his purse.) Nora, what do you think I have
Nora (turning round quickly). Money!
Helmer. There you are. (Gives her some money.) Do you think I
don't know what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-
Nora (counting). Ten shillings--a pound--two pounds! Thank you,
thank you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.
Helmer. Indeed it must.
Nora. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I
have bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar,
and a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and
dolly's bedstead for Emmy,--they are very plain, but anyway she
will soon break them in pieces. And here are dress-lengths and
handkerchiefs for the maids; old Anne ought really to have
Helmer. And what is in this parcel?
Nora (crying out). No, no! you mustn't see that until this
Helmer. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little
person, what would you like for yourself?
Nora. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don't want anything.
Helmer. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you
would particularly like to have.
Nora. No, I really can't think of anything--unless, Torvald--
Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes
to his). If you really want to give me something, you might--you
Helmer. Well, out with it!
Nora (speaking quickly). You might give me money, Torvald. Only
just as much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will
buy something with it.
Helmer. But, Nora--
Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up
in beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn't
that be fun?
Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting
Nora. Spendthrifts--I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald,
and then I shall have time to think what I am most in want of.
That is a very sensible plan, isn't it?
Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is--that is to say, if you were
really to save out of the money I give you, and then really buy
something for yourself. But if you spend it all on the
housekeeping and any number of unnecessary things, then I merely
have to pay up again.
Nora. Oh but, Torvald--
Helmer. You can't deny it, my dear little Nora. (Puts his arm
round her waist.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses
up a deal of money. One would hardly believe how expensive such
little persons are!
Nora. It's a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.
Helmer (laughing). That's very true,--all you can. But you can't
Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven't any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.
Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You
always find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as
soon as you have got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You
never know where it has gone. Still, one must take you as you
are. It is in the blood; for indeed it is true that you can
inherit these things, Nora.
Nora. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.
Helmer. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you
are, my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me
that you are looking rather--what shall I say--rather uneasy today?
Nora. Do I?
Helmer. You do, really. Look straight at me.
Nora (looks at him). Well?
Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?
Nora. No; what makes you think that?
Helmer. Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?
Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald--
Helmer. Not been nibbling sweets?
Nora. No, certainly not.
Helmer. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?
Nora. No, Torvald, I assure you really--
Helmer. There, there, of course I was only joking.
Nora (going to the table on the right). I should not think of
going against your wishes.
Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word--
(Going up to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to
yourself, my darling. They will all be revealed tonight when the
Christmas Tree is lit, no doubt.
Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?
Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will
come to dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in
this morning. I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can't
think how I am looking forward to this evening.
Nora. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!
Helmer. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think
of, isn't it?
Nora. It's wonderful!
Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until long after
midnight, making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the
other fine things that were to be a surprise to us. It was the
dullest three weeks I ever spent!
Nora. I didn't find it dull.
Helmer (smiling). But there was precious little result, Nora.
Nora. Oh, you shouldn't tease me about that again. How could I
help the cat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?
Helmer. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the
best of intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing.
But it is a good thing that our hard times are over.
Nora. Yes, it is really wonderful.
Helmer. This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and
you needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands--
Nora (clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer,
need I! It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (Taking his
arm.) Now I will tell you how I have been thinking we ought to
arrange things, Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over--(A bell
rings in the hall.) There's the bell. (She tidies the room a
little.) There's some one at the door. What a nuisance!
Helmer. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.
Maid (in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma'am,--a stranger.
Nora. Ask her to come in.
Maid (to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.
Helmer. Did he go straight into my room?
Maid. Yes, sir.
(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in Mrs. LINDE, who is
in travelling dress, and shuts the door.) Mrs. Linde (in a
dejected and timid voice). How do you do, Nora?
Nora (doubtfully). How do you do--Mrs. Linde. You don't recognise
me, I suppose.
Nora. No, I don't know--yes, to be sure, I seem to--(Suddenly.)
Yes! Christine! Is it really you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, it is I.
Nora. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how
could I--(In a gentle voice.) How you have altered, Christine!
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years--
Nora. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight
years have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now
you have come into the town, and have taken this long journey in
winter--that was plucky of you.
Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.
Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How
delightful! We will have such fun together! But take off your
things. You are not cold, I hope. (Helps her.) Now we will sit
down by the stove, and be cosy. No, take this armchair; I will
sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes her hands.) Now you look
like your old self again; it was only the first moment--You are a
little paler, Christine, and perhaps a little thinner.
Mrs. Linde. And much, much older, Nora.
Nora. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not
much. (Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a thoughtless
creature I am, chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine,
do forgive me.
Mrs. Linde. What do you mean, Nora?
Nora (gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.
Mrs. Linde. Yes; it is three years ago now.
Nora. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you,
Christine, I meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but
I always put it off and something always prevented me.
Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.
Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must
have suffered. And he left you nothing?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. And no children?
Mrs. Linde. No.
Nora. Nothing at all, then.
Mrs. Linde. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.
Nora (looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that
Mrs. Linde (smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes
Nora. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I
have three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they
are out with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.
Mrs. Linde. No, no; I want to hear about you.
Nora. No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I
must only think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must
tell you. Do you know we have just had a great piece of good
Mrs. Linde. No, what is it?
Nora. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!
Mrs. Linde. Your husband? What good luck!
Nora. Yes, tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an
uncertain thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury
cases; and naturally Torvald has never been willing to do that,
and I quite agree with him. You may imagine how pleased we are!
He is to take up his work in the Bank at the New Year, and then
he will have a big salary and lots of commissions. For the future
we can live quite differently--we can do just as we like. I feel
so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be splendid to have
heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't it?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have
what one needs.
Nora. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.
Mrs. Linde (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven't you learned sense yet?
In our schooldays you were a great spendthrift.
Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags her
finger at her.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We
have not been in a position for me to waste money. We have both
had to work.
Mrs. Linde. You too?
Nora. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crotchet-work, embroidery,
and that kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.) And other things as
well. You know Torvald left his office when we were married?
There was no prospect of promotion there, and he had to try and
earn more than before. But during the first year he over-worked
himself dreadfully. You see, he had to make money every way he
could, and he worked early and late; but he couldn't stand it,
and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it was necessary
for him to go south.
Mrs. Linde. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?
Nora. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It was
just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But
it cost a tremendous lot of money, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. So I should think.
Nora. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That's a lot,
Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have
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,
Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I
was expecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor
sick Torvald to look after. My dear, kind father--I never saw him
again, Christine. That was the saddest time I have known since
Mrs. Linde. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went
off to Italy?
Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on
our going, so we started a month later.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband came back quite well?
Nora. As sound as a bell!
Mrs. Linde. But--the doctor?
Nora. What doctor?
Mrs. Linde. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived
here just as I did, was the doctor?
Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least
once everyday. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since
then, and our children are strong and healthy and so am I. (Jumps
up and claps her hands.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be
alive and happy!--But how horrid of me; I am talking of nothing
but my own affairs. (Sits on a stool near her, and rests her arms
on her knees.) You mustn't be angry with me. Tell me, is it
really true that you did not love your husband? Why did you marry
Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and
helpless, and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I
did not think I was justified in refusing his offer.
Nora. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time,
Mrs. Linde. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was
a precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and
there was nothing left.
Nora. And then?--
Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could find-
-first a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last
three years have seemed like one long working-day, with no rest.
Now it is at an end, Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for
she is gone; and the boys do not need me either; they have got
situations and can shift for themselves.
Nora. What a relief you must feel if--
Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No
one to live for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.) That was why I
could not stand the life in my little backwater any longer. I
hope it may be easier here to find something which will busy me
and occupy my thoughts. If only I could have the good luck to get
some regular work--office work of some kind--
Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look
tired out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.
Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to give me
money for a journey, Nora.
Nora (rising). Oh, don't be angry with me!
Mrs. Linde (going up to her). It is you that must not be angry
with me, dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes
one so bitter. No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always
on the lookout for chances. One must live, and so one becomes
selfish. When you told me of the happy turn your fortunes have
taken--you will hardly believe it--I was delighted not so much on
your account as on my own.
Nora. How do you mean?--Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps
Torvald could get you something to do.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.
Nora. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the
subject very cleverly--I will think of something that will please
him very much. It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.
Mrs. Linde. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me!
It is doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens
and troubles of life.
Nora. I--? I know so little of them?
Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and that
sort of thing!--You are a child, Nora.
Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought not to be
Mrs. Linde. No?
Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am
incapable of anything really serious--
Mrs. Linde. Come, come--
Nora.--that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your
Nora. Pooh!--those were trifles. (Lowering her voice.) I have not
told you the important thing.
Mrs. Linde. The important thing? What do you mean?
Nora. You look down upon me altogether, Christine--but you ought
not to. You are proud, aren't you, of having worked so hard and
so long for your mother?
Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don't look down on anyone. But it is true
that I am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to
make the end of my mother's life almost free from care.
Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your
Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.
Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have
something to be proud and glad of.
Mrs. Linde. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?
Nora. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any
account--no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.
Mrs. Linde. But what is it?
Nora. Come here. (Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.) Now I
will show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of.
It was I who saved Torvald's life.
Mrs. Linde. "Saved"? How?
Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never
have recovered if he had not gone there--
Mrs. Linde. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.
Nora (smiling). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others
Mrs. Linde. But--
Nora. Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the
Mrs. Linde. You? All that large sum?
Nora. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?
Mrs. Linde. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win
a prize in the Lottery?
Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have been no
credit in that.
Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora (humming
and smiling with an air of mystery). Hm, hm! Aha!
Mrs. Linde. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.
Nora. Couldn't I? Why not?
Mrs. Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's
Nora (tossing her head). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business--a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever--
Mrs. Linde. I don't understand it at all, Nora.
Nora. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed
the money. I may have got it some other way. (Lies back on the
sofa.) Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is
as attractive as I am--
Mrs. Linde. You are a mad creature.
Nora. Now, you know you're full of curiosity, Christine.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven't you been a little
Nora (sits up straight). Is it imprudent to save your husband's
Mrs. Linde. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to--
Nora. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should
have no idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me
that the doctors came and said that his life was in danger, and
that the only thing to save him was to live in the south. Do you
suppose I didn't try, first of all, to get what I wanted as if it
were for myself? I told him how much I should love to travel
abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and entreaties with
him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition I was in,
and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even hinted
that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry, Christine.
He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my husband
not to indulge me in my whims and caprices--as I believe he called
them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved--and that was how
I came to devise a way out of the difficulty--
Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know from your
father that the money had not come from him?
Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let
him into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so
ill then--alas, there never was any need to tell him.
Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to
Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has
such strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful
and humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly
independence, to know that he owed me anything! It would upset
our mutual relations altogether; our beautiful happy home would
no longer be what it is now.
Mrs. Linde. Do you mean never to tell him about it?
Nora (meditatively, and with a half smile). Yes--someday,
perhaps, after many years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as
I am now. Don't laugh at me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is
no longer as devoted to me as he is now; when my dancing and
dressing-up and reciting have palled on him; then it may be a
good thing to have something in reserve--(Breaking off.) What
nonsense! That time will never come. Now, what do you think of my
great secret, Christine? Do you still think I am of no use? I can
tell you, too, that this affair has caused me a lot of worry. It
has been by no means easy for me to meet my engagements
punctually. I may tell you that there is something that is
called, in business, quarterly interest, and another thing called
payment in installments, and it is always so dreadfully difficult
to manage them. I have had to save a little here and there, where
I could, you understand. I have not been able to put aside much
from my housekeeping money, for Torvald must have a good table. I
couldn't let my children be shabbily dressed; I have felt obliged
to use up all he gave me for them, the sweet little darlings!
Mrs. Linde. So it has all had to come out of your own necessaries
of life, poor Nora?
Nora. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it. Whenever
Torvald has given me money for new dresses and such things, I have
never spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest
and cheapest things. Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me,
and so Torvald has never noticed it. But it was often very hard
on me, Christine--because it is delightful to be really well
dressed, isn't it?
Mrs. Linde. Quite so.
Nora. Well, then I have found other ways of earning money. Last
winter I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I
locked myself up and sat writing every evening until quite late
at night. Many a time I was desperately tired; but all the same
it was a tremendous pleasure to sit there working and earning
money. It was like being a man.
Mrs. Linde. How much have you been able to pay off in that way?
Nora. I can't tell you exactly. You see, it is very difficult to
keep an account of a business matter of that kind. I only know
that I have paid every penny that I could scrape together. Many a
time I was at my wits' end. (Smiles.) Then I used to sit here and
imagine that a rich old gentleman had fallen in love with me--
Mrs. Linde. What! Who was it?
Nora. Be quiet!--that he had died; and that when his will was
opened it contained, written in big letters, the instruction:
"The lovely Mrs. Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over
to her at once in cash."
Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora--who could the man be?
Nora. Good gracious, can't you understand? There was no old
gentleman at all; it was only something that I used to sit here
and imagine, when I couldn't think of any way of procuring money.
But it's all the same now; the tiresome old person can stay where
he is, as far as I am concerned; I don't care about him or his
will either, for I am free from care now. (Jumps up.) My
goodness, it's delightful to think of, Christine! Free from care!
To be able to be free from care, quite free from care; to be able
to play and romp with the children; to be able to keep the house
beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it! And,
think of it, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky!
Perhaps we shall be able to take a little trip--perhaps I shall
see the sea again! Oh, it's a wonderful thing to be alive and be
happy. (A bell is heard in the hall.)
Mrs. Linde (rising). There is the bell; perhaps I had better go.
Nora. No, don't go; no one will come in here; it is sure to be
Servant (at the hall door). Excuse me, ma'am--there is a
gentleman to see the master, and as the doctor is with him--
Nora. Who is it?
Krogstad (at the door). It is I, Mrs. Helmer. (Mrs. LINDE starts,
trembles, and turns to the window.)
Nora (takes a step towards him, and speaks in a strained, low
voice). You? What is it? What do you want to see my husband
Krogstad. Bank business--in a way. I have a small post in the
Bank, and I hear your husband is to be our chief now--
Nora. Then it is--
Krogstad. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmer;
absolutely nothing else.
Nora. Be so good as to go into the study, then. (She bows
indifferently to him and shuts the door into the hall; then comes
back and makes up the fire in the stove.)
Mrs. Linde. Nora--who was that man?
Nora. A lawyer, of the name of Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Then it really was he.
Nora. Do you know the man?
Mrs. Linde. I used to--many years ago. At one time he was a
solicitor's clerk in our town.
Nora. Yes, he was.
Mrs. Linde. He is greatly altered.
Nora. He made a very unhappy marriage.
Mrs. Linde. He is a widower now, isn't he?
Nora. With several children. There now, it is burning up. Shuts
the door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside.)
Mrs. Linde. They say he carries on various kinds of business.
Nora. Really! Perhaps he does; I don't know anything about it.
But don't let us think of business; it is so tiresome.
Doctor Rank (comes out of HELMER'S study. Before he shuts the
door he calls to him). No, my dear fellow, I won't disturb you; I
would rather go in to your wife for a little while. (Shuts the
door and sees Mrs. LINDE.) I beg your pardon; I am afraid I am
disturbing you too.
Nora. No, not at all. (Introducing him). Doctor Rank, Mrs. Linde.
Rank. I have often heard Mrs. Linde's name mentioned here. I
think I passed you on the stairs when I arrived, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I go up very slowly; I can't manage stairs well.
Rank. Ah! some slight internal weakness?
Mrs. Linde. No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.
Rank. Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have come to
town to amuse yourself with our entertainments?
Mrs. Linde. I have come to look for work.
Rank. Is that a good cure for overwork?
Mrs. Linde. One must live, Doctor Rank.
Rank. Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.
Nora. Look here, Doctor Rank--you know you want to live.
Rank. Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to prolong
the agony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And
so are those who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad
case too, is at this very moment with Helmer--
Mrs. Linde (sadly). Ah!
Nora. Whom do you mean?
Rank. A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you don't know
at all. He suffers from a diseased moral character, Mrs. Helmer;
but even he began talking of its being highly important that he
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
Nora. I didn't know this--what's his name--Krogstad had anything
to do with the Bank.
Rank. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To Mrs.
LINDE.) I don't know whether you find also in your part of the
world that there are certain people who go zealously snuffing
about to smell out moral corruption, and, as soon as they have
found some, put the person concerned into some lucrative position
where they can keep their eye on him. Healthy natures are left
out in the cold.
Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking
Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is the
sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.
(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into
smothered laughter and claps her hands.)
Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society
Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at
something quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me,
Doctor Rank, are all the people who are employed in the Bank
dependent on Torvald now?
Rank. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?
Nora (smiling and humming). That's my affair! (Walking about the
room.) It's perfectly glorious to think that we have--that
Torvald has so much power over so many people. (Takes the packet
from her pocket.) Doctor Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?
Rank. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.
Nora. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.
Mrs. Linde. What! I?--
Nora. Oh, well, don't be alarmed! You couldn't know that Torvald
had forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will
spoil my teeth. But, bah!--once in a way--That's so, isn't it,
Doctor Rank? By your leave! (Puts a macaroon into his mouth.) You
must have one too, Christine. And I shall have one, just a little
one--or at most two. (Walking about.) I am tremendously happy.
There is just one thing in the world now that I should dearly
love to do.
Rank. Well, what is that?
Nora. It's something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald
could hear me.
Rank. Well, why can't you say it?
Nora. No, I daren't; it's so shocking.
Mrs. Linde. Shocking?
Rank. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you
might. What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could
Nora. I should just love to say--Well, I'm damned!
Rank. Are you mad?
Mrs. Linde. Nora, dear--!
Rank. Say it, here he is!
Nora (hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER comes out of
his room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.)
Nora. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?
Helmer. Yes, he has just gone.
Nora. Let me introduce you--this is Christine, who has come to town.
Helmer. Christine--? Excuse me, but I don't know--
Nora. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.
Helmer. Of course. A school friend of my wife's, I presume?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, we have known each other since then.
Nora. And just think, she has taken a long journey in order to see you.
Helmer. What do you mean? Mrs. Linde. No, really, I--
Nora. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping, and she
is frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to
Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.
Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the
Bank--the news was telegraphed, you know--she travelled here as
quick as she could. Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do
something for Christine, for my sake, won't you?
Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are
a widow, Mrs. Linde?
Mrs. Linde. Yes.
Helmer. And have had some experience of book-keeping?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.
Helmer. Ah! well, it's very likely I may be able to find
something for you--
Nora (clapping her hands). What did I tell you? What did I tell
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
Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur coat
from the hall and warms it at the fire.)
Nora. Don't be long away, Torvald dear.
Helmer. About an hour, not more.
Nora. Are you going too, Christine?
Mrs. Linde (putting on her cloak). Yes, I must go and look for a
Helmer. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.
Nora (helping her). What a pity it is we are so short of space
here; I am afraid it is impossible for us--
Mrs. Linde. Please don't think of it! Goodbye, Nora dear, and
Nora. Goodbye for the present. Of course you will come back this
evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you say? If you are well
enough? Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself up well. (They go to the
door all talking together. Children's voices are heard on the
Nora. There they are! There they are! (She runs to open the door.
The NURSE comes in with the children.) Come in! Come in! (Stoops
and kisses them.) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them,
Christine! Aren't they darlings?
Rank. Don't let us stand here in the draught.
Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable
for a mother now!
(RANK, HELMER, and Mrs. LINDE go downstairs. The NURSE comes
forward with the children; NORA shuts the hall door.)
Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks like apples
and roses. (The children all talk at once while she speaks to
them.) Have you had great fun? That's splendid! What, you pulled
both Emmy and Bob along on the sledge? --both at once?--that was
good. You are a clever boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little,
Anne. My sweet little baby doll! (Takes the baby from the MAID
and dances it up and down.) Yes, yes, mother will dance with Bob
too. What! Have you been snowballing? I wish I had been there
too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne; please let me do
it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half frozen. There is
some hot coffee for you on the stove.
(The NURSE goes into the room on the left. NORA takes off the
children's things and throws them about, while they all talk to
her at once.)
Nora. Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn't bite
you? No, dogs don't bite nice little dolly children. You mustn't
look at the parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah, I daresay you would
like to know. No, no--it's something nasty! Come, let us have a
game! What shall we play at? Hide and Seek? Yes, we'll play Hide
and Seek. Bob shall hide first. Must I hide? Very well, I'll hide
first. (She and the children laugh and shout, and romp in and out
of the room; at last NORA hides under the table, the children
rush in and out for her, but do not see her; they hear her
smothered laughter, run to the table, lift up the cloth and find
her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends to
frighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock
at the hall door, but none of them has noticed it. The door is
half opened, and KROGSTAD appears, lie waits a little; the game
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora (with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to her
knees). Ah! what do you want?
Krogstad. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose someone
forgot to shut it.
Nora (rising). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. I know that.
Nora. What do you want here, then?
Krogstad. A word with you.
Nora. With me?--(To the children, gently.) Go in to nurse. What?
No, the strange man won't do mother any harm. When he has gone we
will have another game. (She takes the children into the room on
the left, and shuts the door after them.) You want to speak to
Krogstad. Yes, I do.
Nora. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.
Krogstad. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself
what sort of a Christmas you will spend.
Nora. What do you mean? Today it is absolutely impossible for me--
Krogstad. We won't talk about that until later on. This is
something different. I presume you can give me a moment?
Nora. Yes--yes, I can--although--
Krogstad. Good. I was in Olsen's Restaurant and saw your husband
going down the street--
Krogstad. With a lady.
Nora. What then?
Krogstad. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs. Linde?
Nora. It was.
Krogstad. Just arrived in town?
Nora. Yes, today.
Krogstad. She is a great friend of yours, isn't she?
Nora. She is. But I don't see--
Krogstad. I knew her too, once upon a time.
Nora. I am aware of that.
Krogstad. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought as much.
Then I can ask you, without beating about the bush--is Mrs. Linde
to have an appointment in the Bank?
Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?--You, one
of my husband's subordinates! But since you ask, you shall know.
Yes, Mrs. Linde is to have an appointment. And it was I who
pleaded her cause, Mr. Krogstad, let me tell you that.
Krogstad. I was right in what I thought, then.
Nora (walking up and down the stage). Sometimes one has a tiny
little bit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman,
it does not necessarily follow that--. When anyone is in a
subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful
to avoid offending anyone who--who--
Krogstad. Who has influence?
Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as
to use your influence on my behalf.
Nora. What? What do you mean?
Krogstad. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed to keep
my subordinate position in the Bank.
Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post
away from you?
Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence of
ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very
anxious to expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with
me; and I quite understand, too, whom I have to thank for being
Nora. But I assure you--
Krogstad. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time has
come when I should advise you to use your influence to prevent
Nora. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence.
Krogstad. Haven't you? I thought you said yourself just now--
Nora. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction on
it. I! What should make you think I have any influence of that
kind with my husband?
Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I
don't suppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.
Nora. If you speak slightingly of my husband, I shall turn you
out of the house.
Krogstad. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.
Nora. I am not afraid of you any longer. As soon as the New Year
comes, I shall in a very short time be free of the whole thing.
Krogstad (controlling himself). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If
necessary) I am prepared to fight for my small post in the Bank
as if I were fighting for my life.
Nora. So it seems.
Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that
weighs least with me in the matter. There is another reason--
well, I may as well tell you. My position is this. I daresay you
know, like everybody else, that once, many years ago, I was
guilty of an indiscretion.
Nora. I think I have heard something of the kind.
Krogstad. The matter never came into court; but every way seemed
to be closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you
know of. I had to do something; and, honestly, I don't think I've
been one of the worst. But now I must cut myself free from all
that. My sons are growing up; for their sake I must try and win
back as much respect as I can in the town. This post in the Bank
was like the first step up for me--and now your husband is going
to kick me downstairs again into the mud.
Nora. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my
power to help you at all.
Krogstad. Then it is because you haven't the will; but I have
means to compel you.
Nora. You don't mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you
Krogstad. Hm!--suppose I were to tell him?
Nora. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.) To think
of his learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in
such an ugly, clumsy way--that he should learn it from you! And
it would put me in a horribly disagreeable position--
Krogstad. Only disagreeable?
Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then!--and it will be the worse
for you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you
are, and you certainly won't keep your post then.
Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home
that you were afraid of?
Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at
once pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more
to do with you.
Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer.
Either you have a very bad memory or you know very little of
business. I shall be obliged to remind you of a few details.
Nora. What do you mean?
Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two
hundred and fifty pounds.
Nora. I didn't know anyone else to go to.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount--
Nora. Yes, and you did so.
Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount, on certain
conditions. Your mind was so taken up with your husband's
illness, and you were so anxious to get the money for your
journey, that you seem to have paid no attention to the conditions
of our bargain. Therefore it will not be amiss if I remind you of
them. Now, I promised to get the money on the security of a bond
which I drew up.
Nora. Yes, and which I signed.
Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a few lines
constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your
father should have signed.
Nora. Should? He did sign them.
Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say, your father
should himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper.
Do you remember that?
Nora. Yes, I think I remember--
Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your
father. Is that not so?
Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six
days afterwards you brought me the bond with your father's
signature. And then I gave you the money.
Nora. Well, haven't I been paying it off regularly?
Krogstad. Fairly so, yes. But--to come back to the matter in
hand--that must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs.
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 day your father died?--on what day of the month, I mean.
Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.
Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And,
as that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a paper from his
pocket) which I cannot account for.
Nora. What discrepancy? I don't know--
Krogstad. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that
your father signed this bond three days after his death.
Nora. What do you mean? I don't understand--
Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look
here; your father has dated his signature the 2nd of October. It
is a discrepancy, isn't it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it
to me? (NORA is still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too,
that the words "2nd of October," as well as the year, are not
written in your father's handwriting but in one that I think I
know. Well, of course it can be explained; your father may have
forgotten to date his signature, and someone else may have dated
it haphazard before they knew of his death. There is no harm in
that. It all depends on the signature of the name; and that is
genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father himself who
signed his name here?
Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly
at him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa's name.
Krogstad. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?
Nora. In what way? You shall have your money soon.
Krogstad. Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the
paper to your father?
Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for
his signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was
to be used for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn't tell
him that my husband's life was in danger--it was impossible.
Krogstad. It would have been better for you if you had given up
your trip abroad.
Nora. No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my husband's
life; I couldn't give that up.
Krogstad. But did it never occur to you that you were committing
a fraud on me?
Nora. I couldn't take that into account; I didn't trouble myself
about you at all. I couldn't bear you, because you put so many
heartless difficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous
condition my husband was in.
Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what
it is that you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my
one false step, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more
or nothing worse than what you have done.
Nora. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to
run a risk to save your wife's life?
Krogstad. The law cares nothing about motives.
Nora. Then it must be a very foolish law.
Krogstad. Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will be judged,
if I produce this paper in court.
Nora. I don't believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to
spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be
allowed to save her husband's life? I don't know much about law;
but I am certain that there must be laws permitting such things
as that. Have you no knowledge of such laws--you who are a
lawyer? You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.
Krogstad. Maybe. But matters of business--such business as you
and I have had together--do you think I don't understand that?
Very well. Do as you please. But let me tell you this--if I lose
my position a second time, you shall lose yours with me. (He
bows, and goes out through the hall.)
Nora (appears buried in thought for a short time, then tosses her
head). Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!--I am not so
silly as he thinks. (Begins to busy herself putting the children's
things in order.) And yet--? No, it's impossible! I did it for love's sake.
The Children (in the doorway on the left). Mother, the stranger
man has gone out through the gate.
Nora. Yes, dears, I know. But, don't tell anyone about the stranger
man. Do you hear? Not even papa.
Children. No, mother; but will you come and play again?
Nora. No, no,--not now.
Children. But, mother, you promised us.
Nora. Yes, but I can't now. Run away in; I have such a lot to do.
Run away in, my sweet little darlings. (She gets them into the
room by degrees and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the
sofa, takes up a piece of needlework and sews a few stitches, but
soon stops.) No! (Throws down the work, gets up, goes to the hall
door and calls out.) Helen! bring the Tree in. (Goes to the table
on the left, opens a drawer, and stops again.) No, no! it is
Maid (coming in with the Tree). Where shall I put it, ma'am?
Nora. Here, in the middle of the floor.
Maid. Shall I get you anything else?
Nora. No, thank you. I have all I want. [Exit MAID.]
Nora (begins dressing the tree). A candle here-and flowers here--
The horrible man! It's all nonsense--there's nothing wrong. The
tree shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to
please you, Torvald!--I will sing for you, dance for you--(HELMER
comes in with some papers under his arm.) Oh! are you back
Helmer. Yes. Has anyone been here?
Nora. Here? No.
Helmer. That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the gate.
Nora. Did you? Oh yes, I forgot, Krogstad was here for a moment.
Helmer. Nora, I can see from your manner that he has been here
begging you to say a good word for him.
Helmer. And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you
were to conceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn't
he beg that of you too?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, but--
Helmer. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of
thing? To have any talk with a man like that, and give him any
sort of promise? And to tell me a lie into the bargain?
Nora. A lie--?
Helmer. Didn't you tell me no one had been here? (Shakes his
finger at her.) My little songbird must never do that again. A
songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with--no false notes!
(Puts his arm round her waist.) That is so, isn't it? Yes, I am
sure it is. (Lets her go.) We will say no more about it. (Sits
down by the stove.) How warm and snug it is here! (Turns over his
Nora (after a short pause, during which she busies herself with
the Christmas Tree.) Torvald!
Nora. I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy-dress ball
at the Stenborgs' the day after tomorrow.
Helmer. And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going
to surprise me with.
Nora. It was very silly of me to want to do that.
Helmer. What do you mean?
Nora. I can't hit upon anything that will do; everything I think
of seems so silly and insignificant.
Helmer. Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?
Nora (standing behind his chair with her arms on the back of it).
Are you very busy, Torvald?
Nora. What are all those papers?
Helmer. Bank business.
Helmer. I have got authority from the retiring manager to
undertake the necessary changes in the staff and in the
rearrangement of the work; and I must make use of the
Christmas week for that, so as to have everything in order
for the new year.
Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad--
Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair).
If you hadn't been so busy I should have asked you a tremendously
big favour, Torvald.
Helmer. What is that? Tell me.
Nora. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I do so
want to look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn't you
take me in hand and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of a
dress I shall wear?
Helmer. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get
someone to come to her rescue?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, I can't get along a bit without your help.
Helmer. Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to hit
Nora. That is nice of you. (Goes to the Christmas Tree. A short
pause.) How pretty the red flowers look--. But, tell me, was it
really something very bad that this Krogstad was guilty of?
Helmer. He forged someone's name. Have you any idea what that
Nora. Isn't it possible that he was driven to do it by necessity?
Helmer. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am not so
heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false
step of that kind.
Nora. No, you wouldn't, would you, Torvald?
Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he
has openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.
Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out
of it by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether.
Nora. But do you think it would--?
Helmer. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play
the hypocrite with every one, how he has to wear a mask in the
presence of those near and dear to him, even before his own wife
and children. And about the children--that is the most terrible
part of it all, Nora.
Helmer. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons
the whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a
house is full of the germs of evil.
Nora (coming nearer him). Are you sure of that?
Helmer. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as
a lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life
has had a deceitful mother.
Nora. Why do you only say--mother?
Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother's influence,
though naturally a bad father's would have the same result. Every
lawyer is familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been
persistently poisoning his own children with lies and
dissimulation; that is why I say he has lost all moral character.
(Holds out his hands to her.) That is why my sweet little Nora
must promise me not to plead his cause. Give me your hand on it.
Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand. There now, that's
settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for me to work
with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the company
of such people.
Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of
the Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot
Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes, and I
must try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must
think about your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have
something ready in gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his
hand on her head.) My precious little singing-bird! (He goes into
his room and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no--it isn't true. It's
impossible; it must be impossible.
(The NURSE opens the door on the left.)
Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come
in to mamma.
Nora. No, no, no! Don't let them come in to me! You stay with
Nurse. Very well, ma'am. (Shuts the door.)
Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison my
home? (A short pause. Then she tosses her head.) It's not true.
It can't possibly be true.
(THE SAME SCENE.--THE Christmas Tree is in the corner by the
piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends
on its dishevelled branches. NORA'S cloak and hat are lying on
the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She
stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door
and listens.) No--it is no one. Of course, no one will come today,
Christmas Day--nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps--(opens
the door and looks out). No, nothing in the letterbox; it is
quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can't be
in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn't happen; it is
impossible--I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It can easily be put in order--just a little
Nora. Yes, I will go and get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with
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
Nora. Do they ask much for me?
Nurse. You see, they are so accustomed to have their mamma with
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I shall not be able to be so much with
them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do you think they would forget their
mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!--went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you to tell me something I have often
wondered about--how could you have the heart to put your own
child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora's nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was going to get such a good place by it? A
poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides,
that wicked man didn't do a single thing for me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn't. She wrote to me when she was
confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round her neck). Dear old Anne, you were a
good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor dear, had no other mother but me. Nora.
And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would--
What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the box.) Go in to them. Now I
must--. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will be no one at the ball so charming as
you, ma'am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the box, but soon pushes it away from
her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only
I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff
and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn't think about it. I
will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts,
out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six--
(Screams.) Ah! there is someone coming--. (Makes a movement
towards the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter MRS. LINDE from the hall, where she has taken off her
cloak and hat.)
Nora. Oh, it's you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is
there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde. I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora. Yes, I was passing by. As a matter of fact, it is something
you could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look
here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the
Stenborgs', who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a
Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learned at
Mrs. Linde. I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora. Yes, Torvald wants me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had
it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven't any
Mrs. Linde. We will easily put that right. It is only some of the
trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then,
that's all we want.
Nora. It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde (sewing). So you are going to be dressed up tomorrow
Nora. I will tell you what--I shall come in for a moment and see
you in your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to
thank you for a delightful evening yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses the stage). Well, I don't think
yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to
town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does
understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you, it seems to me; you are not your
father's daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always
as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was very noticeable. I must tell you that
he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of
the spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who
committed all sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was
sickly from childhood, do you understand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her sewing). But, my dearest Nora, how do
you know anything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh! When you have three children, you get
visits now and then from--from married women, who know something
of medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor Rank
come here everyday?
Nora. Everyday regularly. He is Torvald's most intimate friend,
and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
Mrs. Linde. But tell me this--is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn't
he the kind of man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?
Nora. Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde. When you introduced him to me yesterday, he declared he
had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I
noticed that your husband hadn't the slightest idea who I was.
So how could Doctor Rank--?
Nora. That is quite right, Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond
of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first
he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk
at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about
such things with Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora. You are still very like a child
in many things, and I am older than you in many ways and have a
little more experience. Let me tell you this--you ought to make
an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things, I think. Yesterday you talked some
nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you money--
Nora. An admirer who doesn't exist, unfortunately! But what then?
Mrs. Linde. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora. Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde. And has no one to provide for?
Nora. No, no one; but--
Mrs. Linde. And comes here everyday?
Nora. Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora. I don't understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde. Don't prevaricate, Nora. Do you suppose I don't guess
who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora. Are you out of your senses? How can you think of such a thing!
A friend of ours, who comes here everyday! Do you realise what a
horribly painful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn't he?
Nora. No, certainly not. It would never have entered into my head
for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into
his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.
Nora. No, it would never have come into my head to ask Doctor
Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him--
Mrs. Linde. But of course you won't.
Nora. Of course not. I have no reason to think it could possibly
be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank--
Mrs. Linde. Behind your husband's back?
Nora. I must make an end of it with the other one, and that will
be behind his back too. I must make an end of it with him.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but--
Nora (walking up and down). A man can put a thing like that
straight much easier than a woman--
Mrs. Linde. One's husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing still.) When you pay off a debt you get
your bond back, don't you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it
up--the nasty dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde (looks hard at her, lays down her sewing and gets up
slowly). Nora, you are concealing something from me.
Nora. Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde. Something has happened to you since yesterday morning.
Nora, what is it?
Nora (going nearer to her). Christine! (Listens.) Hush! there's
Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the
present? Torvald can't bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne
Mrs. Linde (gathering some of the things together). Certainly --
but I am not going away from here until we have had it out with
one another. (She goes into the room on the left, as HELMER comes
in from the hall.)
Nora (going up to HELMER). I have wanted you so much, Torvald
Helmer. Was that the dressmaker?
Nora. No, it was Christine; she is helping me to put my dress in
order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer. Wasn't that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora. Splendid! But don't you think it is nice of me, too, to do
as you wish?
Helmer. Nice?--because you do as your husband wishes? Well, well,
you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But
I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your
dress, I expect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have
just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)
Nora. If your little squirrel were to ask you for something very,
Helmer. What then?
Nora. Would you do it?
Helmer. I should like to hear what it is, first.
Nora. Your squirrel would run about and do all her tricks if you
would be nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer. Speak plainly.
Nora. Your skylark would chirp about in every room, with her song
rising and falling--
Helmer. Well, my skylark does that anyhow.
Nora. I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight,
Helmer. Nora--you surely don't mean that request you made to me
Nora (going near him). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. Have you really the courage to open up that question again?
Nora. Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep
his post in the bank.
Helmer. My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs.
Linde shall have.
Nora. Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could
just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
Helmer. This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to
give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am
Nora. That isn't the reason, Torvald. It is for your own sake.
This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have
told me so yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm.
I am frightened to death of him--
Helmer. Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that
Nora. What do you mean?
Helmer. Naturally you are thinking of your father.
Nora. Yes--yes, of course. Just recall to your mind what these
malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how
horribly they slandered him. I believe they would have procured
his dismissal if the Department had not sent you over to inquire
into it, and if you had not been so kindly disposed and helpful
Helmer. My little Nora, there is an important difference between
your father and me. Your father's reputation as a public official
was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to
be so, as long as I hold my office.
Nora. You never can tell what mischief these men may contrive. We
ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful
home, and have no cares--you and I and the children, Torvald!
That is why I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. And it is just by interceding for him that you make it
impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank
that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the
new manager has changed his mind at his wife's bidding--
Nora. And what if it did?
Helmer. Of course!--if only this obstinate little person can get
her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before
my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by
all sorts of outside influence? I should very soon feel the
consequences of it, I can tell you! And besides, there is one thing
that makes it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the Bank
as long as I am manager.
Nora. Whatever is that?
Helmer. His moral failings I might perhaps have overlooked, if
Nora. Yes, you could--couldn't you?
Helmer. And I hear he is a good worker, too. But I knew him when
we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often
prove an incubus in afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly,
we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this
tactless fellow lays no restraint on himself when other people
are present. On the contrary, he thinks it gives him the right to
adopt a familiar tone with me, and every minute it is "I say,
Helmer, old fellow!" and that sort of thing. I assure you it is
extremely painful for me. He would make my position in the Bank
Nora. Torvald, I don't believe you mean that.
Helmer. Don't you? Why not?
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