Read & Download Et dukkehjem. English by Henrik Ibsen pdf, Epub, kindle

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Title: A Doll’s House

Author: Henrik Ibsen

Posting Date: December 13, 2008 [EBook #2542]
Release Date: March, 2001

Language: English

Produced by Martin Adamson

Source : Abebooks

A DOLL’S HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Torvald Helmer.
Nora, his wife.
Doctor Rank.
Mrs. Linde.
Nils Krogstad.
Helmer’s three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
A Housemaid.
A Porter.
(The action takes place in Helmer’s house.)

A DOLL’S HOUSE

ACT I

(SCENE.–A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer’s study. Between the
doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and
beyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, arm-chairs and
a small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther end, another door;
and on the same side, nearer the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs
and a rocking-chair; between the stove and the door, a small table.
Engravings on the walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects;
a small book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter.

A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to open.
Enter NORA, humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in outdoor dress
and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to the
right. She leaves the outer door open after her, and through it is seen
a PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket, which he gives
to the MAID who has opened the door.)

Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children
do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER,
taking out her purse.) How much?

Porter. Sixpence.

Nora. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her,
and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she
takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her
pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband’s door
and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on
the right.)

Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out
there?

Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

Nora. Yes!

Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?

Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her
mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

Helmer. Don’t disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks
into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has
my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go
a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to
economise.

Helmer. Still, you know, we can’t spend money recklessly. Nora. Yes,
Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn’t we? Just a tiny
wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of
money.

Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarter
before the salary is due.

Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.

Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.) The
same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty pounds
today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on New
Year’s Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and–Nora (putting her
hands over his mouth). Oh! don’t say such horrid things.

Helmer. Still, suppose that happened,–what then?

Nora. If that were to happen, I don’t suppose I should care whether I
owed money or not.

Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?

Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they
were.

Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I think
about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beauty
about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have kept
bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way for
the short time longer that there need be any struggle.

Nora (moving towards the stove). As you please, Torvald.

Helmer (following her). Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her
wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (Taking out
his purse.) Nora, what do you think I have got here?

Nora (turning round quickly). Money!

Helmer. There you are. (Gives her some money.) Do you think I don’t know
what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-time?

Nora (counting). Ten shillings–a pound–two pounds! Thank you, thank
you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.

Helmer. Indeed it must.

Nora. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I have
bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, and
a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and dolly’s
bedstead for Emmy,–they are very plain, but anyway she will soon break
them in pieces. And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for the
maids; old Anne ought really to have something better.

Helmer. And what is in this parcel?

Nora (crying out). No, no! you mustn’t see that until this evening.

Helmer. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little person, what
would you like for yourself?

Nora. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don’t want anything.

Helmer. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you would
particularly like to have.

Nora. No, I really can’t think of anything–unless, Torvald–

Helmer. Well?

Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes to
his). If you really want to give me something, you might–you might–

Helmer. Well, out with it!

Nora (speaking quickly). You might give me money, Torvald. Only just as
much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will buy something
with it.

Helmer. But, Nora–

Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up in
beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn’t that be
fun?

Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting money?

Nora. Spendthrifts–I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald, and then
I shall have time to think what I am most in want of. That is a very
sensible plan, isn’t it?

Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is–that is to say, if you were really to
save out of the money I give you, and then really buy something for
yourself. But if you spend it all on the housekeeping and any number of
unnecessary things, then I merely have to pay up again.

Nora. Oh but, Torvald–

Helmer. You can’t deny it, my dear little Nora. (Puts his arm round
her waist.) It’s a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of
money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!

Nora. It’s a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.

Helmer (laughing). That’s very true,–all you can. But you can’t save
anything!

Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven’t any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.

Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You always
find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as soon as you
have got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You never know where it
has gone. Still, one must take you as you are. It is in the blood; for
indeed it is true that you can inherit these things, Nora.

Nora. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa’s qualities.

Helmer. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you are,
my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me that you are
looking rather–what shall I say–rather uneasy today?

Nora. Do I?

Helmer. You do, really. Look straight at me.

Nora (looks at him). Well?

Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn’t Miss Sweet Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?

Nora. No; what makes you think that?

Helmer. Hasn’t she paid a visit to the confectioner’s?

Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald–

Helmer. Not been nibbling sweets?

Nora. No, certainly not.

Helmer. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?

Nora. No, Torvald, I assure you really–

Helmer. There, there, of course I was only joking.

Nora (going to the table on the right). I should not think of going
against your wishes.

Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word– (Going
up to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, my darling.
They will all be revealed tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, no
doubt.

Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?

Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will come to
dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in this morning.
I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can’t think how I am looking
forward to this evening.

Nora. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!

Helmer. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It’s delightful to think of, isn’t
it?

Nora. It’s wonderful!

Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until long after midnight,
making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the other fine things
that were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever
spent!

Nora. I didn’t find it dull.

Helmer (smiling). But there was precious little result, Nora.

Nora. Oh, you shouldn’t tease me about that again. How could I help the
cat’s going in and tearing everything to pieces?

Helmer. Of course you couldn’t, poor little girl. You had the best of
intentions to please us all, and that’s the main thing. But it is a good
thing that our hard times are over.

Nora. Yes, it is really wonderful.

Helmer. This time I needn’t sit here and be dull all alone, and you
needn’t ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands–

Nora (clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn’t any longer, need I!
It’s wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (Taking his arm.) Now I will
tell you how I have been thinking we ought to arrange things, Torvald.
As soon as Christmas is over–(A bell rings in the hall.) There’s the
bell. (She tidies the room a little.) There’s some one at the door. What
a nuisance!

Helmer. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.

Maid (in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma’am,–a stranger.

Nora. Ask her to come in.

Maid (to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.

Helmer. Did he go straight into my room?

Maid. Yes, sir.

(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in Mrs. LINDE, who is in
travelling dress, and shuts the door.) Mrs. Linde (in a dejected and
timid voice). How do you do, Nora?

Nora (doubtfully). How do you do–Mrs. Linde. You don’t recognise me, I
suppose.

Nora. No, I don’t know–yes, to be sure, I seem to–(Suddenly.) Yes!
Christine! Is it really you?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, it is I.

Nora. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how could
I–(In a gentle voice.) How you have altered, Christine!

Mrs. Linde. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years–

Nora. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight years
have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have come
into the town, and have taken this long journey in winter–that was
plucky of you.

Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.

Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful! We
will have such fun together! But take off your things. You are not cold,
I hope. (Helps her.) Now we will sit down by the stove, and be cosy.
No, take this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes
her hands.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only the first
moment–You are a little paler, Christine, and perhaps a little thinner.

Mrs. Linde. And much, much older, Nora.

Nora. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not much.
(Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a thoughtless creature I am,
chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.

Mrs. Linde. What do you mean, Nora?

Nora (gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.

Mrs. Linde. Yes; it is three years ago now.

Nora. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you, Christine, I
meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it off
and something always prevented me.

Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.

Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must have
suffered. And he left you nothing?

Mrs. Linde. No.

Nora. And no children?

Mrs. Linde. No.

Nora. Nothing at all, then.

Mrs. Linde. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.

Nora (looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that possible?

Mrs. Linde (smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes happens,
Nora.

Nora. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I have
three lovely children. You can’t see them just now, for they are out
with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.

Mrs. Linde. No, no; I want to hear about you.

Nora. No, you must begin. I mustn’t be selfish today; today I must only
think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do you
know we have just had a great piece of good luck?

Mrs. Linde. No, what is it?

Nora. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!

Mrs. Linde. Your husband? What good luck!

Nora. Yes, tremendous! A barrister’s profession is such an uncertain
thing, especially if he won’t undertake unsavoury cases; and naturally
Torvald has never been willing to do that, and I quite agree with him.
You may imagine how pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the
Bank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots of
commissions. For the future we can live quite differently–we can do
just as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be
splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won’t
it?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what one
needs.

Nora. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.

Mrs. Linde (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven’t you learned sense yet? In our
schooldays you were a great spendthrift.

Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags her finger at
her.) But “Nora, Nora” is not so silly as you think. We have not been in
a position for me to waste money. We have both had to work.

Mrs. Linde. You too?

Nora. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crotchet-work, embroidery, and
that kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.) And other things as well. You
know Torvald left his office when we were married? There was no prospect
of promotion there, and he had to try and earn more than before. But
during the first year he over-worked himself dreadfully. You see, he had
to make money every way he could, and he worked early and late; but he
couldn’t stand it, and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it was
necessary for him to go south.

Mrs. Linde. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn’t you?

Nora. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It
was just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald’s life. But it cost
a tremendous lot of money, Christine.

Mrs. Linde. So I should think.

Nora. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That’s a lot, isn’t
it?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have the
money.

Nora. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.

Mrs. Linde. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he died, wasn’t
it?

Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn’t go and nurse him. I was
expecting little Ivar’s birth every day and I had my poor sick Torvald
to look after. My dear, kind father–I never saw him again, Christine.
That was the saddest time I have known since our marriage.

Mrs. Linde. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went off to
Italy?

Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on our
going, so we started a month later.

Mrs. Linde. And your husband came back quite well?

Nora. As sound as a bell!

Mrs. Linde. But–the doctor?

Nora. What doctor?

Mrs. Linde. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived here just
as I did, was the doctor?

Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn’t come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least once
every day. No, Torvald has not had an hour’s illness since then, and our
children are strong and healthy and so am I. (Jumps up and claps her
hands.) Christine! Christine! it’s good to be alive and happy!–But how
horrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own affairs. (Sits on a
stool near her, and rests her arms on her knees.) You mustn’t be angry
with me. Tell me, is it really true that you did not love your husband?
Why did you marry him?

Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless,
and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I did not think I
was justified in refusing his offer.

Nora. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time, then?

Mrs. Linde. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was a
precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and there was
nothing left.

Nora. And then?–

Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could find–first
a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last three years have
seemed like one long working-day, with no rest. Now it is at an end,
Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for she is gone; and the boys
do not need me either; they have got situations and can shift for
themselves.

Nora. What a relief you must feel if–

Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one to
live for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.) That was why I could not stand
the life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be easier here
to find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts. If only I
could have the good luck to get some regular work–office work of some
kind–

Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look tired
out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.

Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to give me money
for a journey, Nora.

Nora (rising). Oh, don’t be angry with me!

Mrs. Linde (going up to her). It is you that must not be angry with me,
dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so bitter.
No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always on the lookout for
chances. One must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me of
the happy turn your fortunes have taken–you will hardly believe it–I
was delighted not so much on your account as on my own.

Nora. How do you mean?–Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps Torvald
could get you something to do.

Mrs. Linde. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.

Nora. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the subject
very cleverly–I will think of something that will please him very much.
It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.

Mrs. Linde. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me! It is
doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens and troubles
of life.

Nora. I–? I know so little of them?

Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and that sort of
thing!–You are a child, Nora.

Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought not to be so
superior.

Mrs. Linde. No?

Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am incapable
of anything really serious–

Mrs. Linde. Come, come–

Nora.–that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.

Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your troubles.

Nora. Pooh!–those were trifles. (Lowering her voice.) I have not told
you the important thing.

Mrs. Linde. The important thing? What do you mean?

Nora. You look down upon me altogether, Christine–but you ought not to.
You are proud, aren’t you, of having worked so hard and so long for your
mother?

Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don’t look down on anyone. But it is true that I
am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to make the end of
my mother’s life almost free from care.

Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your
brothers?

Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.

Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have something to
be proud and glad of.

Mrs. Linde. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?

Nora. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn’t on any
account–no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.

Mrs. Linde. But what is it?

Nora. Come here. (Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.) Now I will
show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who
saved Torvald’s life.

Mrs. Linde. “Saved”? How?

Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never have
recovered if he had not gone there–

Mrs. Linde. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.

Nora (smiling). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others think,
but–

Mrs. Linde. But–

Nora. Papa didn’t give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.

Mrs. Linde. You? All that large sum?

Nora. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?

Mrs. Linde. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win a prize
in the Lottery?

Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have been no credit
in that.

Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora (humming and
smiling with an air of mystery). Hm, hm! Aha!

Mrs. Linde. Because you couldn’t have borrowed it.

Nora. Couldn’t I? Why not?

Mrs. Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband’s consent.

Nora (tossing her head). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business–a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever–

Mrs. Linde. I don’t understand it at all, Nora.

Nora. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed the
money. I may have got it some other way. (Lies back on the sofa.)
Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is as attractive
as I am–

Mrs. Linde. You are a mad creature.

Nora. Now, you know you’re full of curiosity, Christine.

Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven’t you been a little bit
imprudent?

Nora (sits up straight). Is it imprudent to save your husband’s life?

Mrs. Linde. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to–

Nora. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can’t you understand that? It was necessary he should have no
idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors
came and said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing to
save him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn’t try, first of
all, to get what I wanted as if it were for myself? I told him how much
I should love to travel abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and
entreaties with him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition
I was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even
hinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry,
Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my
husband not to indulge me in my whims and caprices–as I believe he
called them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved–and that was how I
came to devise a way out of the difficulty–

Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know from your father that
the money had not come from him?

Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let him
into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so ill
then–alas, there never was any need to tell him.

Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to your
husband?

Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has such
strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful and
humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to
know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations
altogether; our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is now.

Mrs. Linde. Do you mean never to tell him about it?

Nora (meditatively, and with a half smile). Yes–someday, perhaps, after
many years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as I am now. Don’t laugh
at me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is no longer as devoted to me as
he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled on
him; then it may be a good thing to have something in reserve–(Breaking
off.) What nonsense! That time will never come. Now, what do you think
of my great secret, Christine? Do you still think I am of no use? I can
tell you, too, that this affair has caused me a lot of worry. It has
been by no means easy for me to meet my engagements punctually. I may
tell you that there is something that is called, in business, quarterly
interest, and another thing called payment in installments, and it is
always so dreadfully difficult to manage them. I have had to save a
little here and there, where I could, you understand. I have not been
able to put aside much from my housekeeping money, for Torvald must have
a good table. I couldn’t let my children be shabbily dressed; I have
felt obliged to use up all he gave me for them, the sweet little
darlings!

Mrs. Linde. So it has all had to come out of your own necessaries of
life, poor Nora?

Nora. Of course. Besides, I was the one responsible for it. Whenever
Torvald has given me money for new dresses and such things, I have
never spent more than half of it; I have always bought the simplest
and cheapest things. Thank Heaven, any clothes look well on me, and
so Torvald has never noticed it. But it was often very hard on me,
Christine–because it is delightful to be really well dressed, isn’t it?

Mrs. Linde. Quite so.

Nora. Well, then I have found other ways of earning money. Last winter
I was lucky enough to get a lot of copying to do; so I locked myself up
and sat writing every evening until quite late at night. Many a time I
was desperately tired; but all the same it was a tremendous pleasure to
sit there working and earning money. It was like being a man.

Mrs. Linde. How much have you been able to pay off in that way?

Nora. I can’t tell you exactly. You see, it is very difficult to keep an
account of a business matter of that kind. I only know that I have paid
every penny that I could scrape together. Many a time I was at my wits’
end. (Smiles.) Then I used to sit here and imagine that a rich old
gentleman had fallen in love with me–

Mrs. Linde. What! Who was it?

Nora. Be quiet!–that he had died; and that when his will was opened
it contained, written in big letters, the instruction: “The lovely Mrs.
Nora Helmer is to have all I possess paid over to her at once in cash.”

Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora–who could the man be?

Nora. Good gracious, can’t you understand? There was no old gentleman at
all; it was only something that I used to sit here and imagine, when I
couldn’t think of any way of procuring money. But it’s all the same now;
the tiresome old person can stay where he is, as far as I am concerned;
I don’t care about him or his will either, for I am free from care now.
(Jumps up.) My goodness, it’s delightful to think of, Christine! Free
from care! To be able to be free from care, quite free from care; to be
able to play and romp with the children; to be able to keep the house
beautifully and have everything just as Torvald likes it! And, think of
it, soon the spring will come and the big blue sky! Perhaps we shall be
able to take a little trip–perhaps I shall see the sea again! Oh, it’s
a wonderful thing to be alive and be happy. (A bell is heard in the
hall.)

Mrs. Linde (rising). There is the bell; perhaps I had better go.

Nora. No, don’t go; no one will come in here; it is sure to be for
Torvald.

Servant (at the hall door). Excuse me, ma’am–there is a gentleman to
see the master, and as the doctor is with him–

Nora. Who is it?

Krogstad (at the door). It is I, Mrs. Helmer. (Mrs. LINDE starts,
trembles, and turns to the window.)

Nora (takes a step towards him, and speaks in a strained, low voice).
You? What is it? What do you want to see my husband about?

Krogstad. Bank business–in a way. I have a small post in the Bank, and
I hear your husband is to be our chief now–

Nora. Then it is–

Krogstad. Nothing but dry business matters, Mrs. Helmer; absolutely
nothing else.

Nora. Be so good as to go into the study, then. (She bows indifferently
to him and shuts the door into the hall; then comes back and makes up
the fire in the stove.)

Mrs. Linde. Nora–who was that man?

Nora. A lawyer, of the name of Krogstad.

Mrs. Linde. Then it really was he.

Nora. Do you know the man?

Mrs. Linde. I used to–many years ago. At one time he was a solicitor’s
clerk in our town.

Nora. Yes, he was.

Mrs. Linde. He is greatly altered.

Nora. He made a very unhappy marriage.

Mrs. Linde. He is a widower now, isn’t he?

Nora. With several children. There now, it is burning up. (Shuts the
door of the stove and moves the rocking-chair aside.)

Mrs. Linde. They say he carries on various kinds of business.

Nora. Really! Perhaps he does; I don’t know anything about it. But don’t
let us think of business; it is so tiresome.

Doctor Rank (comes out of HELMER’S study. Before he shuts the door he
calls to him). No, my dear fellow, I won’t disturb you; I would rather
go in to your wife for a little while. (Shuts the door and sees Mrs.
LINDE.) I beg your pardon; I am afraid I am disturbing you too.

Nora. No, not at all. (Introducing him). Doctor Rank, Mrs. Linde.

Rank. I have often heard Mrs. Linde’s name mentioned here. I think I
passed you on the stairs when I arrived, Mrs. Linde?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, I go up very slowly; I can’t manage stairs well.

Rank. Ah! some slight internal weakness?

Mrs. Linde. No, the fact is I have been overworking myself.

Rank. Nothing more than that? Then I suppose you have come to town to
amuse yourself with our entertainments?

Mrs. Linde. I have come to look for work.

Rank. Is that a good cure for overwork?

Mrs. Linde. One must live, Doctor Rank.

Rank. Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.

Nora. Look here, Doctor Rank–you know you want to live.

Rank. Certainly. However wretched I may feel, I want to prolong the
agony as long as possible. All my patients are like that. And so are
those who are morally diseased; one of them, and a bad case too, is at
this very moment with Helmer–

Mrs. Linde (sadly). Ah!

Nora. Whom do you mean?

Rank. A lawyer of the name of Krogstad, a fellow you don’t know at all.
He suffers from a diseased moral character, Mrs. Helmer; but even he
began talking of its being highly important that he should live.

Nora. Did he? What did he want to speak to Torvald about?

Rank. I have no idea; I only heard that it was something about the Bank.

Nora. I didn’t know this–what’s his name–Krogstad had anything to do
with the Bank.

Rank. Yes, he has some sort of appointment there. (To Mrs. LINDE.) I
don’t know whether you find also in your part of the world that there
are certain people who go zealously snuffing about to smell out moral
corruption, and, as soon as they have found some, put the person
concerned into some lucrative position where they can keep their eye on
him. Healthy natures are left out in the cold.

Mrs. Linde. Still I think the sick are those who most need taking care
of.

Rank (shrugging his shoulders). Yes, there you are. That is the
sentiment that is turning Society into a sick-house.

(NORA, who has been absorbed in her thoughts, breaks out into smothered
laughter and claps her hands.)

Rank. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any notion what Society really
is?

Nora. What do I care about tiresome Society? I am laughing at something
quite different, something extremely amusing. Tell me, Doctor Rank, are
all the people who are employed in the Bank dependent on Torvald now?

Rank. Is that what you find so extremely amusing?

Nora (smiling and humming). That’s my affair! (Walking about the room.)
It’s perfectly glorious to think that we have–that Torvald has so much
power over so many people. (Takes the packet from her pocket.) Doctor
Rank, what do you say to a macaroon?

Rank. What, macaroons? I thought they were forbidden here.

Nora. Yes, but these are some Christine gave me.

Mrs. Linde. What! I?–

Nora. Oh, well, don’t be alarmed! You couldn’t know that Torvald had
forbidden them. I must tell you that he is afraid they will spoil my
teeth. But, bah!–once in a way–That’s so, isn’t it, Doctor Rank? By
your leave! (Puts a macaroon into his mouth.) You must have one too,
Christine. And I shall have one, just a little one–or at most two.
(Walking about.) I am tremendously happy. There is just one thing in the
world now that I should dearly love to do.

Rank. Well, what is that?

Nora. It’s something I should dearly love to say, if Torvald could hear
me.

Rank. Well, why can’t you say it?

Nora. No, I daren’t; it’s so shocking.

Mrs. Linde. Shocking?

Rank. Well, I should not advise you to say it. Still, with us you might.
What is it you would so much like to say if Torvald could hear you?

Nora. I should just love to say–Well, I’m damned!

Rank. Are you mad?

Mrs. Linde. Nora, dear–!

Rank. Say it, here he is!

Nora (hiding the packet). Hush! Hush! Hush! (HELMER comes out of his
room, with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.)

Nora. Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?

Helmer. Yes, he has just gone.

Nora. Let me introduce you–this is Christine, who has come to town.

Helmer. Christine–? Excuse me, but I don’t know–

Nora. Mrs. Linde, dear; Christine Linde.

Helmer. Of course. A school friend of my wife’s, I presume?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, we have known each other since then.

Nora. And just think, she has taken a long journey in order to see you.

Helmer. What do you mean? Mrs. Linde. No, really, I–

Nora. Christine is tremendously clever at book-keeping, and she is
frightfully anxious to work under some clever man, so as to perfect
herself–

Helmer. Very sensible, Mrs. Linde.

Nora. And when she heard you had been appointed manager of the Bank–the
news was telegraphed, you know–she travelled here as quick as
she could. Torvald, I am sure you will be able to do something for
Christine, for my sake, won’t you?

Helmer. Well, it is not altogether impossible. I presume you are a
widow, Mrs. Linde?

Mrs. Linde. Yes.

Helmer. And have had some experience of book-keeping?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, a fair amount.

Helmer. Ah! well, it’s very likely I may be able to find something for
you–

Nora (clapping her hands). What did I tell you? What did I tell you?

Helmer. You have just come at a fortunate moment, Mrs. Linde.

Mrs. Linde. How am I to thank you?

Helmer. There is no need. (Puts on his coat.) But today you must excuse
me–

Rank. Wait a minute; I will come with you. (Brings his fur coat from the
hall and warms it at the fire.)

Nora. Don’t be long away, Torvald dear.

Helmer. About an hour, not more.

Nora. Are you going too, Christine?

Mrs. Linde (putting on her cloak). Yes, I must go and look for a room.

Helmer. Oh, well then, we can walk down the street together.

Nora (helping her). What a pity it is we are so short of space here; I
am afraid it is impossible for us–

Mrs. Linde. Please don’t think of it! Goodbye, Nora dear, and many
thanks.

Nora. Goodbye for the present. Of course you will come back this
evening. And you too, Dr. Rank. What do you say? If you are well enough?
Oh, you must be! Wrap yourself up well. (They go to the door all talking
together. Children’s voices are heard on the staircase.)

Nora. There they are! There they are! (She runs to open the door. The
NURSE comes in with the children.) Come in! Come in! (Stoops and kisses
them.) Oh, you sweet blessings! Look at them, Christine! Aren’t they
darlings?

Rank. Don’t let us stand here in the draught.

Helmer. Come along, Mrs. Linde; the place will only be bearable for a
mother now!

(RANK, HELMER, and Mrs. LINDE go downstairs. The NURSE comes forward
with the children; NORA shuts the hall door.)

Nora. How fresh and well you look! Such red cheeks like apples and
roses. (The children all talk at once while she speaks to them.) Have
you had great fun? That’s splendid! What, you pulled both Emmy and Bob
along on the sledge?–both at once?–that was good. You are a clever
boy, Ivar. Let me take her for a little, Anne. My sweet little baby
doll! (Takes the baby from the MAID and dances it up and down.) Yes,
yes, mother will dance with Bob too. What! Have you been snowballing? I
wish I had been there too! No, no, I will take their things off, Anne;
please let me do it, it is such fun. Go in now, you look half frozen.
There is some hot coffee for you on the stove.

(The NURSE goes into the room on the left. NORA takes off the children’s
things and throws them about, while they all talk to her at once.)

Nora. Really! Did a big dog run after you? But it didn’t bite you? No,
dogs don’t bite nice little dolly children. You mustn’t look at the
parcels, Ivar. What are they? Ah, I daresay you would like to know. No,
no–it’s something nasty! Come, let us have a game! What shall we play
at? Hide and Seek? Yes, we’ll play Hide and Seek. Bob shall hide first.
Must I hide? Very well, I’ll hide first. (She and the children laugh
and shout, and romp in and out of the room; at last NORA hides under the
table, the children rush in and out for her, but do not see her; they
hear her smothered laughter, run to the table, lift up the cloth
and find her. Shouts of laughter. She crawls forward and pretends to
frighten them. Fresh laughter. Meanwhile there has been a knock at the
hall door, but none of them has noticed it. The door is half opened, and
KROGSTAD appears, he waits a little; the game goes on.)

Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs. Helmer.

Nora (with a stifled cry, turns round and gets up on to her knees). Ah!
what do you want?

Krogstad. Excuse me, the outer door was ajar; I suppose someone forgot
to shut it.

Nora (rising). My husband is out, Mr. Krogstad.

Krogstad. I know that.

Nora. What do you want here, then?

Krogstad. A word with you.

Nora. With me?–(To the children, gently.) Go in to nurse. What? No,
the strange man won’t do mother any harm. When he has gone we will have
another game. (She takes the children into the room on the left, and
shuts the door after them.) You want to speak to me?

Krogstad. Yes, I do.

Nora. Today? It is not the first of the month yet.

Krogstad. No, it is Christmas Eve, and it will depend on yourself what
sort of a Christmas you will spend.

Nora. What do you mean? Today it is absolutely impossible for me–

Krogstad. We won’t talk about that until later on. This is something
different. I presume you can give me a moment?

Nora. Yes–yes, I can–although–

Krogstad. Good. I was in Olsen’s Restaurant and saw your husband going
down the street–

Nora. Yes?

Krogstad. With a lady.

Nora. What then?

Krogstad. May I make so bold as to ask if it was a Mrs. Linde?

Nora. It was.

Krogstad. Just arrived in town?

Nora. Yes, today.

Krogstad. She is a great friend of yours, isn’t she?

Nora. She is. But I don’t see–

Krogstad. I knew her too, once upon a time.

Nora. I am aware of that.

Krogstad. Are you? So you know all about it; I thought as much. Then I
can ask you, without beating about the bush–is Mrs. Linde to have an
appointment in the Bank?

Nora. What right have you to question me, Mr. Krogstad?–You, one of
my husband’s subordinates! But since you ask, you shall know. Yes, Mrs.
Linde is to have an appointment. And it was I who pleaded her cause, Mr.
Krogstad, let me tell you that.

Krogstad. I was right in what I thought, then.

Nora (walking up and down the stage). Sometimes one has a tiny little
bit of influence, I should hope. Because one is a woman, it does not
necessarily follow that–. When anyone is in a subordinate position,
Mr. Krogstad, they should really be careful to avoid offending anyone
who–who–

Krogstad. Who has influence?

Nora. Exactly.

Krogstad (changing his tone). Mrs. Helmer, you will be so good as to use
your influence on my behalf.

Nora. What? What do you mean?

Krogstad. You will be so kind as to see that I am allowed to keep my
subordinate position in the Bank.

Nora. What do you mean by that? Who proposes to take your post away from
you?

Krogstad. Oh, there is no necessity to keep up the pretence of
ignorance. I can quite understand that your friend is not very anxious
to expose herself to the chance of rubbing shoulders with me; and I
quite understand, too, whom I have to thank for being turned off.

Nora. But I assure you–

Krogstad. Very likely; but, to come to the point, the time has come when
I should advise you to use your influence to prevent that.

Nora. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence.

Krogstad. Haven’t you? I thought you said yourself just now–

Nora. Naturally I did not mean you to put that construction on it. I!
What should make you think I have any influence of that kind with my
husband?

Krogstad. Oh, I have known your husband from our student days. I don’t
suppose he is any more unassailable than other husbands.

Nora. If you speak slightingly of my husband, I shall turn you out of
the house.

Krogstad. You are bold, Mrs. Helmer.

Nora. I am not afraid of you any longer. As soon as the New Year comes,
I shall in a very short time be free of the whole thing.

Krogstad (controlling himself). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. If necessary,
I am prepared to fight for my small post in the Bank as if I were
fighting for my life.

Nora. So it seems.

Krogstad. It is not only for the sake of the money; indeed, that weighs
least with me in the matter. There is another reason–well, I may as
well tell you. My position is this. I daresay you know, like everybody
else, that once, many years ago, I was guilty of an indiscretion.

Nora. I think I have heard something of the kind.

Krogstad. The matter never came into court; but every way seemed to be
closed to me after that. So I took to the business that you know of. I
had to do something; and, honestly, I don’t think I’ve been one of the
worst. But now I must cut myself free from all that. My sons are growing
up; for their sake I must try and win back as much respect as I can in
the town. This post in the Bank was like the first step up for me–and
now your husband is going to kick me downstairs again into the mud.

Nora. But you must believe me, Mr. Krogstad; it is not in my power to
help you at all.

Krogstad. Then it is because you haven’t the will; but I have means to
compel you.

Nora. You don’t mean that you will tell my husband that I owe you money?

Krogstad. Hm!–suppose I were to tell him?

Nora. It would be perfectly infamous of you. (Sobbing.) To think of his
learning my secret, which has been my joy and pride, in such an ugly,
clumsy way–that he should learn it from you! And it would put me in a
horribly disagreeable position–

Krogstad. Only disagreeable?

Nora (impetuously). Well, do it, then!–and it will be the worse for
you. My husband will see for himself what a blackguard you are, and you
certainly won’t keep your post then.

Krogstad. I asked you if it was only a disagreeable scene at home that
you were afraid of?

Nora. If my husband does get to know of it, of course he will at once
pay you what is still owing, and we shall have nothing more to do with
you.

Krogstad (coming a step nearer). Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer. Either you
have a very bad memory or you know very little of business. I shall be
obliged to remind you of a few details.

Nora. What do you mean?

Krogstad. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow two
hundred and fifty pounds.

Nora. I didn’t know anyone else to go to.

Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount–

Nora. Yes, and you did so.

Krogstad. I promised to get you that amount, on certain conditions.
Your mind was so taken up with your husband’s illness, and you were so
anxious to get the money for your journey, that you seem to have paid
no attention to the conditions of our bargain. Therefore it will not be
amiss if I remind you of them. Now, I promised to get the money on the
security of a bond which I drew up.

Nora. Yes, and which I signed.

Krogstad. Good. But below your signature there were a few lines
constituting your father a surety for the money; those lines your father
should have signed.

Nora. Should? He did sign them.

Krogstad. I had left the date blank; that is to say, your father should
himself have inserted the date on which he signed the paper. Do you
remember that?

Nora. Yes, I think I remember–

Krogstad. Then I gave you the bond to send by post to your father. Is
that not so?

Nora. Yes.

Krogstad. And you naturally did so at once, because five or six days
afterwards you brought me the bond with your father’s signature. And
then I gave you the money.

Nora. Well, haven’t I been paying it off regularly?

Krogstad. Fairly so, yes. But–to come back to the matter in hand–that
must have been a very trying time for you, Mrs. Helmer?

Nora. It was, indeed.

Krogstad. Your father was very ill, wasn’t he?

Nora. He was very near his end.

Krogstad. And died soon afterwards?

Nora. Yes.

Krogstad. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer, can you by any chance remember what day
your father died?–on what day of the month, I mean.

Nora. Papa died on the 29th of September.

Krogstad. That is correct; I have ascertained it for myself. And, as
that is so, there is a discrepancy (taking a paper from his pocket)
which I cannot account for.

Nora. What discrepancy? I don’t know–

Krogstad. The discrepancy consists, Mrs. Helmer, in the fact that your
father signed this bond three days after his death.

Nora. What do you mean? I don’t understand–

Krogstad. Your father died on the 29th of September. But, look here;
your father has dated his signature the 2nd of October. It is a
discrepancy, isn’t it? (NORA is silent.) Can you explain it to me? (NORA
is still silent.) It is a remarkable thing, too, that the words “2nd
of October,” as well as the year, are not written in your father’s
handwriting but in one that I think I know. Well, of course it can be
explained; your father may have forgotten to date his signature, and
someone else may have dated it haphazard before they knew of his death.
There is no harm in that. It all depends on the signature of the name;
and that is genuine, I suppose, Mrs. Helmer? It was your father himself
who signed his name here?

Nora (after a short pause, throws her head up and looks defiantly at
him). No, it was not. It was I that wrote papa’s name.

Krogstad. Are you aware that is a dangerous confession?

Nora. In what way? You shall have your money soon.

Krogstad. Let me ask you a question; why did you not send the paper to
your father?

Nora. It was impossible; papa was so ill. If I had asked him for his
signature, I should have had to tell him what the money was to be
used for; and when he was so ill himself I couldn’t tell him that my
husband’s life was in danger–it was impossible.

Krogstad. It would have been better for you if you had given up your
trip abroad.

Nora. No, that was impossible. That trip was to save my husband’s life;
I couldn’t give that up.

Krogstad. But did it never occur to you that you were committing a fraud
on me?

Nora. I couldn’t take that into account; I didn’t trouble myself about
you at all. I couldn’t bear you, because you put so many heartless
difficulties in my way, although you knew what a dangerous condition my
husband was in.

Krogstad. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise clearly what it is
that you have been guilty of. But I can assure you that my one false
step, which lost me all my reputation, was nothing more or nothing worse
than what you have done.

Nora. You? Do you ask me to believe that you were brave enough to run a
risk to save your wife’s life?

Krogstad. The law cares nothing about motives.

Nora. Then it must be a very foolish law.

Krogstad. Foolish or not, it is the law by which you will be judged, if
I produce this paper in court.

Nora. I don’t believe it. Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare her
dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be allowed to save her
husband’s life? I don’t know much about law; but I am certain that there
must be laws permitting such things as that. Have you no knowledge of
such laws–you who are a lawyer? You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr.
Krogstad.

Krogstad. Maybe. But matters of business–such business as you and I
have had together–do you think I don’t understand that? Very well. Do
as you please. But let me tell you this–if I lose my position a second
time, you shall lose yours with me. (He bows, and goes out through the
hall.)

Nora (appears buried in thought for a short time, then tosses her head).
Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!–I am not so silly as he
thinks. (Begins to busy herself putting the children’s things in order.)
And yet–? No, it’s impossible! I did it for love’s sake.

The Children (in the doorway on the left). Mother, the stranger man has
gone out through the gate.

Nora. Yes, dears, I know. But, don’t tell anyone about the stranger man.
Do you hear? Not even papa.

Children. No, mother; but will you come and play again?

Nora. No, no,–not now.

Children. But, mother, you promised us.

Nora. Yes, but I can’t now. Run away in; I have such a lot to do. Run
away in, my sweet little darlings. (She gets them into the room by
degrees and shuts the door on them; then sits down on the sofa, takes
up a piece of needlework and sews a few stitches, but soon stops.) No!
(Throws down the work, gets up, goes to the hall door and calls out.)
Helen! bring the Tree in. (Goes to the table on the left, opens a
drawer, and stops again.) No, no! it is quite impossible!

Maid (coming in with the Tree). Where shall I put it, ma’am?

Nora. Here, in the middle of the floor.

Maid. Shall I get you anything else?

Nora. No, thank you. I have all I want. [Exit MAID.]

Nora (begins dressing the tree). A candle here-and flowers here–The
horrible man! It’s all nonsense–there’s nothing wrong. The tree
shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to please you,
Torvald!–I will sing for you, dance for you–(HELMER comes in with some
papers under his arm.) Oh! are you back already?

Helmer. Yes. Has anyone been here?

Nora. Here? No.

Helmer. That is strange. I saw Krogstad going out of the gate.

Nora. Did you? Oh yes, I forgot, Krogstad was here for a moment.

Helmer. Nora, I can see from your manner that he has been here begging
you to say a good word for him.

Nora. Yes.

Helmer. And you were to appear to do it of your own accord; you were to
conceal from me the fact of his having been here; didn’t he beg that of
you too?

Nora. Yes, Torvald, but–

Helmer. Nora, Nora, and you would be a party to that sort of thing? To
have any talk with a man like that, and give him any sort of promise?
And to tell me a lie into the bargain?

Nora. A lie–?

Helmer. Didn’t you tell me no one had been here? (Shakes his finger at
her.) My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird must have
a clean beak to chirp with–no false notes! (Puts his arm round her
waist.) That is so, isn’t it? Yes, I am sure it is. (Lets her go.) We
will say no more about it. (Sits down by the stove.) How warm and snug
it is here! (Turns over his papers.)

Nora (after a short pause, during which she busies herself with the
Christmas Tree.) Torvald!

Helmer. Yes.

Nora. I am looking forward tremendously to the fancy-dress ball at the
Stenborgs’ the day after tomorrow.

Helmer. And I am tremendously curious to see what you are going to
surprise me with.

Nora. It was very silly of me to want to do that.

Helmer. What do you mean?

Nora. I can’t hit upon anything that will do; everything I think of
seems so silly and insignificant.

Helmer. Does my little Nora acknowledge that at last?

Nora (standing behind his chair with her arms on the back of it). Are
you very busy, Torvald?

Helmer. Well–

Nora. What are all those papers?

Helmer. Bank business.

Nora. Already?

Helmer. I have got authority from the retiring manager to undertake the
necessary changes in the staff and in the rearrangement of the work; and
I must make use of the Christmas week for that, so as to have everything
in order for the new year.

Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad–

Helmer. Hm!

Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair). If you
hadn’t been so busy I should have asked you a tremendously big favour,
Torvald.

Helmer. What is that? Tell me.

Nora. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I do so want to
look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn’t you take me in hand
and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of a dress I shall wear?

Helmer. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get someone to
come to her rescue?

Nora. Yes, Torvald, I can’t get along a bit without your help.

Helmer. Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to hit upon
something.

Nora. That is nice of you. (Goes to the Christmas Tree. A short pause.)
How pretty the red flowers look–. But, tell me, was it really something
very bad that this Krogstad was guilty of?

Helmer. He forged someone’s name. Have you any idea what that means?

Nora. Isn’t it possible that he was driven to do it by necessity?

Helmer. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am not so
heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false step
of that kind.

Nora. No, you wouldn’t, would you, Torvald?

Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he has
openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.

Nora. Punishment–?

Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out of it
by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether.

Nora. But do you think it would–?

Helmer. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play the
hypocrite with every one, how he has to wear a mask in the presence of
those near and dear to him, even before his own wife and children. And
about the children–that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.

Nora. How?

Helmer. Because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole
life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is full of
the germs of evil.

Nora (coming nearer him). Are you sure of that?

Helmer. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as a
lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a
deceitful mother.

Nora. Why do you only say–mother?

Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother’s influence, though
naturally a bad father’s would have the same result. Every lawyer
is familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been persistently
poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I
say he has lost all moral character. (Holds out his hands to her.) That
is why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to plead his cause. Give
me your hand on it. Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand. There
now, that’s settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for me to
work with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the company
of such people.

Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of the
Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot to do.

Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes, and I must
try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must think about
your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have something ready
in gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his hand on her head.) My
precious little singing-bird! (He goes into his room and shuts the door
after him.)

Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no–it isn’t true. It’s impossible;
it must be impossible.

(The NURSE opens the door on the left.)

Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come in to
mamma.

Nora. No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay with them,
Anne.

Nurse. Very well, ma’am. (Shuts the door.)

Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison my home? (A
short pause. Then she tosses her head.) It’s not true. It can’t possibly
be true.
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