Part 2 out of 2
in the eyes of the world, so to speak. We men ought not judge a
poor woman too hardly, Mr. Manders.
Manders. But I am not doing so at all. It is you I am blaming.
Engstrand. Will your reverence grant me leave to ask you a small
Manders. Ask away.
Engstrand. Shouldn't you say it was right for a man to raise up
Manders. Of course it is.
Engstrand. And isn't a man bound to keep his word of honour?
Manders. Certainly he is; but--
Engstrand. At the time when Joanna had her misfortune with this
Englishman--or maybe he was an American or a Russian, as they
call 'em--well, sir, then she came to town. Poor thing, she had
refused me once or twice before; she only had eyes for good-
looking men in those days, and I had this crooked leg then. Your
reverence will remember how I had ventured up into a dancing-
saloon where seafaring men were revelling in drunkenness and
intoxication, as they say. And when I tried to exhort them to
turn from their evil ways--
Mrs. Alving (coughs from the window). Ahem!
Manders. I know, Engstrand, I know--the rough brutes threw you
downstairs. You have told me about that incident before. The
affliction to your leg is a credit to you.
Engstrand. I don't want to claim credit for it, your reverence.
But what I wanted to tell you was that she came then and confided
in me with tears and gnashing of teeth. I can tell you, sir, it
went to my heart to hear her.
Manders. Did it, indeed, Engstrand? Well, what then?
Engstrand. Well, then I said to her: "The American is roaming
about on the high seas, he is. And you, Joanna," I said, "you
have committed a sin and are a fallen woman. But here stands
Jacob Engstrand," I said, "on two strong legs"--of course that
was only speaking in a kind of metaphor, as it were, your
Manders. I quite understand. Go on.
Engstrand. Well, sir, that was how I rescued her and made her my
lawful wife, so that no one should know how recklessly she had
carried on with the stranger.
Manders. That was all very kindly done. The only thing I cannot
justify was your bringing yourself to accept the money.
Engstrand. Money? I? Not a farthing.
Manders (to MRS. ALVING, in a questioning tare). But--
Engstrand. Ah, yes!--wait a bit; I remember now. Joanna did have
a trifle of money, you are quite right. But I didn't want to know
anything about that. "Fie," I said, "on the mammon of
unrighteousness, it's the price of your sin; as for this tainted
gold"--or notes, or whatever it was--"we will throw it back in
the American's face," I said. But he had gone away and
disappeared on the stormy seas, your reverence.
Manders. Was that how it was, my good fellow?
Engstrand. It was, sir. So then Joanna and I decided that the
money should go towards the child's bringing-up, and that's what
became of it; and I can give a faithful account of every single
penny of it.
Manders. This alters the complexion of the affair very
Engstrand. That's how it was, your reverence. And I make bold to
say that I have been a good father to Regina--as far as was in my
power--for I am a poor erring mortal, alas!
Manders. There, there, my dear Engstrand.
Engstrand. Yes, I do make bold to say that I brought up the
child, and made my poor Joanna a loving and careful husband, as
the Bible says we ought. But it never occurred to me to go to
your reverence and claim credit for it or boast about it because
I had done one good deed in this world. No; when Jacob Engstrand
does a thing like that, he holds his tongue about it.
Unfortunately it doesn't often happen, I know that only too well.
And whenever I do come to see your reverence, I never seem to
have anything but trouble and wickedness to talk about. Because,
as I said just now--and I say it again--conscience can be very
hard on us sometimes.
Manders. Give me your hand, Jacob Engstrand,
Engstrand. Oh, sir, I don't like--
Manders. No nonsense, (Grasps his hand.) That's it!
Engstrand. And may I make bold humbly to beg your reverence's
Manders. You? On the contrary it is for me to beg your pardon--
Engstrand. Oh no, sir.
Manders. Yes, certainly it is, and I do it with my whole heart.
Forgive me for having so much misjudged you. And I assure you
that if I can do anything for you to prove my sincere regret and
my goodwill towards you--
Engstrand. Do you mean it, sir?
Manders. It would give me the greatest pleasure.
Engstrand. As a matter of fact, sir, you could do it now. I am
thinking of using the honest money I have put away out of my
wages up here, in establishing a sort of Sailors' Home in the
Mrs. Alving. You?
Engstrand. Yes, to be a sort of Refuge, as it were, There are
such manifold temptations lying in wait for sailor men when they
are roaming about on shore. But my idea is that in this house of
mine they should have a sort of parental care looking after them.
Menders. What do you say to that, Mrs. Alving!
Engstrand. I haven't much to begin such a work with, I know; but
Heaven might prosper it, and if I found any helping hand
stretched out to me, then--
Manders. Quite so; we will talk over the matter further. Your
project attracts me enormously. But in the meantime go back to
the Orphanage and put everything tidy and light the lights, so
that the occasion may seem a little solemn. And then we will
spend a little edifying time together, my dear Engstrand, for now
I am sure you are in a suitable frame of mind.
Engstrand. I believe I am, sir, truly. Goodbye, then, Mrs.
Alving, and thank you for all your kindness; and take good care
of Regina for me. (Wipes a tear from his eye.) Poor Joanna's
child-- it is an extraordinary thing, but she seems to have grown
into my life and to hold me by the heartstrings. That's how I
feel about it, truly. (Bows, and goes out.)
Manders. Now then, what do you think of him, Mrs Alving! That was
quite another explanation that he gave us.
Mrs. Alving. It was, indeed.
Manders. There, you see how exceedingly careful we ought to be in
condemning our fellow-men. But at the same time it gives one
genuine pleasure to find that one was mistaken. Don't you think
Mrs. Alving. What I think is that you are, and always will
remain, a big baby, Mr. Manders.
Mrs. Alving (laying her hands on his shoulders). And I think that
I should like very much to give you a good hug.
Manders (drawing beck hastily). No, no, good gracious! What an
Mrs. Alving (with a smile). Oh, you needn't be afraid of me.
Manders (standing by the table). You choose such an extravagant
way of expressing yourself sometimes. Now I must get these papers
together and put them in my bag. (Does so.) That's it. And now
goodbye, for the present. Keep your eyes open when Oswald comes
back. I will come back and see you again presently.
(He takes his hat and goes out by the hall door. MRS. ALVING
sighs, glances out of the window, puts one or two things tidy in
the room and turns to go into the dining-room. She stops in the
doorway with a stifled cry.)
Mrs. Alving. Oswald, are you still sitting at table!
Oswald (from the dining-room). I am only finishing my cigar.
Mrs. Alving. I thought you had gone out for a little turn.
Oswald (from within the room). In weather like this? (A glass is
heard clinking. MRS. ALVING leaves the door open and sits down
with her knitting on the couch by the window.) Wasn't that Mr.
Manders that went out just now?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, he has gone over to the Orphanage.
Oswald. Oh. (The clink of a bottle on a glass is heard again.)
Mrs. Alving (with an uneasy expression.) Oswald, dear, you should
be careful with that liqueur. It is strong.
Oswald. It's a good protective against the damp.
Mrs. Alving. Wouldn't you rather come in here?
Oswald. You know you don't like smoking in there.
Mrs. Alving. You may smoke a cigar in here, certainly.
Oswald. All right; I will come in, then. Just one drop more.
There! (Comes in, smoking a cigar, and shuts the door after him.
A short silence.) Where has the parson gone?
Mrs. Alving. I told you he had gone over to the Orphanage.
Oswald. Oh, so you did.
Mrs. Alving. You shouldn't sit so long at table, Oswald,
Oswald (holding his cigar behind his back). But it's so nice and
cosy, mother dear. (Caresses her with one hand.) Think what it
means to me--to have come home; to sit at my mother's own table,
in my mother's own room, and to enjoy the charming meals she
Mrs. Alving. My dear, dear boy!
Oswald (a little impatiently, as he walks tip and down smoking.)
And what else is there for me to do here? I have no occupation--
Mrs. Alving. No occupation?
Oswald. Not in this ghastly weather, when there isn't a blink of
sunshine all day long. (Walks up and down the floor.) Not to be
able to work, it's--!
Mrs. Alving. I don't believe you were wise to come home.
Oswald. Yes, mother; I had to.
Mrs. Alving. Because I would ten times rather give up the
happiness of having you with me, sooner than that you should--
Oswald (standing still by the table). Tell me, mother--is it
really such a great happiness for you to have me at home?
Mrs. Alving. Can you ask?
Oswald (crumpling up a newspaper). I should have thought it would
have been pretty much the same to you whether I were here or
Mrs. Alving. Have you the heart to say that to your mother,
Oswald. But you have been quite happy living without me so far.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, I have lived without you--that is true.
(A silence. The dusk falls by degrees. OSWALD walks restlessly up
and down. He has laid aside his cigar.) Oswald (stopping beside
MRS. ALVING). Mother, may I sit on the couch beside you?
Mrs. Alving. Of course, my dear boy.
Oswald (sitting down). Now I must tell you something mother.
Mrs. Alving (anxiously). What?
Oswald (staring in front of him). I can't bear it any longer.
Mrs. Alving. Bear what? What do you mean?
Oswald (as before). I couldn't bring myself to write to you about
it; and since I have been at home--
Mrs. Alving (catching him by the arm). Oswald, what is it?
Oswald. Both yesterday and today I have tried to push my
thoughts away from me--to free myself from them. But I can't.
Mrs. Alving (getting up). You must speak plainly, Oswald!
Oswald (drawing her down to her seat again). Sit still, and I
will try and tell you. I have made a great deal of the fatigue I
felt after my journey--
Mrs. Alving. Well, what of that?
Oswald. But that isn't what is the matter. It is no ordinary
Mrs. Alving (trying to get up). You are not ill, Oswald!
Oswald (pulling her down again). Sit still, mother. Do take it
quietly. I am not exactly ill--not ill in the usual sense. (Takes
his head in his hands.) Mother, it's my mind that has broken
down--gone to pieces--I shall never be able to work anymore!
(Buries his face in his hands and throws himself at her knees in
an outburst of sobs.)
Mrs. Alving (pale and trembling). Oswald! Look at me! No, no, it
Oswald (looking up with a distracted expression). Never to be
able to work anymore! Never--never! A living death! Mother, can
you imagine anything so horrible!
Mrs. Alving. My poor unhappy boy? How has this terrible thing
Oswald (sitting up again). That is just what I cannot possibly
understand. I have never lived recklessly, in any sense. You must
believe that of me, mother, I have never done that.
Mrs. Alving. I haven't a doubt of it, Oswald.
Oswald. And yet this comes upon me all the same; this terrible
Mrs. Alving. Oh, but it will all come right again, my dear
precious boy. It is nothing but overwork. Believe me, that is so.
Oswald (dully). I thought so too, at first; but it isn't so.
Mrs. Alving. Tell me all about it.
Oswald. Yes, I will.
Mrs. Alving. When did you first feel anything?
Oswald. It was just after I had been home last time and had got
back to Paris. I began to feel the most violent pains in my head-
-mostly at the back, I think. It was as if a tight band of iron
was pressing on me from my neck upwards.
Mrs. Alving. And then?
Oswald. At first I thought it was nothing but the headaches I
always used to be so much troubled with while I was growing.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, yes.
Oswald. But it wasn't; I soon saw that. I couldn't work any
longer. I would try and start some big new picture; but it seemed
as if all my faculties had forsaken me, as if all my strengths
were paralysed. I couldn't manage to collect my thoughts; my head
seemed to swim--everything went round and round. It was a
horrible feeling! At last I sent for a doctor--and from him I
learned the truth.
Mrs. Alving. In what way, do you mean?
Oswald. He was one of the best doctors there. He made me describe
what I felt, and then he began to ask me a whole heap of
questions which seemed to me to have nothing to do with the
matter. I couldn't see what he was driving at--
Mrs. Alving. Well?
Oswald. At last he said: "You have had the canker of disease in
you practically from your birth"--the actual word he used was "vermoulu"...
Mrs. Alving (anxiously). What did he mean by that? Oswald. I
couldn't understand, either--and I asked him for a clearer
explanation, And then the old cynic said--(clenching his fist).
Mrs. Alving. What did he say?
Oswald. He said: "The sins of the fathers are visited on the
Mrs. Alving (getting up slowly). The sins of the fathers--!
Oswald. I nearly struck him in the face.
Mrs. Alving (walking across the room). The sins of the fathers--!
Oswald (smiling sadly). Yes, just imagine! Naturally I assured
him that what he thought was impossible. But do you think he paid
any heed to me? No, he persisted in his opinion; and it was only
when I got out your letters and translated to him all the
passages that referred to my father--
Mrs. Alving. Well, and then?
Oswald. Well, then of course he had to admit that he was on the
wrong track; and then I learned the truth-- the incomprehensible
truth! I ought to have had nothing to do with the joyous happy
life I had lived with my comrades. It had been too much for my
strength. So it was my own fault!
Mrs. Alving. No, no, Oswald! Don't believe that--
Oswald. There was no other explanation of it possible, he said.
That is the most horrible part of it. My whole life incurably
ruined--just because of my own imprudence. All that I wanted to do
in the world-=not to dare to think of it any more--not to be able
to think of it! Oh! if only I could live my life over again--if
only I could undo what I have done! (Throws himself on his face
on the couch. MRS. ALVING wrings her hands, and walks up and down
silently fighting with herself.)
Oswald (looks up after a while, raising himself on his elbows).
If only it had been something I had inherited--something I could
not help. But, instead of that, to have disgracefully, stupidly,
thoughtlessly thrown away one's happiness, one's health,
everything in the world--one's future, one's life!
Mrs. Alving. No, no, my darling boy; that is impossible! (Bending
over him.) Things are not so desperate as you think.
Oswald. Ah, you don't know--(Springs up.) And to think, mother,
that I should bring all this sorrow upon you! Many a time I have
almost wished and hoped that you really did not care so very much
Mrs. Alving. I, Oswald? My only son! All that I have in the
world! The only thing I care about!
Oswald (taking hold of her hands and kissing them). Yes, yes, I
know that is so. When I am at home I know that is true. And that
is one of the hardest parts of it to me. But now you know all
about it; and now we won't talk anymore about it today. I can't
stand thinking about it long at a time. (Walks across the room.)
Let me have something to drink, mother!
Mrs. Alving. To drink? What do you want?
Oswald. Oh, anything you like. I suppose you have got some punch
in the house.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, but my dear Oswald--!
Oswald. Don't tell me I mustn't, mother. Do be nice! I must have
something to drown these gnawing thoughts. (Goes into the
conservatory.) And how--how gloomy it is here! (MRS. ALVING rings
the bell.) And this incessant rain. It may go on week after week-
-a whole month. Never a ray of sunshine. I don't remember ever
having seen the sunshine once when I have been at home.
Mrs. Alving. Oswald--you are thinking of going away from me!
Oswald. Hm!--(sighs deeply). I am not thinking about anything. I
can't think about anything! (In a low voice.) I have to let that
Regina (coming from the dining-room). Did you ring, ma'am?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, let us have the lamp in.
Regina. In a moment, ma'am; it is all ready lit. (Goes out.)
Mrs. Alving (going up to OSWALD). Oswald, don't keep anything
back from me.
Oswald. I don't, mother. (Goes to the table.) It seems to me I
have told you a good lot.
(REGINA brings the lamp and puts it upon the table.)
Mrs. Alving. Regina, you might bring us a small bottle of
Regina. Yes, ma'am. (Goes out.)
Oswald (taking hold of his mother's face). That's right; I knew
my mother wouldn't let her son go thirsty.
Mrs, Alving. My poor dear boy, how could I refuse you anything
Oswald (eagerly). Is that true, mother? Do you mean it?
Mrs. Alving. Mean what?
Oswald. That you couldn't deny me anything?
Mrs. Alving. My dear Oswald--
(REGINA brings in a tray with a small bottle of champagne and two
glasses, which she puts on the table.)
Regina. Shall I open the bottle?
Oswald. No, thank you, I will do it. (REGINA goes out.)
Mrs, Alving (sitting clown at the table). What did you mean, when
you asked if I could refuse you nothing?
Oswald (busy opening the bottle). Let us have a glass first--or
(He draws the cork, fills one glass and is going to fill the
Mrs. Alving (holding her hand over the second glass) No, thanks--
not for me.
Oswald. Oh, well, for me then! (He empties his glass, fills it
again and empties it; then sits down at the table.)
Mrs. Alving (expectantly). Now, tell me.
Oswald (without looking at her). Tell me this; I thought you and
Mr. Manders seemed so strange--so quiet--at dinner.
Mrs. Alving. Did you notice that?
Oswald. Yes. Ahem! (After a short pause.) Tell me--what do you
think of Regina?
Mrs. Alving. What do I think of her?
Oswald. Yes, isn't she splendid!
Mrs. Alving. Dear Oswald, you don't know her as well as I do--
Oswald. What of that?
Mrs. Alving. Regina was too long at home, unfortunately. I ought
to have taken her under my charge sooner.
Oswald. Yes, but isn't she splendid to look at, mother? (Fills
Mrs. Alving. Regina has many serious faults--
Oswald. Yes, but what of that? (Drinks.)
Mrs. Alving. But I am fond of her, all the same; and I have made
myself responsible for her. I wouldn't for the world she should
come to any harm.
Oswald (jumping up). Mother, Regina is my only hope of salvation!
Mrs. Alving (getting up). What do you mean?
Oswald. I can't go on bearing all this agony of mind alone.
Mrs. Alving, Haven't you your mother to help you to bear it?
Oswald. Yes, I thought so; that was why I came home to you. But
it is no use; I see that it isn't. I cannot spend my life here.
Mrs. Alving. Oswald!
Oswald. I must live a different sort of life, mother; so I shall
have to go away from you, I don't want you watching it.
Mrs. Alving. My unhappy boy! But, Oswald, as long as you are ill
Oswald. If it was only a matter of feeling ill, I would stay with
you, mother. You are the best friend I have in the world.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, I am that, Oswald, am I not?
Oswald (walking restlessly about). But all this torment--the
regret, the remorse--and the deadly fear. Oh--this horrible fear!
Mrs. Alving (following him). Fear? Fear of what? What do you
Oswald. Oh, don't ask me any more about it. I don't know what it
is. I can't put it into words. (MRS. ALVING crosses the room and
rings the bell.) What do you want?
Mrs. Alving. I want my boy to be happy, that's what I want. He
mustn't brood over anything. (To REGINA, who has come to the
door.) More champagne-- a large bottle.
Mrs. Alving. Do you think we country people don't know how to
Oswald. Isn't she splendid to look at? What a figure! And the
picture of health!
Mrs. Alving (sitting down at the table). Sit down, Oswald, and
let us have a quiet talk.
Oswald (sitting down). You don't know, mother, that I owe Regina
a little reparation.
Mrs. Alving. You!
Oswald. Oh, it was only a little thoughtlessness--call it what
you like. Something quite innocent, anyway. The last time I was
Mrs. Alving. Yes?
Oswald. --she used often to ask me questions about Paris, and I
told her one thing and another about the life there. And I
remember saying one day: "Wouldn't you like to go there yourself?"
Mrs. Alving. Well?
Oswald. I saw her blush, and she said: "Yes, I should like to
very much." "All right." I said, "I daresay it might be managed"-
-or something of that sort.
Mrs. Alving. And then?
Oswald. I naturally had forgotten all about it; but the day
before yesterday I happened to ask her if she was glad I was to
be so long at home--
Mrs. Alving. Well?
Oswald. --and she looked so queerly at me, and asked: "But what
is to become of my trip to Paris? "
Mrs. Alving. Her trip!
Oswald. And then I got it out of her that she had taken the thing
seriously, and had been thinking about me all the time, and had
set herself to learn French--
Mrs. Alving. So that was why--
Oswald. Mother--when I saw this fine, splendid, handsome girl
standing there in front of me--I had never paid any attention to
her before then--but now, when she stood there as if with open
arms ready for me to take her to myself--
Mrs. Alving. Oswald!
Oswald. --then I realised that my salvation lay in her, for I saw
the joy of life in her!
Mrs. Alving (starting back). The joy of life--? Is there
salvation in that?
Regina (coming in from the dining-room with a bottle of
champagne). Excuse me for being so long; but I had to go to the
cellar. (Puts the bottle down on the table.)
Oswald. Bring another glass, too.
Regina (looking at him in astonishment). The mistress's glass is
Oswald. Yes, but fetch one for yourself, Regina (REGINA starts,
and gives a quick shy glance at MRS. ALVING.) Well?
Regina (in a low and hesitating voice). Do you wish me to, ma'am?
Mrs. Alving. Fetch the glass, Regina. (REGINA goes into the
Oswald (looking after her). Have you noticed how well she walks?-
-so firmly and confidently!
Mrs. Alving. It cannot be, Oswald.
Oswald. It is settled. You must see that. It is no use forbidding
it. (REGINA comes in with a gloss, which she holds in her hand.)
Sit down, Regina. (REGINA looks questioningly at MRS. ALVING.)
Mrs. Alving. Sit down. (REGINA sits down on a chair near the
dining-room door, still holding the glass in her hand.) Oswald,
what was it you were saying about the joy of life?
Oswald. Ah, mother--the joy of life! You don't know very much
about that at home here. I shall never realise it here.
Mrs. Alving. Not even when you are with me?
Oswald. Never at home. But you can't understand that.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, indeed I almost think I do understand you now.
Oswald. That--and the joy of work. They are really the same thing
at bottom. Put you don't know anything about that either.
Mrs. Alving. Perhaps you are right. Tell me some more about it,
Oswald. Well, all I mean is that here people are brought up to
believe that work is a curse and a punishment for sin, and that
life is a state of wretchedness and that the sooner we can get
out of it the better.
Mrs. Alving. A vale of tears, yes. And we quite conscientiously
make it so.
Oswald. But the people over there will have none of that. There
is no one there who really believes doctrines of that kind any
longer. Over there the mere fact of being alive is thought to be
a matter for exultant happiness. Mother, have you noticed that
everything I have painted has turned upon the joy of life?--
always upon the joy of life, unfailingly. There is light there,
and sunshine, and a holiday feeling--and people's faces beaming
with happiness. That is why I am afraid to stay at home here with
Mrs. Alving. Afraid? What are you afraid of here, with me?
Oswald. I am afraid that all these feelings that are so strong in
me would degenerate into something ugly here.
Mrs. Alving (looking steadily at him). Do you think that is what
Oswald. I am certain it would. Even if one lived the same life at
home here, as over there--it would never really be the same life.
Mrs. Alving (who has listened anxiously to him, gets up with a
thoughtful expression and says:) Now I see clearly how it all
Oswald. What do you see?
Mrs. Alving. I see it now for the first time. And now I can
Oswald (getting up). Mother, I don't understand you.
Regina (who has got up also). Perhaps I had better go.
Mrs. Alving. No, stay here. Now I can speak. Now, my son, you
shall know the whole truth. Oswald! Regina!
Oswald. Hush!--here is the parson.
(MANDERS comes in by the hall door.)
Manders. Well, my friends, we have been spending an edifying time
Oswald. So have we.
Manders. Engstrand must have help with his Sailors Home. Regina
must go home with him and give him her assistance.
Regina. No, thank you, Mr. Manders.
Manders (perceiving her for the first time). What--?You in here?--
and with a wineglass in your hand!
Regina (putting down the glass hastily). I beg your pardon--!
Oswald. Regina is going away with me, Mr. Manders.
Manders. Going away! With you!
Oswald. Yes, as my wife--if she insists on that.
Manders. But, good heavens--!
Regina. It is not my fault, Mr. Manders.
Oswald. Or else she stays here if I stay.
Regina (involuntarily). Here!
Manders. I am amazed at you, Mrs. Alving.
Mrs. Alving. Neither of those things will happen, for now I can
Manders. But you won't do that! No, no, no!
Mrs. Alving. Yes, I can and I will. And without destroying anyone's ideals.
Oswald. Mother, what is it that is being concealed from me?
Regina (listening). Mrs. Alving! Listen! They are shouting
(Goes into the conservatory and looks out.)
Oswald (going to the window on the left). What can be the matter?
Where does that glare come from?
Regina (calls out). The Orphanage is on fire!
Mrs. Alving (going to the window). On fire?
Manders. On fire? Impossible. I was there just a moment ago.
Oswald. Where is my hat? Oh, never mind that. Father's Orphanage--!
(Runs out through the garden door.)
Mrs. Alving. My shawl, Regina! The whole place is in flames.
Manders. How terrible! Mrs. Alving, that fire is a judgment on
this house of sin!
Mrs. Alving. Quite so. Come, Regina.
(She and REGINA hurry out.)
Manders (clasping his hands). And no insurance! (Follows them
(The same scene. All the doors are standing open. The lamp is
still burning on the table. It is dark outside, except for a
faint glimmer of light seen through the windows at the back.
MRS. ALVING, with a shawl over her head, is standing in the
conservatory, looking out. REGINA, also wrapped in a shawl, is
standing a little behind her.)
Mrs. Alving. Everything bured--down to the ground.
Regina. It is burning still in the basement.
Mrs. Alving. I can't think why Oswald doesn't come hack. There is
no chance of saving anything.
Regina. Shall I go and take his hat to him?
Mrs. Alving. Hasn't he even got his hat?
Regina (pointing to the hall). No, there it is, hanging up.
Mrs. Alving. Never mind. He is sure to come back soon. I will go
and see what he is doing. (Goes out by the garden door. MANDERS
comes in from the hall.)
Manders. Isn't Mrs. Alving here?
Regina. She has just this moment gone down into the garden.
Manders. I have never spent such a terrible night in my life.
Regina. Isn't it a shocking misfortune, sir!
Manders. Oh, don't speak about it. I scarcely dare to think about
Regina. But how can it have happened?
Manders. Don't ask me, Miss Engstrand! How should I know? Are you
going to suggest too--? Isn't it enough that your father--?
Regina. What has he done?
Manders. He has nearly driven me crazy.
Engstrand (coming in from the hall). Mr. Manders--!
Manders (turning round with a start). Have you ever followed me
Engstrand. Yes, God help us all--! Great heavens! What a dreadful
thing, your reverence!
Manders (walking u¢ and down). Oh dear, oh dear!
Regina. What do you mean?
Engstrand. Our little prayer-meeting was the cause of it all,
don't you see? (Aside, to REGINA.) Now we've got the old fool, my
girl. (Aloud.) And to think it is my fault that Mr. Manders
should be the cause of such a thing!
Manders. I assure you, Engstrand--
Engstrand. But there was no one else carrying a light there
except you, sir.
Manders (standing still). Yes, so you say. But I have no clear
recollection of having had a light in my hand.
Engstrand. But I saw quite distinctly your reverence take a
candle and snuff it with your fingers and throw away the burning
bit of wick among the shavings.
Manders. Did you see that?
Engstrand. Yes, distinctly.
Manders. I can't understand it at all. It is never my habit to
snuff a candle with my fingers.
Engstrand. Yes, it wasn't like you to do that, sir. But, who
would have thought it could be such a dangerous thing to do?
Manders (walking restlessly backwards and forwards) Oh, don't ask
Engstrand (following him about). And you hadn't insured it
either, had you, sir?
Manders. No, no, no; you heard me say so.
Engstrand. You hadn't insured it--and then went and set light to
the whole place! Good Lord, what bad luck!
Manders (wiping the perspiration from his forehead). You may well
say so, Engstrand.
Engstrand. And that it should happen to a charitable institution
that would have been of service both to the town and the country,
so to speak! The newspapers won't be very kind to your reverence,
Manders. No, that is just what I am thinking of. It is almost the
worst part of the whole thing. The spiteful attacks and
accusations--it is horrible to think of!
Mrs. Alving (coming in from the garden). I can't get him away
from the fire.
Manders. Oh, there you are, Mrs. Alving.
Mrs. Alving. You will escape having to make your inaugural
address now, at all events, Mr. Manders.
Manders. Oh, I would so gladly have--
Mrs. Alving (in a dull voice). It is just as well it has
happened. This Orphanage would never have come to any good.
Manders. Don't you think so?
Mrs. Alving. Do you?
Manders. But it is none the less an extraordinary piece of ill
Mrs: Alving. We will discuss it simply as a business matter. Are
you waiting for Mr. Manders, Engstrand?
Engstrand (at the hall door). Yes, I am.
Mrs. Alving. Sit down then, while you are waiting.
Engstrand. Thank you, I would rather stand.
Mrs. Alving (to MANDERS). I suppose you are going by the boat?
Manders. Yes: It goes in about an hour--
Mrs. Alving. Please take all the documents back with you. I don't
want to hear another word about the matter. I have something else
to think about now.
Manders. Mrs. Alving--
Mrs. Alving. Later on I will send you a power of attorney to deal
with it exactly as you please.
Manders. I shall be most happy to undertake that; I am afraid the
original intention of the bequest will have to be entirely
Mrs. Alving. Of course.
Meanders. Provisionally, I should suggest this way of disposing
of it: Make over the Solvik property to the parish. The land is
undoubtedly not without a certain value; it will always be useful
for some purpose or another. And as for the interest on the
remaining capital that is on deposit in the bank, possibly I
might make suitable use of that in support of some undertaking
that promises to be of use to the town.
Mrs. Alving. Do exactly as you please. The whole thing is a
matter of indifference to me now.
Engstrand. You will think of my Sailors' Home, Mr, Manders?
Manders. Yes, certainly, that is a suggestion. But we must
consider the matter carefully.
Engstrand (aside). Consider!--devil take it! Oh Lord.
Manders (sighing). And unfortunately I can't tell how much longer
I may have anything to do with the matter--whether public opinion
may not force me to retire from it altogether. That depends
entirely upon the result of the inquiry into the cause of the
Mrs. Alving. What do you say?
Manders. And one cannot in any way reckon upon the result
Engstrand (going nearer to him). Yes, indeed one can; because
here stand I, Jacob Engstrand.
Manders. Quite so, but--
Engstrand (lowering his voice). And Jacob Engstrand isn't the man
to desert a worthy benefactor in the hour of need, as the saying
Manders. Yes, but, my dear fellow-how--?
Engstrand. You might say Jacob Engstrand is an angel of
salvation, so to speak, your reverence.
Manders. No, no, I couldn't possibly accept that.
Engstrand. That's how it will be, all the same. I know someone
who has taken the blame for someone else on his shoulders before
now, I do.
Manders. Jacob! (Grasps his hand.) You are one in a thousand! You
shall have assistance in the matter of your Sailors' Home, you
may rely upon that.
(ENGSTRAND tries to thank him, but is prevented by emotion.)
Manders (hanging his wallet over his shoulder). Now we must be
off. We will travel together.
Engstrand (by the dining-room door, says aside to REGINA). Come
with me, you hussy! You shall be as cosy as the yolk in an egg!
Regina (tossing her head). Merci!
(She goes out into the hall and brings back MANDERS' luggage.)
Manders. Good-bye, Mrs. Alving! And may the spirit of order and
of what is lawful speedily enter into this house.
Mrs. Alving. Goodbye, Mr. Manders.
(She goes into the conservatory, as she sees OSWALD coming in by
the garden door.)
Engstrand (as he and REGINA are helping MANDERS on with his
coat). Goodbye, my child. And if anything should happen to you,
you know where Jacob Engstrand is to be found. (Lowering his
voice.) Little Harbour Street, ahem--! (To MRS. ALVING and
OSWALD.) And my house for poor seafaring men shall be called the
"Alving Home," it shall. And, if I can carry out my own ideas
about it, I shall make bold to hope that it may be worthy of
bearing the late Mr. Alving's name.
Manders (at the door). Ahem--ahem! Come along, my dear Engstrand.
(He and ENGSTRAND go out by the hall door.)
Oswald (going to the table). What house was he speaking about?
Mrs. Alving. I believe it is some sort of a Home that he and Mr.
Manders want to start.
Oswald. It will be burned up just like this one.
Mrs. Alving. What makes you think that?
Oswald. Everything will be burned up; nothing will be left that is
in memory of my father. Here am I being burned up, too.
(REGINA looks at him in alarm.)
Mrs. Alving. Oswald! You should not have stayed so long over
there, my poor boy.
Oswald (sitting down at the table). I almost believe you are
Mrs: Alving. Let me dry your face, Oswald; you are all wet.
(Wipes his face with her handkerchief.)
Oswald (looking straight before him, with no expression in his
eyes). Thank you, mother.
Mrs. Alving. And aren't you tired, Oswald? Don't you want to go
Oswald (uneasily). No, no--not to sleep! I never sleep; I only
pretend to. (Gloomily.) That will come soon enough.
Mrs. Alving (looking at him anxiously). Anyhow you are really
ill, my darling boy.
Regina (intently). Is Mr. Alving ill?
Oswald (impatiently). And do shut all the doors! This deadly
Mrs. Alving. Shut the doors, Regina. (REGINA shuts the doors and
remains standing by the hall door. MRS, ALVING takes off her
shawl; REGINA does the same. MRS. ALVING draws up a chair near to
OSWALD'S and sits down beside him.) That's it! Now I will sit
Oswald. Yes, do. And Regina must stay in here too; Regina must
always be near me. You must give me a helping hand, you know,
Regina. Won't you do that?
Regina. I don't understand--
Mrs. Alving. A helping hand?
Oswald. Yes--when there is need for it.
Mrs: Alving. Oswald, have you not your mother to give you a
Oswald. You? (Smiles.) No, mother, you will never give me the
kind of helping hand I mean. (Laughs grimly.) You! Ha, ha! (Looks
gravely at her.) After all, you have the best right.
(Impetuously.) Why don't you call me by my Christian name,
Regina? Why don't you say Oswald?
Regina (in a low voice). I did not think Mrs. Alving would like
Mrs. Alving. It will not be long before you have the right to do
it. Sit down here now beside us, too. (REGINA sits down quietly
and hesitatingly at the other side of the table.) And now, my
poor tortured boy, I am going to take the burden off your mind--
Oswald. You, mother?
Mrs. Alving. --all that you call remorse and regret and self-
Oswald. And you think you can do that?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, now I can, Oswald. A little while ago you were
talking about the joy of life, and what you said seemed to shed a
new light upon everything in my whole life.
Oswald (shaking his head). I don't in the least understand what
Mrs. Alving. You should have known your father in his young days
in the army. He was full of the joy of life, I can tell you.
Oswald. Yes, I know.
Mrs. Alving. It gave me a holiday feeling only to look at him,
full of irrepressible energy and exuberant spirits.
Oswald. What then?
Mrs. Alving, Well, then this boy, full of the joy of life--for he
was just like a boy, then--had to make his home in a second-rate
town which had none of the joy of life to offer him, but only
dissipations. He had to come out here and live an aimless life;
he had only an official post. He had no work worth devoting his
whole mind to; he had nothing more than official routine to
attend to. He had not a single companion capable of appreciating
what the joy of life meant; nothing but idlers and tipplers...
Mrs. Alving. And so the inevitable happened!
Oswald. What was the inevitable?
Mrs. Alving. You said yourself this evening what would happen in
your case if you stayed at home.
Oswald. Do you mean by that, that father--?
Mrs. Alving. Your poor father never found any outlet for the
overmastering joy of life that was in him. And I brought no
holiday spirit into his home, either.
Oswald. You didn't, either?
Mrs. Alving. I had been taught about duty, and the sort of thing
that I believed in so long here. Everything seemed to turn upon
duty--my duty, or his duty--and I am afraid I made your poor
father's home unbearable to him, Oswald.
Oswald. Why didn't you ever say anything about it to me in your
Mrs. Alving. I never looked at it as a thing I could speak of to
you, who were his son.
Oswald. What way did you look at it, then?
Mrs. Alving. I only saw the one fact, that your father was a lost
man before ever you were born.
Oswald (in a choking voice). Ah--! (He gets up and goes to the
Mrs. Alving. And then I had the one thought in my mind, day and
night, that Regina in fact had as good a right in this house--as
my own boy had.
Oswald (turns round suddenly), Regina--?
Regina (gets up and asks in choking tones). I--?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, now you both know it.
Regina (to herself). So mother was one of that sort too.
Mrs. Alving. Your mother had many good qualities, Regina.
Regina. Yes, but she was one of that sort too, all the same. I
have even thought so myself, sometimes, but--. Then, if you
please, Mrs. Alving, may I have permission to leave at once?
Mrs. Alving. Do you really wish to, Regina?
Regina. Yes, indeed, I certainly wish to.
Mrs. Alving. Of course you shall do as you like, but--
Oswald (going up to REGINA). Leave now? This is your home.
Regina. Merci, Mr. Alving--oh, of course I may say Oswald now,
but that is not the way I thought it would become allowable.
Mrs. Alving. Regina, I have not been open with you--
Regina. No, I can't say you have! If I had known Oswald was ill--
And now that there can never be anything serious between us--.
No, I really can't stay here in the country and wear myself out
looking after invalids.
Oswald. Not even for the sake of one who has so near a claim on
Regina. No, indeed I can't. A poor girl must make some use of her
youth, otherwise she may easily land herself out in the cold
before she knows where she is. And I have got the joy of life in
me too, Mrs. Alving!
Mrs. Alving. Yes, unfortunately; but don't throw yourself away,
Regina. Oh, what's going to happen will happen. If Oswald takes
after his father, it is just as likely I take after my mother, I
expect.--May I ask, Mrs. Alving, whether Mr. Manders knows this
Mrs. Alving. Mr. Manders knows everything.
Regina (putting on her shawl). Oh, well then, the best thing I
can do is to get away by the boat as soon as I can. Mr. Manders
is such a nice gentleman to deal with; and it certainly seems to
me that I have just as much right to some of that money as he--as
that horrid carpenter.
Mrs. Alving. You are quite welcome to it, Regina.
Regina (looking at her fixedly). You might as well have brought
me up like a gentleman's daughter; it would have been more
suitable. (Tosses her head.) Oh, well--never mind! (With a bitter
glance at the unopened bottle.) I daresay someday I shall be
drinking champagne with gentlefolk, after all.
Mrs. Alving. If ever you need a home, Regina, come to me.
Regina. No, thank you, Mrs. Alving. Mr. Manders takes an interest
in me, I know. And if things should go very badly with me, I know
one house at any rate where I shall feel at home.
Mrs. Alving. Where is that?
Regina. In the "Alving Home."
Mrs. Alving. Regina--I can see quite well--you are going to your
(She bows to them and goes out through the hall.)
Oswald (standing by the window and looking out). Has she gone?
Mrs. Alving. Yes.
Oswald (muttering to himself). I think it's all wrong.
Mrs. Alving (going up to him from behind and putting her hands
on his shoulders). Oswald, my dear boy--has it been a great shock
Oswald (turning his face towards her). All this about father, do
Mrs. Alving. Yes, about your unhappy father. I am so afraid it
may have been too much for you.
Oswald. What makes you think that? Naturally it has taken me
entirely by surprise; but, after all, I don't know that it
matters much to me.
Mrs. Alving (drawing back her hands). Doesn't matter!--that your
father's life was such a terrible failure!
Oswald. Of course I can feel sympathy for him, just as I would
for anyone else, but--
Mrs. Alving. No more than that! For your own father!
Oswald (impatiently). Father--father! I never knew anything of my
father. I don't remember anything else about him except that he
once made me sick.
Mrs. Alving. It is dreadful to think of!--But surely a child
should feel some affection for his father, whatever happens?
Oswald. When the child has nothing to thank his father for? When
he has never known him? Do you really cling to that antiquated
superstition--you, who are so broad-minded in other things?
Mrs. Alving. You call it nothing but a superstition!
Oswald. Yes, and you can see that for yourself quite well,
mother. It is one of those beliefs that are put into circulation
in the world, and--
Mrs. Alving. Ghosts of beliefs!
Oswald (walking across the room). Yes, you might call them
Mrs. Alving (with an outburst of feeling). Oswald! then you don't
love me either!
Oswald. You I know, at any rate--
Mrs. Alving. You know me, yes; but is that all?
Oswald. And I know how fond you are of me, and I ought to be
grateful to you for that. Besides, you can be so tremendously
useful to me, now that I am ill.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, can't I, Oswald! I could almost bless your
illness, as it has driven you home to me. For I see quite well
that you are not my very own yet; you must be won.
Oswald (impatiently). Yes, yes, yes; all that is just a way of
talking. You must remember I am a sick man, mother. I can't
concern myself much with anyone else; I have enough to do,
thinking about myself.
Mrs. Alving (gently). I will be very good and patient.
Oswald. And cheerful too, mother!
Mrs. Alving. Yes, my dear boy, you are quite right. (Goes up to
him.) Now have I taken away all your remorse and self-reproach?
Oswald. Yes, you have done that. But who will take away the fear?
Mrs. Alving. The fear?
Oswald (crossing the room). Regina would have done it for one
Mrs. Alving. I don't understand you. What fear do you mean--and
what has Regina to do with it?
Oswald. Is it very late, mother?
Mrs. Alving. It is early morning. (Looks out through the
conservatory windows.) The dawn is breaking already on the
heights. And the sky is clear, Oswald. In a little while you will
see the sun.
Oswald. I am glad of that. After all, there may be many things
yet for me to be glad of and to live for--
Mrs. Alving. I should hope so!
Oswald. Even if I am not able to work--
Mrs. Alving. You will soon find you are able to work again now,
my dear boy. You have no longer all those painful depressing
thoughts to brood over.
Oswald. No, it is a good thing that you have been able to rid me
of those fancies; if only, now, I could overcome this one thing--
(Sits down on the couch.) Let us have a little chat, mother.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, let us. (Pushes an armchair near to the couch
and sits down beside him.)
Oswald. The sun is rising--and you know all about it; so I don't
feel the fear any longer.
Mrs. Alving. I know all about what?
Oswald (without listening to her). Mother, isn't it the case that
you said this evening there was nothing in the world you would
not do for me if I asked you?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, certainly I said so.
Oswald. And will you be as good as your word, mother?
Mrs. Alving. You may rely upon that, my own dear boy. I have
nothing else to live for, but you.
Oswald. Yes, yes; well, listen to me, mother, You are very
strong-minded, I know. I want you to sit quite quiet when you
hear what I am going to tell you,
Mrs. Alving. But what is this dreadful thing--?
Oswald. You mustn't scream. Do you hear? Will you promise me
that? We are going to sit and talk it over quite quietly. Will
you promise me that, mother?
Mrs. Alving. Yes, yes, I promise--only tell me what it is.
Oswald. Well, then, you must know that this fatigue of mine--and
my mot being able to think about my work--all that is not really
the illness itself--
Mrs. Alving. What is the illness itself?
Oswald. What I am suffering from is hereditary; it--(touches his
forehead, and speaks very quietly)--it lies here.
Mrs. Alving (almost speechless). Oswald! No--no!
Oswald. Don't scream; I can't stand it. Yes, I tell you, it lies
here, waiting. And any time, any moment, it may break out.
Mrs. Alving. How horrible--!
Oswald. Do keep quiet. That is the state I am in--
Mrs. Alving (springing up). It isn't true, Oswald! It is
impossible! It can't be that!
Oswald. I had one attack while I was abroad. It passed off
quickly. But when I learned the condition I had been in, then this
dreadful haunting fear took possession of me.
Mrs. Alving. That was the fear, then--
Oswald. Yes, it is so indescribably horrible, you know If only it
had been an ordinary mortal disease--. I am not so much afraid of
dying; though, of course, I should like to live as long as I can.
Mrs. Alving. Yes, yes, Oswald, you must!
Oswald. But this is so appallingly horrible. To become like a
helpless child again--to have to be fed, to have to be--. Oh,
Mrs. Alving. My child has his mother to tend him.
Oswald (jumping up). No, never; that is just what I won't endure!
I dare not think what it would mean to linger on like that for
years--to get old and grey like that. And you might die before I
did. (Sits down in MRS. ALVING'S chair.) Because it doesn't
necessarily have a fatal end quickly, the doctor said; he called
it a kind of softening of the brain--or something of that sort.
(Smiles mournfully.) I think that expression sounds so nice. It
always makes me think of cherry-coloured velvet curtains--
something that is soft to stroke.
Mrs. Alving (with a scream). Oswald!
Oswald (jumps up and walks about the room). And now you have
taken Regina from me! If I had only had her, she would have given
me a helping hand, I know.
Mrs. Alving (going up to him). What do you mean, my darling boy?
Is there any help in the world I would not be willing to give
Oswald. When I had recovered from the attack I had abroad, the
doctor told me that when it recurred--and it will recur--there
would be no more hope.
Mrs. Alving. And he was heartless enough to--
Oswald. I insisted on knowing. I told him I had arrangements to
make--. (Smiles cunningly.) And so I had. (Takes a small box from
his inner breast-pocket.) Mother, do you see this?
Mrs. Alving. What is it?
Oswald. Morphia powders.
Mrs. Alving (looking at him in terror). Oswald--my boy!
Oswald. I have twelve of them saved up--
Mrs. Alving (snatching at it). Give me the box, Oswald!
Oswald. Not yet, mother. (Puts it lack in his pocket.)
Mrs. Alving. I shall never get over this!
Oswald, You must. If I had had Regina here now, I would have told
her quietly how things stand with me--and asked her to give me
this last helping hand. She would have helped me, I am certain.
Mrs. Alving. Never!
Oswald. If this horrible thing had come upon me and she had seen
me lying helpless, like a baby, past help, past saving, past
hope--with no chance of recovering--
Mrs. Alving. Never in the world would Regina have done it.
Oswald. Regina would have done it. Regina was so splendidly
light-hearted. And she would very soon have tired of looking
after an invalid like me.
Mrs. Alving. Then thank heaven Regina is not here!
Oswald. Well, now you have got to give me that helping hand,
Mrs. Alving (with a loud scream). I!
Oswald. Who has a better right than you?
Mrs. Alving. I! Your mother!
Oswald. Just for that reason.
Mrs. Alving. I, who gave you your life!
Oswald, I never asked you for life. And what kind of a life was
it that you gave me? I don't want it! You shall take it back!
Mrs. Alving. Help! Help! (Runs into the hall.)
Oswald (following her). Don't leave me! Where are you going?
Mrs. Alving (in the hall). To fetch the doctor to you, Oswald!
Let me out!
Oswald (going into the hall). You shan't go out. And no one shall
come in. (Turns the key in the lock.)
Mrs. Alving (coming in again). Oswald! Oswald!--my child!
Oswald (following her). Have you a mother's heart--and can bear
to see me suffering this unspeakable terror?
Mrs. Alving (controlling herself, after a moment's silence).
There is my hand on it.
Oswald. Will you--?
Mrs. Alving. If it becomes necessary. But it shan't become
necessary: No, no--it is impossible it should!
Oswald. Let us hope so. And let us live together as long as we
can. Thank you, mother.
(He sits down in the armchair, which MRS. ALVING had moved beside
the couch. Day is breaking; the lamp is still burning on the
Mrs. Alving (coming cautiously nearer). Do you feel calmer now?
Mrs. Alving (bending over him). It has only been a dreadful fancy
of yours, Oswald. Nothing but fancy. All this upset has been bad for
you. But now you will get some rest, at home with your own mother, my
darling boy. You shall have everything you want, just as you did
when you were a little child.--There, now. The attack is over.
You see how easily it passed off! I knew it would.--And look,
Oswald, what a lovely day we are going to have? Brilliant
sunshine. Now you will be able to see your home properly. (She
goes to the table and puts out the lamp. It is sunrise. The
glaciers and peaks in the distance are seen bathed in bright
Oswald (who has been sitting motionless in the armchair, with his
back to the scene outside, suddenly says:) Mother, give me the
Mrs. Alving (standing at the table, and looking at him in
amazement). What do you say?
Oswald (repeats in a dull, toneless voice). The sun--the sun.
Mrs. Alving (going up to him). Oswald, what is the matter with
you? (OSWALD seems to shrink up in the chair; all his muscles
relax; his face loses its expression, and his eyes stare
stupidly. MRS. ALVING is trembling with terror.) What is it!
(Screams.) Oswald! What is the matter with you! (Throws herself
on her knees beside him and shakes him.) Oswald! Oswald! Look at
me! Don't you know me!
Oswald (in an expressionless voice, as before). The sun--the sun.
Mrs. Alving (jumps up despairingly, beats her head with her
hands, and screams). I can't bear it! (Whispers as though
paralysed with fear.) I can't bear it... I Never! (Suddenly.) Where
has he got it? (Passes her hand quickly over his coat.) Here!
(Draws back a little spay and cries :) No, no, no!--Yes!--no, no!
(She stands a few steps from him, her hands thrust into her hair,
and stares at him in speechless terror.)
Oswald (sitting motionless, as before). The sun--the sun.