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A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Part 2 out of 3

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

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

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

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

Nora. What are you going to do?

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

Maid. Very well, sir. (Exit with the letter.)

Helmer (putting his papers together). Now then, little Miss
Obstinate.

Nora (breathlessly). Torvald--what was that letter?

Helmer. Krogstad's dismissal.

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

Helmer. It's too late.

Nora. Yes, it's too late.

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

Nora (in a horror-stricken voice). What do you mean by that?

Helmer. Everything, I say--

Nora (recovering herself). You will never have to do that.

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

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

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

Rank. And you?

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

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

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

Rank. Well, does that alarm you?

Nora. It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything likely
to happen?

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

Nora (gripping him by the arm). What have you found out? Doctor
Rank, you must tell me.

Rank (sitting down by the stove). It is all up with me. And it
can't be helped.

Nora (with a sigh of relief). Is it about yourself?

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

Nora. What an ugly thing to say!

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

Nora. Oh, but, Doctor Rank--

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

Nora. You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so much to be
in a really good humour.

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

Nora (putting her hands over her ears). Rubbish! Do talk of
something cheerful.

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

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

Rank. Yes, and to truffles.

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

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

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

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

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

Rank (with a searching look at her). Hm!--

Nora (after a short pause). Why did you smile?

Rank. No, it was you that laughed.

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

Rank (rising). You are a greater rascal than I thought.

Nora. I am in a silly mood today.

Rank. So it seems.

Nora (putting her hands on his shoulders). Dear, dear Doctor
Rank, death mustn't take you away from Torvald and me.

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

Nora (looking at him anxiously). Do you believe that?

Rank. People form new ties, and then--

Nora. Who will form new ties?

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

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

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

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

Rank. Today again. There, you see.

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

Rank (sitting down). What is it?

Nora. Just look at those!

Rank. Silk stockings.

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

Rank. Hm!--Nora. Why are you looking so critical? Don't you think
they will fit me?

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

Nora (looks at him for a moment). For shame! (Hits him lightly on the
ear with the stockings.) That's to punish you. (Folds them up again.)

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

Nora. Not a single thing more, for being so naughty. (She looks
among the things, humming to herself.)

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

Nora (smiling). I believe you do feel thoroughly at home with us.

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

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

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

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

Rank. For what?

Nora. For a big proof of your friendship--

Rank. Yes, yes!

Nora. I mean a tremendously big favour--

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

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

Rank. No--but tell me.

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

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

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

Rank (leaning towards her). Nora--do you think he is the only
one--?

Nora (with a slight start). The only one--?

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

Nora (sadly). Is that it?

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

Nora (rises, deliberately and quietly). Let me pass.

Rank (makes room for her to pass him, but sits still). Nora!

Nora (at the hall door). Helen, bring in the lamp. (Goes over to
the stove.) Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid of you.

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

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

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

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

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

Nora (looking at him). After what happened?

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

Nora. I can't tell you anything now.

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

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

Rank. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--for ever?

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

Rank. Yes, but you?

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

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

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

Rank. Yes, there is something in that.

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

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

Nora (jumping up and going to him). Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I
never meant that at all. But surely you can understand that being
with Torvald is a little like being with papa--(Enter MAID from
the hall.)

Maid. If you please, ma'am. (Whispers and hands her a card.)

Nora (glancing at the card). Oh! (Puts it in her pocket.)

Rank. Is there anything wrong?

Nora. No, no, not in the least. It is only something--it is my
new dress--

Rank. What? Your dress is lying there.

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

Rank. Oho! Then that was the great secret.

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

Rank. Make your mind easy; I won't let him escape.

(Goes into HELMER'S room.)

Nora (to the MAID). And he is standing waiting in the kitchen?

Maid. Yes; he came up the back stairs.

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

Maid. Yes, but it was no good.

Nora. He won't go away?

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

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

Maid. Yes, ma'am, I quite understand. (Exit.)

Nora. This dreadful thing is going to happen! It will happen in
spite of me! No, no, no, it can't happen--it shan't happen! (She
bolts the door of HELMER'S room. The MAID opens the hall door for
KROGSTAD and shuts it after him. He is wearing a fur coat, high
boots and a fur cap.)

Nora (advancing towards him). Speak low--my husband is at home.

Krogstad. No matter about that.

Nora. What do you want of me?

Krogstad. An explanation of something.

Nora. Make haste then. What is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nora. More than you could ever teach me.

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

Nora. What is it you want of me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nora. No, not just at present.

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

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

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

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

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

Nora. It has.

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

Nora. I had.

Krogstad. Or even something worse--

Nora. How could you know that?

Krogstad. Give up the idea.

Nora. How did you know I had thought of that?

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

Nora (faintly). No more had I.

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

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

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

Nora. Telling him everything?

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

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

Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer, but I think I told you just
now--

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

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

Nora. What do you want, then?

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

Nora. That he will never do!

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

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

Krogstad. Do you mean that you will--?

Nora. I have courage enough for it now.

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

Nora. You will see, you will see.

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

Nora. You can't frighten me.

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

Nora. Afterwards? When I am no longer--

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

Nora (goes to the hall door, opens it slightly and listens.) He
is going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh no, no!
that's impossible! (Opens the door by degrees.) What is that? He
is standing outside. He is not going downstairs. Is he
hesitating? Can he--? (A letter drops into the box; then
KROGSTAD'S footsteps are heard, until they die away as he goes
downstairs. NORA utters a stifled cry, and runs across the room
to the table by the sofa. A short pause.)

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

(Mrs. LINDE comes in from the room on the left, carrying the
dress.)

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

Nora (in a hoarse whisper). Christine, come here.

Mrs. Linde (throwing the dress down on the sofa). What is the
matter with you? You look so agitated!

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

Mrs. Linde. Yes, I see it.

Nora. That letter is from Krogstad.

Mrs. Linde. Nora--it was Krogstad who lent you the money!

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

Mrs. Linde. Believe me, Nora, that's the best thing for both of you.

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

Mrs. Linde. Good heavens--!

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

Mrs. Linde. Your witness? What do you mean? What am I to--?

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

Mrs. Linde. Nora!

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

Mrs. Linde. Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.

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

Mrs. Linde. Yes, yes--but how can you suppose--?

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

Mrs. Linde. I will, indeed. But I don't understand all this.

Nora. How should you understand it? A wonderful thing is going
to happen!

Mrs. Linde. A wonderful thing?

Nora. Yes, a wonderful thing!--But it is so terrible, Christine;
it mustn't happen, not for all the world.

Mrs. Linde. I will go at once and see Krogstad.

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

Mrs. Linde. There was a time when he would gladly do anything for
my sake.

Nora. He?

Mrs. Linde. Where does he live?

Nora. How should I know--? Yes (feeling in her pocket), here is
his card. But the letter, the letter--!

Helmer (calls from his room, knocking at the door). Nora! Nora
(cries out anxiously). Oh, what's that? What do you want?

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

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

Mrs. Linde (who has read the card). I see he lives at the corner here.

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

Mrs. Linde. And your husband keeps the key?

Nora. Yes, always.

Mrs. Linde. Krogstad must ask for his letter back unread, he must
find some pretence--

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

Mrs. Linde. You must delay him. Go in to him in the meantime. I
will come back as soon as I can. (She goes out hurriedly through
the hall door.)

Nora (goes to HELMER'S door, opens it and peeps in). Torvald!

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

Nora. What is what, dear?

Helmer. Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.

Rank (in the doorway). I understood so, but evidently I was
mistaken.

Nora. Yes, nobody is to have the chance of admiring me in my
dress until tomorrow.

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

Nora. No, I have not practised at all.

Helmer. But you will need to--

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

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

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

Helmer. I promise. This evening I will be wholly and absolutely
at your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way,
first of all I will just-- (Goes towards the hall door.)

Nora. What are you going to do there?

Helmer. Only see if any letters have come.

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

Helmer. Why not?

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

Helmer. Well, let me look. (Turns to go to the letter-box. NORA,
at the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella. HELMER
stops in the doorway.) Aha!

Nora. I can't dance tomorrow if I don't practise with you.

Helmer (going up to her). Are you really so afraid of it, dear?

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

Helmer. With great pleasure, if you wish me to. (Sits down at the
piano.)

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

(HELMER plays and NORA dances. RANK stands by the piano behind
HELMER, and looks on.)

Helmer (as he plays). Slower, slower!

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

Helmer. Not so violently, Nora!

Nora. This is the way.

Helmer (stops playing). No, no--that is not a bit right.

Nora (laughing and swinging the tambourine). Didn't I tell you
so?

Rank. Let me play for her.

Helmer (getting up). Yes, do. I can correct her better then.

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

Mrs. Linde (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway). Oh!--

Nora (as she dances). Such fun, Christine!

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

Nora. So it does.

Helmer. Stop, Rank; this is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you!
(RANK stops playing, and NORA suddenly stands still. HELMER goes
up to her.) I could never have believed it. You have forgotten
everything I taught you.

Nora (throwing away the tambourine). There, you see.

Helmer. You will want a lot of coaching.

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

Helmer. You can depend on me.

Nora. You must not think of anything but me, either today or
tomorrow; you mustn't open a single letter--not even open the
letter-box--

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

Nora. Yes, indeed I am.

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

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

Rank (whispers to HELMER). You mustn't contradict her.

Helmer (taking her in his arms). The child shall have her way.
But tomorrow night, after you have danced--

Nora. Then you will be free. (The MAID appears in the doorway to
the right.)

Maid. Dinner is served, ma'am.

Nora. We will have champagne, Helen.

Maid. Very good, ma'am. [Exit.

Helmer. Hullo!--are we going to have a banquet?

Nora. Yes, a champagne banquet until the small hours. (Calls out.)
And a few macaroons, Helen--lots, just for once!

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

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

Rank (whispers to HELMER as they go out). I suppose there is
nothing--she is not expecting anything?

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

Nora. Well!

Mrs. Linde. Gone out of town.

Nora. I could tell from your face.

Mrs. Linde. He is coming home tomorrow evening. I wrote a note
for him.

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

Mrs. Linde. What is it that you are waiting for?

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

Helmer (from the doorway on the right). Where's my little skylark?

Nora (going to him with her arms outstretched). Here she is!

ACT III

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

Mrs. Linde (looking at her watch). Not yet--and the time is
nearly up. If only he does not--. (Listens again.) Ah, there he is.
(Goes into the hall and opens the outer door carefully.
Light footsteps are heard on the stairs. She whispers.)
Come in. There is no one here.

Krogstad (in the doorway). I found a note from you at home. What
does this mean?

Mrs. Linde. It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk
with you.

Krogstad. Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should
be here?

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

Krogstad (coming into the room). Are the Helmers really at a
dance tonight?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, why not?

Krogstad. Certainly--why not?

Mrs. Linde. Now, Nils, let us have a talk.

Krogstad. Can we two have anything to talk about?

Mrs. Linde. We have a great deal to talk about.

Krogstad. I shouldn't have thought so.

Mrs. Linde. No, you have never properly understood me.

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

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

Krogstad. Didn't you?

Mrs. Linde. Nils, did you really think that?

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

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

Krogstad (wringing his hands). So that was it. And all this--only
for the sake of money!

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

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

Mrs. Linde. Indeed I don't know. Many a time did I ask myself if
I had the right to do it.

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

Mrs. Linde. But help may be near.

Krogstad. It was near; but then you came and stood in my way.

Mrs. Linde. Unintentionally, Nils. It was only today that I
learned it was your place I was going to take in the Bank.

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

Mrs. Linde. No, because that would not benefit you in the least.

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

Mrs. Linde. I have learned to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter
necessity have taught me that.

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

Mrs. Linde. Then life has taught you something very reasonable.
But deeds you must believe in?

Krogstad. What do you mean by that?

Mrs. Linde. You said you were like a shipwrecked man clinging to
some wreckage.

Krogstad. I had good reason to say so.

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

Krogstad. It was your own choice.

Mrs. Linde. There was no other choice--then.

Krogstad. Well, what now?

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

Krogstad. What are you saying?

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

Krogstad. Christine I...

Mrs. Linde. What do you suppose brought me to town?

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

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

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

Mrs. Linde. Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in me?

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

Mrs. Linde. Yes.

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

Mrs. Linde. You seemed to me to imply that with me you might have
been quite another man.

Krogstad. I am certain of it.

Mrs. Linde. Is it too late now?

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

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

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

Mrs. Linde (listening). Hush! The Tarantella! Go, go!

Krogstad. Why? What is it?

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

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

Mrs. Linde. Yes, I know all about that.

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

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

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

Mrs. Linde. You cannot. Your letter is lying in the letter-box
now.

Krogstad. Are you sure of that?

Mrs. Linde. Quite sure, but--

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

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

Krogstad. I will ask for my letter back.

Mrs. Linde. No, no.

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

Mrs. Linde. No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.

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

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

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

Mrs. Linde (listening). You must be quick and go! The dance is
over; we are not safe a moment longer.

Krogstad. I will wait for you below.

Mrs. Linde. Yes, do. You must see me back to my door...

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

Mrs. Linde (tidying up the room and laying her hat and cloak
ready). What a difference! what a difference! Someone to work
for and live for--a home to bring comfort into. That I will do,
indeed. I wish they would be quick and come--(Listens.) Ah, there
they are now. I must put on my things. (Takes up her hat and
cloak. HELMER'S and NORA'S voices are heard outside; a key is
turned, and HELMER brings NORA almost by force into the hall. She
is in an Italian costume with a large black shawl around her; he
is in evening dress, and a black domino which is flying open.)

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

Helmer. But, my dearest Nora--

Nora. Please, Torvald dear--please, please--only an hour more.

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

Mrs. Linde. Good evening.

Nora. Christine!

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

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

Nora. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?

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

Helmer (taking off NORA'S shawl). Yes, take a good look at her. I
think she is worth looking at. Isn't she charming, Mrs. Linde?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, indeed she is.

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

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

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

Nora (in a hurried and breathless whisper). Well?

Mrs. Linde (in a low voice). I have had a talk with him.

Nora. Yes, and--

Mrs. Linde. Nora, you must tell your husband all about it.

Nora (in an expressionless voice). I knew it.

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

Nora. I won't tell him.

Mrs. Linde. Then the letter will.

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

Helmer (coming in again). Well, Mrs. Linde, have you admired her?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, and now I will say goodnight.

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

Mrs. Linde (taking it). Yes, thank you, I had very nearly forgotten it.

Helmer. So you knit?

Mrs. Linde. Of course.

Helmer. Do you know, you ought to embroider.

Mrs. Linde. Really? Why?

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

Mrs. Linde. Yes, perhaps--

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

Mrs. Linde. Well,--goodnight, Nora, and don't be self-willed any
more.

Helmer. That's right, Mrs. Linde.

Mrs. Linde. Goodnight, Mr. Helmer.

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

Nora. Aren't you very tired, Torvald?

Helmer. No, not in the least.

Nora. Nor sleepy?

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

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

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

Nora. Everything you do is quite right, Torvald.

Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Now my little skylark is
speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good spirits Rank was in
this evening?

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

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

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

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

Nora (going to the other side of the table). You mustn't say
things like that to me tonight.

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

Nora. Yes, I hope so.

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

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

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

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

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

Nora (starting). Did you hear--?

Helmer (going into the hall). Who is it?

Rank (outside). It is I. May I come in for a moment?

Helmer (in a fretful whisper). Oh, what does he want now?
(Aloud.) Wait a minute! (Unlocks the door.) Come, that's kind of
you not to pass by our door.

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

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

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

Helmer. Especially the champagne.

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

Nora. Torvald drank a great deal of champagne tonight too.

Rank. Did he?

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

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

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

Rank (clapping him on the back). But I can, you know!

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

Rank. Exactly.

Helmer. Just listen!--little Nora talking about scientific
investigations!

Nora. And may I congratulate you on the result?

Rank. Indeed you may.

Nora. Was it favourable, then?

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

Nora (quickly and searchingly). Certainty?

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

Nora. Yes, you certainly were, Doctor Rank. Helmer. I think so
too, so long as you don't have to pay for it in the morning.

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

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

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

Nora. Tell me--what shall we two wear at the next?

Helmer. Little featherbrain!--are you thinking of the next
already?

Rank. We two? Yes, I can tell you. You shall go as a good fairy--

Helmer. Yes, but what do you suggest as an appropriate costume
for that?

Rank. Let your wife go dressed just as she is in everyday life.

Helmer. That was really very prettily turned. But can't you tell
us what you will be?

Rank. Yes, my dear friend, I have quite made up my mind about that.

Helmer. Well?

Rank. At the next fancy-dress ball I shall be invisible.

Helmer. That's a good joke!

Rank. There is a big black hat--have you never heard of hats that
make you invisible? If you put one on, no one can see you.

Helmer (suppressing a smile). Yes, you are quite right.

Rank. But I am clean forgetting what I came for. Helmer, give me
a cigar--one of the dark Havanas.

Helmer. With the greatest pleasure. (Offers him his case.)

Rank (takes a cigar and cuts off the end). Thanks.

Nora (striking a match). Let me give you a light.

Rank. Thank you. (She holds the match for him to light his
cigar.) And now goodbye!

Helmer. Goodbye, goodbye, dear old man!

Nora. Sleep well, Doctor Rank.

Rank. Thank you for that wish.

Nora. Wish me the same.

Rank. You? Well, if you want me to sleep well! And thanks for the
light. (He nods to them both and goes out.)

Helmer (in a subdued voice). He has drunk more than he ought.

Nora (absently). Maybe. (HELMER takes a bunch of keys out of his
pocket and goes into the hall.) Torvald! what are you going to do
there?

Helmer. Emptying the letter-box; it is quite full; there will be no
room to put the newspaper in tomorrow morning.

Nora. Are you going to work tonight?

Helmer. You know quite well I'm not. What is this? Someone has
been at the lock.

Nora. At the lock--?

Helmer. Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should never have
thought the maid--. Here is a broken hairpin. Nora, it is one of
yours.

Nora (quickly). Then it must have been the children--

Helmer. Then you must get them out of those ways. There, at last
I have got it open. (Takes out the contents of the letter-box,
and calls to the kitchen.) Helen!--Helen, put out the light over
the front door. (Goes back into the room and shuts the door into
the hall. He holds out his hand full of letters.) Look at that--
look what a heap of them there are. (Turning them over.) What on
earth is that?

Nora (at the window). The letter--No! Torvald, no!

Helmer. Two cards--of Rank's.

Nora. Of Doctor Rank's?

Helmer (looking at them). Doctor Rank. They were on the top. He
must have put them in when he went out.

Nora. Is there anything written on them?

Helmer. There is a black cross over the name. Look there--what an
uncomfortable idea! It looks as if he were announcing his own death.

Nora. It is just what he is doing.

Helmer. What? Do you know anything about it? Has he said anything
to you?

Nora. Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would be his
leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die.

Helmer. My poor old friend! Certainly I knew we should not have
him very long with us. But so soon! And so he hides himself away
like a wounded animal.

Nora. If it has to happen, it is best it should be without a
word--don't you think so, Torvald?

Helmer (walking up and down). He had so grown into our lives. I
can't think of him as having gone out of them. He, with his
sufferings and his loneliness, was like a cloudy background to
our sunlit happiness. Well, perhaps it is best so. For him,
anyway. (Standing still.) And perhaps for us too, Nora. We
two are thrown quite upon each other now. (Puts his arms round
her.) My darling wife, I don't feel as if I could hold you tight
enough. Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be
threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life's
blood, and everything, for your sake.

Nora (disengages herself, and says firmly and decidedly). Now you
must read your letters, Torvald.

Helmer. No, no; not tonight. I want to be with you, my darling wife.

Nora. With the thought of your friend's death--

Helmer. You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly
has come between us--the thought of the horrors of death.
We must try and rid our minds of that. Until then--we will
each go to our own room.

Nora (hanging on his neck). Goodnight, Torvald--Goodnight!

Helmer (kissing her on the forehead). Goodnight, my little
singing-bird. Sleep sound, Nora. Now I will read my letters
through. (He takes his letters and goes into his room, shutting
the door after him.)

Nora (gropes distractedly about, seizes HELMER'S domino, throws
it round her, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic
whispers). Never to see him again. Never! Never! (Puts her shawl
over her head.) Never to see my children again either--never
again. Never! Never!--Ah! the icy, black water--the unfathomable
depths--If only it were over! He has got it now--now he is reading
it. Goodbye, Torvald and my children! (She is about to rush out
through the hall, when HELMER opens his door hurriedly and stands
with an open letter in his hand.)

Helmer. Nora!

Nora. Ah!--

Helmer. What is this? Do you know what is in this letter?

Nora. Yes, I know. Let me go! Let me get out!

Helmer (holding her back). Where are you going?

Nora (trying to get free). You shan't save me, Torvald!

Helmer (reeling). True? Is this true, that I read here? Horrible!
No, no--it is impossible that it can be true.

Nora. It is true. I have loved you above everything else in the world.

Helmer. Oh, don't let us have any silly excuses.

Nora (taking a step towards him). Torvald--!

Helmer. Miserable creature--what have you done?

Nora. Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You shall not
take it upon yourself.

Helmer. No tragic airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here you
shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you
have done? Answer me! Do you understand what you have done?

Nora (looks steadily at him and says with a growing look of
coldness in her face). Yes, now I am beginning to understand
thoroughly.

Helmer (walking about the room). What a horrible awakening! All
these eight years--she who was my joy and pride--a hypocrite, a
liar--worse, worse--a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it
all!--For shame! For shame! (NORA is silent and looks steadily at
him. He stops in front of her.) I ought to have suspected that
something of the sort would happen. I ought to have foreseen it.
All your father's want of principle--be silent!--all your father's
want of principle has come out in you. No religion, no morality,
no sense of duty--. How I am punished for having winked at what he did!
I did it for your sake, and this is how you repay me.

Nora. Yes, that's just it.

Helmer. Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined
all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of
an unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything
he likes of me, give me any orders he pleases--I dare not refuse.
And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!

Nora. When I am out of the way, you will be free.

Helmer. No fine speeches, please. Your father had always plenty
of those ready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out
of the way, as you say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair
known everywhere; and if he does, I may be falsely suspected of
having been a party to your criminal action. Very likely people
will think I was behind it all--that it was I who prompted you!
And I have to thank you for all this--you whom I have cherished
during the whole of our married life. Do you understand now what
it is you have done for me?

Nora (coldly and quietly). Yes.

Helmer. It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must
come to some understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I
tell you. I must try and appease him some way or another. The
matter must be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it
must appear as if everything between us were just as before--but
naturally only in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in
my house, that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you
to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To think
that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so
dearly, and whom I still--. No, that is all over. From this moment
happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the
remains, the fragments, the appearance--

(A ring is heard at the front-door bell.)

Helmer (with a start). What is that? So late! Can the worst--?
Can he--? Hide yourself, Nora. Say you are ill.

(NORA stands motionless. HELMER goes and unlocks the hall door.)

Maid (half-dressed, comes to the door). A letter for the mistress.

Helmer. Give it to me. (Takes the letter, and shuts the door.)
Yes, it is from him. You shall not have it; I will read it myself.

Nora. Yes, read it.

Helmer (standing by the lamp). I scarcely have the courage to do
it. It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must know. (Tears open
the letter, runs his eye over a few lines, looks at a paper
enclosed, and gives a shout of joy.) Nora! (She looks at him
questioningly.) Nora!--No, I must read it once again--. Yes, it
is true! I am saved! Nora, I am saved!

Nora. And I?

Helmer. You too, of course; we are both saved, both you and I.
Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he regrets and repents--
that a happy change in his life--never mind what he says! We
are saved, Nora! No one can do anything to you. Oh, Nora,
Nora!--no, first I must destroy these hateful things. Let
me see--. (Takes a look at the bond.) No, no, I won't look
at it. The whole thing shall be nothing but a bad dream to
me. (Tears up the bond and both letters, throws them all
into the stove, and watches them burn.) There--now it doesn't
exist any longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you--.
These must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.

Nora. I have fought a hard fight these three days.

Helmer. And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but--. No, we
won't call any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with
joy, and keep saying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to
me, Nora. You don't seem to realise that it is all over. What is
this?--such a cold, set face! My poor little Nora, I quite
understand; you don't feel as if you could believe that I have
forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven
you everything. I know that what you did, you did out of love for me.

Nora. That is true.

Helmer. You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only
you had not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But
do you suppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't
understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean
on me; I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if
this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double
attractiveness in my eyes. You must not think anymore about the
hard things I said in my first moment of consternation, when
I thought everything was going to overwhelm me. I have forgiven
you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgiven you.

Nora. Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out through the
door to the right.)

Helmer. No, don't go--. (Looks in.) What are you doing in there?

Nora (from within). Taking off my fancy dress.

Helmer (standing at the open door). Yes, do. Try and calm yourself,
and make your mind easy again, my frightened little singing-bird. Be
at rest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under.
(Walks up and down by the door.) How warm and cosy our home is,
Nora. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect you like a
hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring
peace to your poor beating heart. It will come, little by little,
Nora, believe me. Tomorrow morning you will look upon it all quite
differently; soon everything will be just as it was before.
Very soon you won't need me to assure you that I have forgiven
you; you will yourself feel the certainty that I have done so.
Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing as
repudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no
idea what a true man's heart is like, Nora. There is something so
indescribably sweet and satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge
that he has forgiven his wife--forgiven her freely, and with all
his heart. It seems as if that had made her, as it were, doubly
his own; he has given her a new life, so to speak; and she has
in a way become both wife and child to him. So you shall be for
me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have no
anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me,
and I will serve as will and conscience both to you--. What
is this? Not gone to bed? Have you changed your things?

Nora (in everyday dress). Yes, Torvald, I have changed my things now.

Helmer. But what for?--so late as this.

Nora. I shall not sleep tonight.

Helmer. But, my dear Nora--

Nora (looking at her watch). It is not so very late. Sit down
here, Torvald. You and I have much to say to one another. (She
sits down at one side of the table.)

Helmer. Nora--what is this?--this cold, set face?

Nora. Sit down. It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over
with you.

Helmer (sits down at the opposite side of the table). You alarm
me, Nora!--and I don't understand you.

Nora. No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have
never understood you either--before tonight. No, you mustn't
interrupt me. You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald,
this is a settling of accounts.

Helmer. What do you mean by that?

Nora (after a short silence). Isn't there one thing that strikes
you as strange in our sitting here like this?

Helmer. What is that?

Nora. We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur
to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband
and wife, have had a serious conversation?

Helmer. What do you mean by serious?

Nora. In all these eight years--longer than that--from the very
beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on
any serious subject.

Helmer. Was it likely that I would be continually and forever
telling you about worries that you could not help me to bear?

Nora. I am not speaking about business matters. I say that we
have never sat down in earnest together to try and get at the
bottom of anything.

Helmer. But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to you?

Nora. That is just it; you have never understood me. I have been
greatly wronged, Torvald--first by papa and then by you.

Helmer. What! By us two--by us two, who have loved you better
than anyone else in the world?

Nora (shaking her head). You have never loved me. You have only
thought it pleasant to be in love with me.

Helmer. Nora, what do I hear you saying?

Nora. It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with
papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I
had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I
concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.
He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just
as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to
live with you--

Helmer. What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?

Nora (undisturbed). I mean that I was simply transferred from
papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything according to
your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as your else I
pretended to, I am really not quite sure which--I think
sometimes the one and sometimes the other. When I look back
on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a
poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely
to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it
so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me.
It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.

Helmer. How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have
you not been happy here?

Nora. No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has
never really been so.

Helmer. Not--not happy!

Nora. No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me.
But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been
your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and
here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun
when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun
when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.

Helmer. There is some truth in what you say--exaggerated and
strained as your view of it is. But for the future it shall be
different. Playtime shall be over, and lesson-time shall begin.

Nora. Whose lessons? Mine, or the children's?

Helmer. Both yours and the children's, my darling Nora.

Nora. Alas, Torvald, you are not the man to educate me into being
a proper wife for you.

Helmer. And you can say that!

Nora. And I--how am I fitted to bring up the children?

Helmer. Nora!

Nora. Didn't you say so yourself a little while ago--that you
dare not trust me to bring them up?

Helmer. In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed to that?

Nora. Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for the
task. There is another task I must undertake first. I must
try and educate myself--you are not the man to help me in
that. I must do that for myself. And that is why I am
going to leave you now.

Helmer (springing up). What do you say?

Nora. I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand myself and
everything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain
with you any longer.

Helmer. Nora, Nora!

Nora. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure Christine
will take me in for the night--

Helmer. You are out of your mind! I won't allow it! I forbid you!

Nora. It is no use forbidding me anything any longer. I will take
with me what belongs to myself. I will take nothing from you,
either now or later.

Helmer. What sort of madness is this!

Nora. Tomorrow I shall go home--I mean, to my old home. It will
be easiest for me to find something to do there.

Helmer. You blind, foolish woman!

Nora. I must try and get some sense, Torvald.

Helmer. To desert your home, your husband and your children! And
you don't consider what people will say!

Nora. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is
necessary for me.

Helmer. It's shocking. This is how you would neglect your most
sacred duties.

Nora. What do you consider my most sacred duties?

Helmer. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to
your husband and your children?

Nora. I have other duties just as sacred.

Helmer. That you have not. What duties could those be?

Nora. Duties to myself.

Helmer. Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.

Nora. I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all
else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all
events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well,
Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that
views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no
longer content myself with what most people say, or with
what is found in books. I must think over things for myself
and get to understand them.

Helmer. Can you not understand your place in your own home?
Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as that?--have
you no religion?

Nora. I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is.

Helmer. What are you saying?

Nora. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went
to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that,
and the other. When I am away from all this, and am alone,
I will look into that matter too. I will see if what the
clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is true for me.

Helmer. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion
cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I
suppose you have some moral sense? Or--answer me--am I to think you
have none?

Nora. I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question to answer.
I really don't know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only
know that you and I look at it in quite a different light.
I am learning, too, that the law is quite another thing from
what I supposed; but I find it impossible to convince myself
that the law is right. According to it a woman has no right
to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband's
life. I can't believe that.

Helmer. You talk like a child. You don't understand the
conditions of the world in which you live.

Nora. No, I don't. But now I am going to try. I am going
to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I.

Helmer. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you
are out of your mind.

Nora. I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.

Helmer. And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake
your husband and your children?

Nora. Yes, it is.

Helmer. Then there is only one possible explanation.

Nora. What is that?

Helmer. You do not love me anymore.

Nora. No, that is just it.

Helmer. Nora!--and you can say that?

Nora. It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always been
so kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.

Helmer (regaining his composure). Is that a clear and certain
conviction too?

Nora. Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I
will not stay here any longer.

Helmer. And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit your love?

Nora. Yes, indeed I can. It was tonight, when the wonderful thing did not
happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you were.

Helmer. Explain yourself better. I don't understand you.

Nora. I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness
knows, I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every
day. Then this horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt
quite certain that the wonderful thing was going to happen at last.
When Krogstad's letter was lying out there, never for a moment
did I imagine that you would consent to accept this man's
conditions. I was so absolutely certain that you would say
to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that was done--

Helmer. Yes, what then?--when I had exposed my wife to shame and
disgrace?

Nora. When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would
come forward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the
guilty one.

Helmer. Nora--!

Nora. You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice
on your part? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have
been worth against yours? That was the wonderful thing which I
hoped for and feared; and it was to prevent that, that I wanted
to kill myself.

Helmer. I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora--bear
sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his
honour for the one he loves.

Nora. It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.

Helmer. Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.

Nora. Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I
could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over--and it
was not fear for what threatened me, but for what might happen
to you--when the whole thing was past, as far as you were
concerned it was exactly as if nothing at all had happened.
Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your doll,
which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care,
because it was so brittle and fragile. (Getting up.)
Torvald--it was then it dawned upon me that for eight
years I had been living here with a strange man, and had
borne him three children--. Oh, I can't bear to think
of it! I could tear myself into little bits!

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