A Doll’s House exposes the masquerade people often go through in their marriages and reveals how we live with illusions especially with our most intimate family members. Write an essay focusing on Helmer’s marriage and its necessary dissolution.
Following is the play about which the above essay needs to be written it is also available in attachment.
A DOLL'S HOUSE
by Henrik Ibsen
translated by William Archer
NORA, his wife.
MRS. LINDEN. *
THE HELMERS' THREE CHILDREN.
ANNA, *(2) their nurse.
A MAID-SERVANT (ELLEN).
The action passes in Helmer's house (a flat) in Christiania.
* In the original "Fru Linde."
*(2) In the original "Anne-Marie."
A room, comfortably and tastefully, but not expensively, furnished.
In the back, on the right, a door leads to the hall; on the left another door leads to HELMER’s study. Between the two doors
a pianoforte. In the middle of the left wall a door, and nearer the front a window. Near the window a round table with armchairs and
a small sofa. In the right wall, somewhat to the back, a door, and against the same wall, further forward, a porcelain stove; in front
of it a couple of arm-chairs and a rocking-chair. Between the stove and the side-door a small table. Engravings on the walls. A what-
not with china and bric-a-brac. A small bookcase filled with handsomely bound books. Carpet. A fire in the stove. It is a winter day.
A bell rings in the hall outside. Presently the outer door of the flat is heard to open. Then NORA enters, humming gaily. She is
in outdoor dress, and carries several parcels, which she lays on the right-hand table. She leaves the door into the hall open, and a
PORTER is seen outside, carrying a Christmas-tree and a basket, which he gives to the MAID-SERVANT who has opened the door.
NORA. Hide the Christmas-tree carefully, Ellen; the children must
on no account see it before this evening, when it's lighted up.
[To the PORTER, taking out her purse.] How much?
PORTER. Fifty ore. *
* About sixpence. There are 100 ore in a krone or crown, which is
worth thirteenpence halfpenny.
NORA. There is a crown. No, keep the change.
[The PORTER thanks her and goes. NORA shuts the door. She
continues smiling in quiet glee as she takes off her
outdoor things. Taking from her pocket a bag of
macaroons, she eats one or two. Then she goes on tip-toe
to her husband's door and listens.
NORA. Yes; he is at home.
[She begins humming again, crossing to the table on the
HELMER. [In his room.] Is that my lark twittering there?
NORA. [Busy opening some of her parcels.] Yes, it is.
HELMER. Is it the squirrel frisking around?
HELMER When did the squirrel get home?
NORA. Just this minute. [Hides the bag of macaroons in her pocket
and wipes her mouth.] Come here, Torvald, and see what I've been
HELMER. Don't interrupt me. [A little later he opens the door and
looks in, pen in hand.] Buying, did you say? What! All that? Has
my little spendthrift been making the money fly again?
NORA. Why, Torvald, surely we can afford to launch out a little
now. It's the first Christmas we haven't had to pinch.
HELMER. Come come; we can't afford to squander money.
NORA. Oh yes, Torvald, do let us squander a little, now- just the
least little bit! You know you'll soon be earning heaps of money.
HELMER. Yes, from New Year's Day. But there's a whole quarter
before my first salary is due.
NORA. Never mind; we can borrow in the meantime.
HELMER. Nora! [He goes up to her and takes her playfully by the
ear.] Still my little featherbrain! Supposing I borrowed a
thousand crowns to-day, and you made ducks and drakes of them
during Christmas week, and then on New Year's Eve a tile blew off
the roof and knocked my brains out-
NORA. [Laying her hand on his mouth.] Hush! How can you talk so
HELMER. But supposing it were to happen- what then?
NORA. If anything so dreadful happened, it would be all the same to
me whether I was in debt or not.
HELMER. But what about the creditors?
NORA. They! Who cares for them? They're only strangers.
HELMER. Nora, Nora! What a woman you are! But seriously, Nora, you
know my principles on these points. No debts! No borrowing! Home
life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on
borrowing and debt. We two have held out bravely till now, and we
are not going to give in at the last.
NORA. [Going to the fireplace.] Very well- as you please, Torvald.
HELMER. [Following her.] Come come; my little lark mustn't droop
her wings like that. What? Is my squirrel in the sulks? [Takes
out his purse.] Nora, what do you think I have here?
NORA. [Turning round quickly.] Money!
HELMER. There! [Gives her some notes.] Of course I know all sorts
of things are wanted at Christmas.
NORA. [Counting.] Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Oh, thank you, thank
you, Torvald! This will go a long way.
HELMER. I should hope so.
NORA. Yes, indeed; a long way! But come here, and let me show
you all I've been buying. And so cheap! Look, here's a new suit
for Ivar, and a little sword. Here are a horse and a trumpet for
Bob. And here are a doll and a cradle for Emmy. They're only
common; but they're good enough for her to pull to pieces. And
dress-stuffs and kerchiefs for the servants. I ought to have got
something better for old Anna.
HELMER. And what's in that other parcel?
NORA. [Crying out.] No, Torvald, you're not to see that until this
HELMER. Oh! Ah! But now tell me, you little spendthrift, have you
thought of anything for yourself?
NORA. For myself! Oh, I don't want anything.
HELMER. Nonsense! Just tell me something sensible you would like to
NORA. No, really I don't know of anything- Well, listen, Torvald-
NORA. [Playing with his coat-buttons, without looking him in the
face.] If you really want to give me something, you might, you
know- you might-
HELMER. Well? Out with it!
NORA. [Quickly.] You might give me money, Torvald. Only just what
you think you can spare; then I can buy something with it later
HELMER. But, Nora-
NORA. Oh, please do, dear Torvald, please do! I should hang the
money in lovely gilt paper on the Christmas-tree. Wouldn't that
HELMER. What do they call the birds that are always making the
NORA. Yes, I know- spendthrifts, * of course. But please do as I
ask you, Torvald. Then I shall have time to think what I want
most. Isn't that very sensible, now?
* "Spillefugl," literally "playbird," means a gambler.
HELMER. [Smiling.] Certainly; that is to say, if you really kept
the money I gave you, and really spent it on something for
yourself. But it all goes in housekeeping, and for all manner of
useless things, and then I have to pay up again.
NORA. But, Torvald-
HELMER. Can you deny it, Nora dear? [He puts his arm round her.]
It's a sweet little lark, but it gets through a lot of money. No
one would believe how much it costs a man to keep such a little
bird as you.
NORA. For shame! How can you say so? Why, I save as much as ever I
HELMER. [Laughing.] Very true- as much as you can- but that's
NORA. [Hums and smiles with covert glee.] H'm! If you only knew,
Torvald, what expenses we larks and squirrels have.
HELMER. You're a strange little being! Just like your father-
always on the look-out for all the money you can lay your hands
on; but the moment you have it, it seems to slip through your
fingers; you never know what becomes of it. Well, one must take
you as you are. It's in the blood. Yes, Nora, that sort of thing
NORA. I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.
HELMER. And I don't wish you anything but just what you are- my
own, sweet little song-bird. But I say- it strikes me you look
so- so- what shall I call it?- so suspicious to-day-
NORA. Do I?
HELMER. You do, indeed. Look me full in the face.
NORA. [Looking at him.] Well?
HELMER. [Threatening with his finger.] Hasn't the little
sweet-tooth been playing pranks to-day?
NORA. No; how can you think such a thing!
HELMER. Didn't she just look in at the confectioner's?
NORA. No, Torvald; really-
HELMER. Not to sip a little jelly?
NORA. No; certainly not.
HELMER. Hasn't she even nibbled a macaroon or two?
NORA. No, Torvald, indeed, indeed!
HELMER. Well, well, well; of course I'm only joking.
NORA. [Goes to the table on the right.] I shouldn't think of
doing what you disapprove of.
HELMER. No, I'm sure of that; and, besides, you've given me your
word- [Going towards her.] Well, keep your little Christmas
secrets to yourself, Nora darling. The Christmas-tree will bring
them all to light, I daresay.
NORA. Have you remembered to invite Doctor Rank?
HELMER. No. But it's not necessary; he'll come as a matter of
course. Besides, I shall ask him when he looks in to-day. I've
ordered some capital wine. Nora, you can't think how I look
forward to this evening.
NORA. And I too. How the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!
HELMER. Ah, it's glorious to feel that one has an assured position
and ample means. Isn't it delightful to think of?
NORA. Oh, it's wonderful!
HELMER. Do you remember last Christmas? For three whole weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long past
midnight to make flowers for the Christmas-tree, and all sorts
of other marvels that were to have astonished us. I was never
so bored in my life.
NORA. I didn't bore myself at all.
HELMER. [Smiling.] But it came to little enough in the end, Nora.
NORA. Oh, are you going to tease me about that again? How could I
help the cat getting in and pulling it all to pieces?
HELMER. To be sure you couldn't, my poor little Nora. You did your
best to give us all pleasure, and that's the main point. But, all
the same, it's a good thing the hard times are over.
NORA. Oh, isn't it wonderful?
HELMER. Now I needn't sit here boring myself all alone; and you
needn't tire your blessed eyes and your delicate little fingers-
NORA. [Clapping her hands.] No, I needn't, need I, Torvald? Oh, how
wonderful it is to think of? [Takes his arm.] And now I'll tell
you how I think we ought to manage, Torvald. As soon as Christmas
is over- [The hall-door bell rings.] Oh, there's a ring!
[Arranging the room.] That's somebody come to call. How tiresome!
HELMER. I'm "not at home" to callers; remember that.
ELLEN. [In the doorway.] A lady to see you, ma'am.
NORA. Show her in.
ELLEN. [To HELMER.] And the doctor has just come, sir.
HELMER. Has he gone into my study?
ELLEN. Yes, sir.
[HELMER goes into his study. ELLEN ushers in MRS. LINDEN,
in travelling costume, and goes out, closing the door.
MRS. LINDEN. [Embarrassed and hesitating.] How do you do, Nora?
NORA. [Doubtfully.] How do you do?
MRS. LINDEN. I see you don't recognise me!
NORA. No, I don't think- oh yes!- I believe- [Suddenly
brightening.] What, Christina! Is it really you?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; really I!
NORA. Christina! And to think I didn't know you! But how could I-
[More softly.] How changed you are; Christina!
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, no doubt. In nine or ten years-
NORA. Is it really so long since we met? Yes, so it is. Oh, the
last eight years have been a happy time, I can tell you. And now
you have come to town? All that long journey in mid-winter! How
brave of you!
MRS. LINDEN. I arrived by this morning's steamer.
NORA. To have a merry Christmas, of course. Oh, how delightful!
Yes, we will have a merry Christmas. Do take your things off.
Aren't you frozen? [Helping her.] There; now we'll sit cosily by
the fire. No, you take the arm-chair; I shall sit in this
rocking-chair. [Seizes her hands.] Yes, now I can see the dear
old face again. It was only at the first glance- But you're a
little paler, Christina- and perhaps a little thinner.
MRS. LINDEN. And much, much older, Nora.
NORA. Yes, perhaps a little older- not much- ever so little.
[She suddenly checks herself; seriously.] Oh, what a thoughtless
wretch I am! Here I sit chattering on, and- Dear, dear Christina,
can you forgive me!
MRS. LINDEN. What do you mean, Nora?
NORA. [Softly.] Poor Christina! I forgot: you are a widow.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; my husband died three years ago.
NORA. I know, I know; I saw it in the papers. Oh, believe me,
Christina, I did mean to write to you; but I kept putting it off,
and something always came in the way.
MRS. LINDEN. I can quite understand that, Nora dear.
NORA. No, Christina; it was horrid of me. Oh, you poor darling! how
much you must have gone through!- And he left you nothing?
MRS. LINDEN. Nothing.
NORA. And no children?
MRS. LINDEN. None.
NORA. Nothing, nothing at all?
MRS. LINDEN. Not even a sorrow or a longing to dwell upon.
NORA. [Looking at her incredulously.] My dear Christina, how is
MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling sadly and stroking her hair.] Oh, it happens
so sometimes, Nora.
NORA. So utterly alone! How dreadful that must be! I have three of
the loveliest children. I can't show them to you just now;
they're out with their nurse. But now you must tell me
MRS. LINDEN. No, no; I want you to tell me-
NORA. No, you must begin; I won't be egotistical to-day. To-day
I'll think only of you. Oh! but I must tell you one thing-
perhaps you've heard of our great stroke of fortune?
MRS. LINDEN. No. What is it?
NORA. Only think! my husband has been made manager of the Joint
MRS. LINDEN. Your husband! Oh, how fortunate!
NORA. Yes; isn't it? A lawyer's position is so uncertain, you see,
especially when he won't touch any business that's the least bit
shady, as of course Torvald never would; and there I quite agree
with him. Oh! you can imagine how glad we are. He is to enter on
his new position at the New Year, and then he'll have a large
salary, and percentages. In future we shall be able to live quite
differently- just as we please, in fact. Oh, Christina, I feel so
lighthearted and happy! It's delightful to have lots of money,
and no need to worry about things, isn't it?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; at any rate it must be delightful to have what
NORA. No, not only what you need, but heaps of money- heaps!
MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling.] Nora, Nora, haven't you learnt reason yet?
In our school days you were a shocking little spendthrift.
NORA. [Quietly smiling.] Yes; that's what Torvald says I am still.
[Holding up her forefinger.] But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as
you all think. Oh! I haven't had the chance to be much of a
spendthrift. We have both had to work.
MRS. LINDEN. You too?
NORA. Yes, light fancy work: crochet, and embroidery, and things of
that sort; [Carelessly] and other work too. You know, of course,
that Torvald left the Government service when we were married. He
had little chance of promotion, and of course he required to make
more money. But in the first year after our marriage he
overworked himself terribly. He had to undertake all sorts of
extra work, you know, and to slave early and late. He couldn't
stand it, and fell dangerously ill. Then the doctors declared he
must go to the South.
MRS. LINDEN. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?
NORA. Yes, we did. It wasn't easy to manage, I can tell you. It was
just after Ivar's birth. But of course we had to go. Oh, it was a
wonderful, delicious journey! And it saved Torvald's life. But it
cost a frightful lot of money, Christina.
MRS. LINDEN. So I should think.
NORA. Twelve hundred dollars! Four thousand eight hundred crowns! *
Isn't that a lot of money?
* The dollar (4s. 6d.) was the old unit of currency in Norway.
The crown was substituted for it shortly before the date of this play.
MRS. LINDEN. How lucky you had the money to spend!
NORA. We got it from father, you must know.
MRS. LINDEN. Ah, I see. He died just about that time, didn't he?
NORA. Yes, Christina, just then. And only think! I couldn't go and
nurse him! I was expecting little Ivar's birth daily; and then I
had my poor sick Torvald to attend to. Dear, kind old father! I
never saw him again, Christina. Oh! that's the hardest thing I
have had to bear since my marriage.
MRS. LINDEN. I know how fond you were of him. But then you went to
NORA. Yes; you see, we had the money, and the doctors said we must
lose no time. We started a month later.
MRS. LINDEN. And your husband came back completely cured.
NORA. Sound as a bell.
MRS. LINDEN. But- the doctor?
NORA. What do you mean?
MRS. LINDEN. I thought as I came in your servant announced the
NORA. Oh, yes; Doctor Rank. But he doesn't come professionally. He
is our best friend, and never lets a day pass without looking in.
No, Torvald hasn't had an hour's illness since that time. And the
children are so healthy and well, and so am I. [Jumps up and
claps her hands.] Oh, Christina, Christina, what a wonderful
thing it is to live and to be happy!- Oh, but it's really too
horrid of me! Here am I talking about nothing but my own
concerns. [Seats herself upon a footstool close to CHRISTINA, and
lays her arms on her friend's lap.] Oh. don't be angry with me!
Now tell me, is it really true that you didn't love your husband?
What made you marry him, then?
MRS. LINDEN. My mother was still alive, you see, bedridden and
helpless; and then I had my two younger brothers to think of.
I didn't think it would be right for me to refuse him.
NORA. Perhaps it wouldn't have been. I suppose he was rich then?
MRS. LINDEN. Very well off, I believe. But his business was
uncertain. It fell to pieces at his death, and there was
NORA. And then-?
MRS. LINDEN. Then I had to fight my way by keeping a shop, a little
school, anything I could turn my hand to. The last three years
have been one long struggle for me. But now it is over, Nora. My
poor mother no longer needs me; she is at rest. And the boys are
in business, and can look after themselves.
NORA. How free your life must feel!
MRS. LINDEN. No, Nora; only inexpressibly empty. No one to live
for! [Stands up restlessly.] That's why I could not bear to stay
any longer in that out-of-the-way corner. Here it must be easier
to find something to take one up- to occupy one's thoughts. If I
could only get some settled employment- some office work.
NORA. But, Christina, that's such drudgery, and you look worn out
already. It would be ever so much better for you to go to some
watering-place and rest.
MRS. LINDEN [Going to the window.] I have no father to give me the
NORA. [Rising.] Oh, don't be vexed with me.
MRS. LINDEN. [Going to her.] My dear Nora, don't you be vexed with
me. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so
bitter. You have no one to work for, yet you have to be always on
the strain. You must live; and so you become selfish. When I
heard of the happy change in your fortunes- can you believe it?-
I was glad for my own sake more than for yours.
NORA. How do you mean? Ah, I see! You think Torvald can perhaps do
something for you.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; I thought so.
NORA. And so he shall, Christina. Just you leave it all to me. I
shall lead up to it beautifully!- I shall think of some
delightful plan to put him in a good humour! Oh, I should so love
to help you.
MRS. LINDEN. How good of you, Nora, to stand by me so warmly!
Doubly good in you, who knows so little of the troubles and
burdens of life.
NORA. I? I know so little of-?
MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling.] Oh, well- a little fancy-work, and so
forth.- You're a child, Nora.
NORA. [Tosses her head and paces the room.] Oh, come, you mustn't
be so patronising!
MRS. LINDEN. No?
NORA. You're like the rest. You all think I'm fit for nothing
MRS. LINDEN. Well, well-
NORA. You think I've had no troubles in this weary world.
MRS. LINDEN. My dear Nora, you've just told me all your troubles.
NORA. Pooh- those trifles! [Softly.] I haven't told you the great
MRS. LINDEN. The great thing? What do you mean?
NORA. I know you look down upon me, Christina; but you have no
right to. You are proud of having worked so hard and so long for
MRS. LINDEN. I am sure I don't look down upon any one; but it's
true I am both proud and glad when I remember that I was able to
keep my mother's last days free from care.
NORA. And you're proud to think of what you have done for your
MRS. LINDEN. Have I not the right to be?
NORA. Yes indeed. But now let me tell you, Christina- I, too, have
something to be proud and glad of.
MRS. LINDEN. I don't doubt it. But what do you mean?
NORA. Hush! Not so loud. Only think, if Torvald were to hear! He
mustn't- not for worlds! No one must know about it, Christina- no
one but you.
MRS LINDEN. Why, what can it be?
NORA. Come over here. [Draws her down beside her on the sofa.] Yes,
Christina- I, too, have something to be proud and glad of. I
saved Torvald's life.
MRS. LINDEN. Saved his life? How?
NORA. I told you about our going to Italy. Torvald would have died
but for that.
MRS. LINDEN. Well- and your father gave you the money.
NORA. [Smiling.] Yes, so Torvald and every one believes; but-
MRS. LINDEN. But-?
NORA. Papa didn't give us one penny. It was I that found the money.
MRS. LINDEN. You? All that money?
NORA. Twelve hundred dollars. Four thousand eight hundred crowns.
What do you say to that?
MRS. LINDEN. My dear Nora, how did you manage it? Did you win it in
NORA. [Contemptuosly.] In the lottery? Pooh! Any one could have
MRS. LINDEN. Then wherever did you get it from?
NORA. [Hums and smiles mysteriously.] H'm; tra-la-la-la!
MRS. LINDEN. Of course you couldn't borrow it.
NORA. No? Why not?
MRS. LINDEN. Why, a wife can't borrow without her husband's
NORA. [Tossing her head.] Oh! when the wife has some idea of
business, and knows how to set about things-
MRS. LINDEN. But, Nora, I don't understand-
NORA. Well, you needn't. I never said I borrowed the money. There
are many ways I may have got it. [Throws herself back on the
sofa.] I may have got it from some admirer. When one is so-
attractive as I am-
MRS. LINDEN. You're too silly, Nora.
NORA. Now I'm sure you're dying of curiosity, Christina-
MRS. LINDEN. Listen to me, Nora dear: haven't you been a little
NORA. [Sitting upright again.] Is it rash to save one's husband's
MRS. LINDEN. I think it was rash of you, without his knowledge-
NORA. But it would have been fatal for him to know! Can't you
understand that? He wasn't even to suspect how ill he was. The
doctors came to me privately and told me his life was in danger-
that nothing could save him but a winter in the South. Do you
think I didn't try diplomacy first? I told him how I longed to
have a trip abroad, like other young wives; I wept and prayed; I
said he ought to think of my condition, and not to thwart me; and
then I hinted that he could borrow the money. But then,
Christina, he got almost angry. He said I was frivolous, and that
it was his duty as a husband not to yield to my whims and
fancies- so he called them. Very well, thought I, but saved you
must be; and then I found the way to do it.
MRS. LINDEN. And did your husband never learn from your father that
the money was not from him?
NORA. No; never. Papa died at that very time. I meant to have told
him all about it, and begged him to say nothing. But he was so
ill- unhappily, it wasn't necessary.
MRS. LINDEN. And you have never confessed to your husband?
NORA. Good heavens! What can you be thinking of of? Tell him when
he has such a loathing of debt And besides- how painful and
humiliating it would he for Torvald, with his manly self-respect,
to know that he owed anything to me! It would utterly upset the
relation between us; our beautiful, happy home would never again
be what it is.
MRS. LINDEN. Will you never tell him?
NORA. [Thoughtfully, half-smiling.] Yes, some time perhaps- many,
many years hence, when I'm- not so pretty. You mustn't laugh at
me! Of course I mean when Torvald is not so much in love with me
as he is now; when it doesn't amuse him any longer to see me
dancing about, and dressing up and acting. Then it might be well
to have something in reserve. [Breaking off.] Nonsense! nonsense!
That time will never come. Now, what do you say to my grand
secret, Christina? Am I fit for nothing now? You may believe it
has cost me a lot of anxiety. It has been no joke to meet my
engagements punctually. You must know, Christina, that in
business there are things called instalments, and quarterly
interest, that are terribly hard to provide for. So I've had to
pinch a little here and there, wherever I could. I couldn't save
much out of the housekeeping, for of course Torvald had to live
well. And I couldn't let the children go about badly dressed; all
I got for them, I spent on them, the blessed darlings!
MRS. LINDEN. Poor Nora! So it had to come out of your own
NORA. Yes, of course. After all, the whole thing was my doing. When
Torvald gave me money for clothes, and so on, I never spent more
than half of it; I always bought the simplest and cheapest
things. It's a mercy that everything suits me so well- Torvald
never had any suspicions. But it was often very hard, Christina
dear. For it's nice to be beautifully dressed- now, isn't it?
MRS.LINDEN. Indeed it is.
NORA. Well, and besides that, I made money in other ways. Last
winter I was so lucky- I got a heap of copying to do. I shut
myself up every evening and wrote far into the night. Oh,
sometimes I was so tired, so tired. And yet it was splendid to
work in that way and earn money. I almost felt as if I was a man.
MRS. LINDEN. Then how much have you been able to pay off?
NORA. Well, I can't precisely say. It's difficult to keep that sort
of business clear. I only know that I've paid everything I could
scrape together. Sometimes I really didn't know where to turn.
[Smiles.] Then I used to sit here and pretend that a rich old
gentleman was in love with me-
MRS. LINDEN. What! gentleman?
NORA. Oh, nobody!- that he was dead now, and that when his will was
opened, there stood in large letters: "Pay over at once
everything of which I die possessed to that charming person, Mrs.
MRS. LINDEN. But, my dear Nora- what gentleman do you mean?
NORA. Oh dear, can't you understand? There wasn't any old
gentleman: it was only what I used to dream and dream when I was
at my wits' end for money. But it doesn't matter now- the
tiresome old creature may stay where he is for me. I care nothing
for him or his will; for now my troubles are over. [Springing
up.] Oh, Christina, how glorious it is to think of! Free from all
anxiety! Free, quite free. To be able to play and romp about with
the children; to have things tasteful and pretty in the house,
exactly as Torvald likes it! And then the spring will soon be
here, with the great blue sky. Perhaps then we shall have a
little holiday. Perhaps I shall see the sea again. Oh, what a
wonderful thing it is to live and to be happy!
[The hall-door bell rings.
MRS. LINDEN. [Rising.] There's a ring. Perhaps I had better go.
NORA. No; do stay. No one will come here. It's sure to be some one
ELLEN. [In the doorway.] If you please, ma'am, there's a gentleman
to speak to Mr. Helmer.
NORA. Who is the gentleman?
KROGSTAD. [In the doorway.] It is I, Mrs. Helmer.
[MRS. LINDEN starts and turns away to the window.
NORA. [Goes a step towards him, anxiously, speaking low.] You? What
is it? What do you want with my husband?
KROGSTAD. Bank business- in a way. I hold a small post in the Joint
Stock Bank, and your husband is to be our new chief, I hear.
NORA. Then it is-?
KROGSTAD. Only tiresome business, Mrs. Helmer; nothing more.
NORA. Then will you please go to his study.
[KROGSTAD goes. She bows indifferently while she closes
the door into the hall. Then she goes to the stove and
looks to the fire.
MRS. LINDEN. Nora- who was that man?
NORA. A Mr. Krogstad- a lawyer.
MRS. LINDEN. Then it was really he?
NORA. Do you know him?
MRS. LINDEN. I used to know him- many years ago. He was in a
lawyer's office in our town.
NORA. Yes, so he was.
MRS. LINDEN. How he has changed!
NORA. I believe his marriage was unhappy.
MRS. LINDEN. And he is a widower now?
NORA. With a lot of children. There! Now it will burn up. [She
closes the stove, and pushes the rocking-chair a little aside.]
MRS. LINDEN. His business is not of the most creditable, they say?
NORA. Isn't it? I daresay not. I don't know. But don't let us think
of business- it's so tiresome.
DR. RANK comes out of HELMER'S room.
RANK. [Still in the doorway.] No, no; I'm in your way. I shall go
and have a chat with your wife. [Shuts the door and sees MRS.
LINDEN.] Oh, I beg your pardon. I'm in the way here too.
NORA. No, not in the least. [Introduces them.] Doctor Rank- Mrs.
RANK. Oh, indeed; I've often heard Mrs. Linden's name; I think I
passed you on the stairs as I came up.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; I go so very slowly. Stairs try me so much.
RANK. Ah- you are not very strong?
MRS. LINDEN. Only overworked.
RANK. Nothing more? Then no doubt you've come to town to find rest
in a round of dissipation?
MRS. LINDEN. I have come to look for employment.
RANK. Is that an approved remedy for overwork?
MRS. LINDEN. One must live, Doctor Rank.
RANK. Yes, that seems to be the general opinion.
NORA. Come, Doctor Rank- you want to live yourself.
RANK. To be sure I do. However wretched I may be, I want to drag on
as long as possible. All my patients, too, have the same mania.
And it's the same with people whose complaint is moral. At this
very moment Helmer is talking to just such a moral incurable-
MRS. LINDEN. [Softly.] Ah!
NORA. Whom do you mean?
RANK. Oh, a fellow named Krogstad, a man you know nothing about-
corrupt to the very core of his character. But even he began by
announcing, as a matter of vast importance, that he must live.
NORA. Indeed? And what did he want with Torvald?
RANK. I haven't an idea; I only gathered that it was some bank
NORA. I didn't know that Krog- that this Mr. Krogstad had anything
to do with the Bank?
RANK. Yes. He has got some sort of place there. [To MRS. LINDEN.]
I don't know whether in your part of the country, you have
people who go grubbing and sniffing around in search of moral
rottenness- and then, when they have found a "case," don't rest
till they have got their man into some good position, where they
can keep a watch upon him. Men with a clean bill of health they
leave out in the cold.
MRS. LINDEN. Well, I suppose the- delicate characters require most
RANK. [Shrugs his shoulders.] There we have it! It's that notion
that makes society a hospital.
[NORA, deep in her own thoughts, breaks into half-stifled
laughter and claps her hands.
RANK. Why do you laugh at that? Have you any idea what "society"
NORA. What do I care for your tiresome society? I was laughing at
something else- something excessively amusing. Tell me, Doctor
Rank, are all the employees at the Bank dependent on Torvald now?
RANK. Is that what strikes you as excessively amusing?
NORA. [Smiles and hums.] Never mind, never mind! [Walks about the
room.] Yes, it is funny to think that we- that Torvald has such
power over so many people. [Takes the bag from her pocket.]
Doctor Rank, will you have a macaroon?
RANK. What!- macaroons! I thought they were contraband here.
NORA. Yes; but Christina brought me these.
MRS. LINDEN. What! I-?
NORA. Oh, well! Don't be frightened. You couldn't possibly know
that Torvald had forbidden them. The fact is, he's afraid of me
spoiling my teeth. But, oh bother, just for once!- That's for
you, Doctor Rank! [Puts a macaroon into his mouth.] And you too,
Christina. And I'll have one while we're about it- only a tiny
one, or at most two. [Walks about again.] Oh dear, I am happy!
There's only one thing in the world I really want.
RANK. Well; what's that?
NORA. There's something I should so like to say- in Torvald's
RANK. Then why don't you say it?
NORA. Because I daren't, it's so ugly.
MRS. LINDEN. Ugly!
RANK. In that case you'd better not. But to us you might- What is
it you would so like to say in Helmer's hearing?
NORA. I should so love to say "Damn it all!" *
* "Dod og pine," literally "death and torture"; but by usage a
comparatively mild oath.
RANK. Are you out of your mind?
MRS. LINDEN. Good gracious, Nora-!
RANK. Say it- there he is!
NORA. [Hides the macaroons.] Hush- sh- sh!
HELMER comes out of his room, hat in hand, with
his overcoat on his arm.
NORA. [Going to him.] Well, Torvald dear, have you got rid of him?
HELMER. Yes; he has just gone.
NORA. Let me introduce you- this is Christina, who has come to
HELMER. Christina? Pardon me, I don't know-
NORA. Mrs. Linden, Torvald dear- Christina Linden.
HELMER. [To MRS. LINDEN.] Indeed! A school-friend of my wife's, no
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; we knew each other as girls.
NORA. And only think! she has taken this long journey on purpose to
speak to you.
HELMER. To speak to me!
MRS. LINDEN. Well, not quite-
NORA. You see, Christina is tremendously clever at office-work, and
she's so anxious to work under a first-rate man of business in
order to learn still more-
HELMER. [To MRS. LINDEN.] Very sensible indeed.
NORA. And when she heard you were appointed manager-
it was telegraphed, you know- she started off at once, and-
Torvald, dear, for my sake, you must do something for Christina.
Now can't you?
HELMER. It's not impossible. I presume Mrs. Linden is a widow?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes.
HELMER. And you have already had some experience of business?
MRS. LINDEN. A good deal.
HELMER. Well, then, it's very likely I may be able to find a place
NORA. [Clapping her hands.] There now! There now!
HELMER. You have come at a fortunate moment, Mrs. Linden.
MRS. LINDEN. Oh, how can I thank you-?
HELMER. [Smiling.] There is no occasion. [Puts on his overcoat.]
But for the present you must excuse me-
RANK. Wait; I am going with you. [Fetches his fur coat from the
hall and warms it at the fire.]
NORA. Don't be long, Torvald dear.
HELMER. Only an hour; not more.
NORA. Are you going too, Christina?
MRS. LINDEN. [Putting on her walking things.] Yes; I must set about
looking for lodgings.
HELMER. Then perhaps we can go together?
NORA. [Helping her.] What a pity we haven't a spare room for you;
but it's impossible-
MRS. LINDEN. I shouldn't think of troubling you. Good-bye, dear
Nora, and thank you for all your kindness.
NORA. Good-bye for the present. Of course you'll come back this
evening. And you, too, Doctor Rank. What! If you're well enough?
Of course you'll be well enough. Only wrap up warmly. [They go
out, talking, into the hall. Outside on the stairs are heard
children's voices.] There they are! There they are! [She runs to
the outer door and opens it. The nurse, ANNA, enters the hall
with the children.] Come in! Come in! [Stoops down and kisses the
children.] Oh, my sweet darlings! Do you see them, Christina?
Aren't they lovely?
RANK. Don't let us stand here chattering in the draught.
HELMER. Come, Mrs. Linden; only mothers can stand such a
[DR. RANK, HELMER, and MRS. LINDEN go down the stairs;
ANNA enters the room with the children; NORA also,
shutting the door.
NORA. How fresh and bright you look! And what red cheeks you've
got! Like apples and roses. [The children chatter to her during
what follows.] Have you had great fun? That's splendid! Oh,
really! You've been giving Emmy and Bob a ride on your sledge!-
both at once, only think, Why, you're quite a man, Ivar. Oh, give
her to me a little, Anna. My sweet little dolly! [Takes the
smallest from the nurse and dances with her.] Yes, yes; mother
will dance with Bob too. What! Did you have a game of snowballs?
Oh, I wish I'd been there. No; leave them, Anna; I'll take their
things off. Oh, yes, let me do it; it's such fun. Go to the
nursery; you look frozen. You'll find some hot coffee on the
[The NURSE goes into the room on the left. NORA takes
off the children's things and throws them down
anywhere, while the children talk all together.
Really! A big dog ran after you? But he didn't bite you? No; dogs
don't bite dear little dolly children. Don't peep into those
parcels, Ivar. What is it? Wouldn't you like to know? Take care-
it'll bite! What? Shall we have a game? What shall we play at?
Hide-and-seek? Yes, let's play hide-and-seek. Bob shall hide
first. Am I to? Yes, let me hide first.
[She and the children play, with laughter and shouting,
in the room and the adjacent one to the right. At last
NORA hides under the table; the children come rushing
in, look for her, but cannot find her, hear her
half-choked laughter, rush to the table, lift up the
cover and see her. Loud shouts. She creeps out, as
though to frighten them. Fresh shouts. Meanwhile there
has been a knock at the door leading into the hall. No
one has heard it. Now the door is half opened and
KROGSTAD appears. He waits a little; the game is
KROGSTAD. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Helmer-
NORA. [With a suppressed cry, turns round and half jumps up.] Ah!
What do you want?
KROGSTAD. Excuse me; the outer door was ajar- somebody must have
forgotten to shut it-
NORA. [Standing up.] My husband is not at home, Mr. Krogstad.
KROGSTAD. I know it.
NORA. Then what do you want here?
KROGSTAD. To say a few words to you.
NORA. To me? [To the children, softly.] Go in to Anna. What? No,
the strange man won't hurt mamma. When he's gone we'll go on
playing. [She leads the children into the left-hand room, and
shuts the door behind them. Uneasy, in suspense.] It is to me you
wish to speak?
KROGSTAD. Yes, to you.
NORA. To-day? But it's not the first yet-
KROGSTAD. No, to-day is Christmas Eve. It will depend upon yourself
whether you have a merry Christmas.
NORA. What do you want? I'm not ready to-day-
KROGSTAD. Never mind that just now. I have come about another
matter. You have a minute to spare?
NORA. Oh, yes, I suppose so; although-
KROGSTAD. Good. I was sitting in the restaurant opposite, and I saw
your husband go down the street-
KROGSTAD. -with a lady.
NORA. What then?
KROGSTAD. May I ask if the lady was a Mrs Linden?
KROGSTAD. Who has just come to town?
NORA. Yes. To-day.
KROGSTAD. I believe she is an intimate friend of yours.
NORA. Certainly. But I don't understand-
KROGSTAD. I used to know her too.
NORA. I know you did.
KROGSTAD. Ah! You know all about it. I thought as much. Now,
frankly, is Mrs. Linden to have a place in the Bank?
NORA. How dare you catechise me in this way, Mr. Krogstad- you, a
subordinate of my husband's? But since you ask, you shall know.
Yes, Mrs. Linden is to be employed. And it is I who recommended
her, Mr. Krogstad. Now you know.
KROGSTAD. Then my guess was right.
NORA. [Walking up and down.] You see one has a wee bit of
influence, after all. It doesn't follow because one's only a
woman- When people are in a subordinate position, Mr. Krogstad,
they ought really to be careful how they offend anybody who- h'm-
KROGSTAD. -who has influence?
KROGSTAD. [Taking another tone.] Mrs. Helmer, will you have the
kindness to employ your influence on my behalf?
NORA. What? How do you mean?
KROGSTAD. Will you be so good as to see that I retain my
subordinate position in the Bank?
NORA. What do you mean? Who wants to take it from you?
KROGSTAD. Oh, you needn't pretend ignorance. I can very well
understand that it cannot be pleasant for your friend to meet
me; and I can also understand now for whose sake I am to be
NORA. But I assure you-
KROGSTAD. Come come now, once for all: there is time yet, and I
advise you to use your influence to prevent it.
NORA. But, Mr. Krogstad, I have no influence- absolutely none.
KROGSTAD. None? I thought you said a moment ago-
NORA. Of course not in that sense. I! How can you imagine that I
should have any such influence over my husband?
KROGSTAD. Oh, I know your husband from our college days. I don't
think he is any more inflexible than other husbands.
NORA. If you talk disrespectfully of my husband, I must request
you to leave the house.
KROGSTAD. You are bold, madam.
NORA. I am afraid of you no longer. When New Year's Day is over,
I shall soon be out of the whole business.
KROGSTAD. [Controlling himself.] Listen to me, Mrs. Helmer.
If need be, I shall fight as though for my life to keep
my little place in the Bank.
NORA. Yes, so it seems.
KROGSTAD. It's not only for the salary: that is what I care least
about. It's something else- Well, I had better make a clean
breast of it. Of course you know, like every one else, that some
years ago I- got into trouble.
NORA. I think I've heard something of the sort.
KROGSTAD. The matter never came into court; but from that moment
all paths were barred to me. Then I took up the business you know
about. I had to turn my hand to something; and I don't think I've
been one of the worst. But now I must get clear of it all. My
sons are growing up; for their sake I must try to recover my
character as well as I can. This place in the Bank was the first
step; and now your husband wants to kick me off the ladder, back
into the mire.
NORA. But I assure you, Mr. Krogstad, I haven't the least power to
KROGSTAD. That is because you have not the will; but I can compel
NORA. You won't tell my husband that I owe you money?
KROGSTAD. H'm; suppose I were to?
NORA. It would be shameful of you. [With tears in her voice.] The
secret that is my joy and my pride- that he should learn it in
such an ugly, coarse way- and from you. It would involve me in
all sorts of unpleasantness-
KROGSTAD. Only unpleasantness?
NORA. [Hotly.] But just do it. It's you that will come off worst,
for then my husband will see what a bad man you are, and then you
certainly won't keep your place.
KROGSTAD. I asked whether it was only domestic unpleasantness you
NORA. If my husband gets to know about it, he will of course pay
you off at once, and then we shall have nothing more to do with
KROGSTAD. [Coming a pace nearer.] Listen, Mrs. Helmer: either your
memory is defective, or you don't know much about business. I
must make the position a little clearer to you.
NORA. How so?
KROGSTAD. When your husband was ill, you came to me to borrow
twelve hundred dollars.
NORA. I knew of nobody else.
KROGSTAD. I promised to find you the money-
NORA. And you did find it.
KROGSTAD. I promised to find you the money, on certain conditions.
You were so much taken up at the time about your husband's
illness, and so eager to have the wherewithal for your journey,
that you probably did not give much thought to the details. Allow
me to remind you of them. I promised to find you the amount in
exchange for a note of hand, which I drew up.
NORA. Yes, and I signed it.
KROGSTAD. Quite right. But then I added a few lines, making your
father security for the debt. Your father was to sign this.
NORA. Was to-? He did sign it!
KROGSTAD. I had left the date blank. That is to say, your father
was himself to date his signature. Do you recollect that?
NORA. Yes, I believe-
KROGSTAD. Then I gave you the paper to send to your father, by
post. Is not that so?
KROGSTAD. And of course you did so at once; for within five or six
days you brought me back the document with your father's
signature; and I handed you the money.
NORA. Well? Have I not made my payments punctually?
KROGSTAD. Fairly- yes. But to return to the point: You were in
great trouble at the time, Mrs. Helmer.
NORA. I was indeed!
KROGSTAD. Your father was very ill, I believe?
NORA. He was on his death-bed.
KROGSTAD. And died soon after?
KROGSTAD. Tell me, Mrs. Helmer: do you happen to recollect the day
of his death? The day of the month, I mean?
NORA. Father died on the 29th of September.
KROGSTAD. Quite correct. I have made inquiries. And here comes in
the remarkable point- [Produces a paper.] which I cannot explain.
NORA. What remarkable point? I don't know-
KROGSTAD. The remarkable point, madam, that your father signed this
paper three days after his death!
NORA. What! I don't understand-
KROGSTAD. Your father died on the 29th of September. But look here:
he has dated his signature October 2nd! Is not that remarkable,
Mrs. Helmer? [NORA is silent.] Can you explain it? [NORA
continues silent.] It is noteworthy, too, that the words
"October 2nd" and the year are not in your father's handwriting,
but in one which I believe I know. Well, this may be explained;
your father may have forgotten to date his signature, and
somebody may have added the date at random, before the fact of
your father's death was known. There is nothing wrong in that.
Everything depends on the signature. Of course it is genuine,
Mrs. Helmer? It was really your father himself who wrote his name
NORA. [After a short silence, throws her head back and looks
defiantly at him.] No, it was not. I wrote father's name.
KROGSTAD. Ah!- Are you aware, madam, that that is a dangerous
NORA. How so? You will soon get your money.
KROGSTAD. May I ask you one more question? Why did you not send the
paper to your father?
NORA. It was impossible. Father was ill. If I had asked him for his
signature, I should have had to tell him why I wanted the money;
but he was so ill I really could not tell him that my husband's
life was in danger. It was impossible.
KROGSTAD. Then it would have been better to have given up your
NORA. No, I couldn't do that; my husband's life depended on that
journey. I couldn't give it up.
KROGSTAD. And did it never occur to you that you were playing me
NORA. That was nothing to me. I didn't care in the least about you.
I couldn't endure you for all the cruel difficulties you made,
although you knew how ill my husband was.
KROGSTAD. Mrs. Helmer, you evidently do not realise what you have
been guilty of. But I can assure you it was nothing more and
nothing worse that made me an outcast from society.
NORA. You! You want me to believe that you did a brave thing to
save your wife's life?
KROGSTAD. The law takes no account of motives.
NORA. Then it must be a very bad law.
KROGSTAD. Bad or not, if I produce this document in court, you will
be condemned according to law.
NORA. I don't believe that. Do you mean to tell me that a daughter
has no right to spare her dying father trouble and anxiety?- that
a wife has no right to save her husband's life? I don't know much
about the law, but I'm sure you'll find, somewhere or another,
that that is allowed. And you don't know that- you, a lawyer! You
must be a bad one, Mr. Krogstad.
KROGSTAD. Possibly. But business- such business as ours- I do
understand. You believe that? Very well; now do as you please.
But this I may tell you, that if I am flung into the gutter a
second time, you shall keep me company.
[Bows and goes out through hall.
NORA. [Stands a while thinking, then tosses her head.] Oh nonsense!
He wants to frighten me. I'm not so foolish as that. [Begins
folding the children's clothes. Pauses.] But-? No, it's
impossible! Why, I did it for love!
CHILDREN. [At the door, left.] Mamma, the strange man has gone now.
NORA. Yes, yes, I know. But don't tell any one about the strange
man. Do you hear? Not even papa!
CHILDREN. No, mamma; and now will you play with us again?
NORA. No, no; not now.
CHILDREN. Oh, do, mamma; you know you promised.
NORA. Yes, but I can't just now. Run to the nursery; I have so much
to do. Run along,- run along, and be good, my darlings! [She
pushes them gently into the inner room, and closes the door
behind them. Sits on the sofa, embroiders a few stitches, but
soon pauses.] No! [Throws down the work, rises, goes to the hall
door and calls out.] Ellen, bring in the Christmas-tree! [Goes to
table, left, and opens the drawer, again pauses.] No, it's quite
ELLEN. [With Christmas-tree.] Where shall I stand it, ma'am?
NORA. There, in the middle of the room.
ELLEN. Shall I bring in anything else?
NORA. No, thank you, I have all I want.
[ELLEN, having put down the tree, goes out.
NORA. [Busy dressing the tree.] There must be a candle here- and
flowers there.- That horrible man! Nonsense, nonsense! there's
nothing to be afraid of. The Christmas-tree shall be beautiful.
I'll do everything to please you, Torvald; I'll sing and dance,-
Enter HELMER by the hall door, with a bundle of documents.
NORA. Oh! You're back already?
HELMER. Yes. Has anybody been here?
HELMER. That's odd. I saw Krogstad come out of the house.
NORA. Did you? Oh, yes, by-the-bye, he was here for a minute.
HELMER. Nora, I can see by your manner that he has been begging you
to put in a good word for him.
HELMER. And you were to do it as if of your own accord? You were to
say nothing to me of his having been here. Didn't he suggest that
NORA. Yes, Torvald; but-
HELMER. Nora, Nora! And you could condescend to that! To speak to
such a man, to make him a promise! And then to tell me an untruth
NORA. An untruth!
HELMER. Didn't you say that nobody had been here? [Threatens with
his finger.] My little bird must never do that again! A song-bird
must sing clear and true; no false notes. [Puts his arm round
her.] That's so, isn't it? Yes, I was sure of it. [Lets her go]
And now we'll say no more about it. [Sits down before the fire.]
Oh, how cosy and quiet it is here! [Glances into his documents.]
NORA. [Busy with the tree, after a short silence.] Torvald!
NORA. I'm looking forward so much to the Stenborgs' fancy ball
the day after to-morrow.
HELMER. And I'm on tenterhooks to see what surprise you have in
store for me.
NORA. Oh, it's too tiresome!
HELMER. What is?
NORA. I can't think of anything good. Everything seems so foolish
HELMER. Has little Nora made that discovery?
NORA. [Behind his chair, with her arms on the back.] Are you very
NORA. What papers are those?
HELMER. Bank business.
HELMER. I have got the retiring manager to let me make some
necessary changes in the staff and the organization. I can do
this during Christmas week. I want to have everything straight
by the New Year.
NORA. Then that's why that poor Krogstad-
NORA. [Still leaning over the chair-back and slowly stroking his
hair.] If you hadn't been so very busy, I should have asked you a
great, great favour, Torvald.
HELMER. What can it be? Out with it.
NORA. Nobody has such perfect taste as you; and I should so love to
look well at the fancy ball. Torvald, dear, couldn't you take me
in hand, and settle what I'm to be, and arrange my costume for
HELMER. Aha! So my wilful little woman is at a loss, and making
signals of distress.
NORA. Yes, please, Torvald. I can't get on without your help.
HELMER. Well, well, I'll think it over, and we'll soon hit upon
NORA. Oh, how good that is of you! [Goes to the tree again; pause.]
How well the red flowers show.- Tell me, was it anything so very
dreadful this Krogstad got into trouble about?
HELMER. Forgery, that's all. Don't you know what that means?
NORA. Mayn't he have been driven to it by need?
HELMER. Yes; or, like so many others, he may have done it in pure
heedlessness. I am not so hard-hearted as to condemn a man
absolutely for a single fault.
NORA. No, surely not, Torvald!
HELMER. Many a man can retrieve his character, if he owns his crime
and takes the punishment.
HELMER. But Krogstad didn't do that. He evaded the law by means of
tricks and subterfuges; and that is what has morally ruined him.
NORA. Do you think that-?
HELMER. Just think how a man with a thing of that sort on his
conscience must be always lying and canting and shamming. Think
of the mask he must wear even towards those who stand nearest
him- towards his own wife and children. The effect on the
children- that's the most terrible part of it, Nora.
HELMER. Because in such an atmosphere of lies home life is poisoned
and contaminated in every fibre. Every breath the children draw
contains some germ of evil.
NORA. [Closer behind him.] Are you sure of that?
HELMER. As a lawyer, my dear, I have seen it often enough. Nearly
all cases of early corruption may be traced to lying mothers.
NORA. Why- mothers?
HELMER. It generally comes from the mother's side; but of course
the father's influence may act in the same way. Every lawyer
knows it too well. And here has this Krogstad been poisoning his
own children for years past by a life of lies and hypocrisy- that
is why I call him morally ruined. [Holds out both hands to her.]
So my sweet little Nora must promise not to plead his cause.
Shake hands upon it. Come, come, what's this? Give me your hand.
That's right. Then it's a bargain. I assure you it would have
been impossible for me to work with him. It gives me a positive
sense of physical discomfort to come in contact with such people.
[NORA draws her hand away, and moves to the other side
of the Christmas-tree.
NORA. How warm it is here. And I have so much to do.
HELMER. [Rises and gathers up his papers.] Yes, and I must try to
get some of these papers looked through before dinner. And I
shall think over your costume too. Perhaps I may even find
something to hang in gilt paper on the Christmas-tree-. [Lays
his hand on her head.] My precious little song-bird!
[He goes into his room and shuts the door.
NORA. [Softly, after a pause.] It can't be. It's impossible. It
must be impossible!
ANNA. [At the door, left.] The little ones are begging so prettily
to come to mamma.
NORA. No, no, no; don't let them come to me! Keep them with you,
ANNA. Very well, ma'am. [Shuts the door.
NORA. [Pale with terror.] Corrupt my children!- Poison my home!
[Short pause. She throws back her head.] It's not true! It can
never, never be true!
The same room. In the corner, beside the piano, stands the
Christmas-tree, stripped, and with the candles burnt out. NORA's
outdoor things lie on the sofa.
NORA, alone, is walking about restlessly. At last she stops by
the sofa, and takes up her cloak.
NORA. [Dropping the cloak.] There's somebody coming! [Goes to the
hall door and listens.] Nobody; of course nobody will come
to-day, Christmas-day; nor to-morrow either. But perhaps- [Opens
the door and looks out.]- No, nothing in the letter box; quite
empty. [Comes forward.] Stuff and nonsense! Of course he won't
really do anything. Such a thing couldn't happen. It's
impossible! Why, I have three little children.
ANNA enters from the left, with a large cardboard box.
ANNA. I've found the box with the fancy dress at last.
NORA. Thanks; put it down on the table.
ANNA. [Does so.] But I'm afraid it's very much out of order.
NORA. Oh, I wish I could tear it into a hundred thousand pieces!
ANNA. Oh, no. It can easily be put to rights- just a little
NORA. I shall go and get Mrs. Linden to help me.
ANNA. Going out again? In such weather as this! You'll catch cold,
ma'am, and be ill.
NORA. Worse things might happen.- What are the children doing?
ANNA. They're playing with their Christmas presents, poor little
NORA. Do they often ask for me?
ANNA. You see they've been so used to having their mamma with them.
NORA. Yes; but, Anna, I can't have them so much with me in future.
ANNA. Well, little children get used to anything.
NORA. Do you think they do? Do you believe they would forget their
mother if she went quite away?
ANNA. Gracious me! Quite away?
NORA. Tell me, Anna- I've so often wondered about it- how could you
bring yourself to give your child up to strangers?
ANNA. I had to when I came to nurse my little Miss Nora.
NORA. But how could you make up your mind to it?
ANNA. When I had the chance of such a good place? A poor girl who's
been in trouble must take what comes. That wicked man did nothing
NORA. But your daughter must have forgotten you.
ANNA. Oh, no, ma'am, that she hasn't. She wrote to me both when she
was confirmed and when she was married.
NORA. [Embracing her.] Dear old Anna- you were a good mother to me
when I was little.
ANNA. My poor little Nora had no mother but me.
NORA. And if my little ones had nobody else, I'm sure you would-
Nonsense, nonsense! [Opens the box.] Go in to the children. Now I
must- You'll see how lovely I shall be to-morrow.
ANNA. I'm sure there will be no one at the ball so lovely as my
[She goes into the room on the left.
NORA. [Takes the costume out of the box, but soon throws it down
again.] Oh, if I dared go out. If only nobody would come. If only
nothing would happen here in the meantime. Rubbish; nobody is
coming. Only not to think. What a delicious muff! Beautiful
gloves, beautiful gloves! To forget- to forget! One, two, three,
four, five, six- [With a scream.] Ah, there they come.
[Goes towards the door, then stands irresolute.
MRS. LINDEN enters from the hall, where she has
taken off her things.
NORA. Oh, it's you, Christina. There's nobody else there? I'm so
glad you have come.
MRS. LINDEN. I hear you called at my lodgings.
NORA. Yes, I was just passing. There's something you must help me
with. Let us sit here on the sofa so. To-morrow evening there's
to be a fancy ball at Consul Stenborg's overhead, and Torvald
wants me to appear as a Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the
tarantella; I learned it at Capri.
MRS. LINDEN. I see- quite a performance.
NORA. Yes, Torvald wishes it. Look, this is the costume; Torvald
had it made for me in Italy. But now it's all so torn, I don't
MRS. LINDEN. Oh, we shall soon set that to rights. It's only the
trimming that has come loose here and there. Have you a needle
and thread? Ah, here's the very thing.
NORA. Oh, how kind of you.
MRS. LINDEN. [Sewing.] So you're to be in costume to-morrow, Nora?
I'll tell you what- I shall come in for a moment to see you in
all your glory. But I've quite forgotten to thank you for the
pleasant evening yesterday.
NORA. [Rises and walks across the room.] Oh, yesterday, it didn't
seem so pleasant as usual.- You should have come to town a little
sooner, Christina.- Torvald has certainly the art of making home
bright and beautiful.
MRS. LINDEN. You too, I should think, or you wouldn't be your
father's daughter. But tell me- is Doctor Rank always so
depressed as he was last evening?
NORA. No, yesterday it was particularly noticeable. You see, he
suffers from a dreadful illness. He has spinal consumption,
poor fellow. They say his father was a horrible man, who kept
mistresses and all sorts of things- so the son has been sickly
from his childhood, you understand.
MRS. LINDEN. [Lets her sewing fall into her lap.] Why, my darling
Nora, how do you come to know such things?
NORA. [Moving about the room.] Oh, when one has three children, one
sometimes has visits from women who are half- half doctors- and
they talk of one thing and another.
MRS. LINDEN. [Goes on sewing; a short pause.] Does Doctor Rank come
here every day?
NORA. Every day of his life. He has been Torvald's most intimate
friend from boyhood, and he's a good friend of mine too. Doctor
Rank is quite one of the family.
MRS. LINDEN. But tell me- is he quite sincere? I mean, isn't he
rather given to flattering people?
NORA. No, quite the contrary. Why should you think so?
MRS. LINDEN. When you introduced us yesterday he said he had often
heard my name; but I noticed afterwards that your husband had no
notion who I was. How could Doctor Rank-?
NORA. He was quite right, Christina. You see, Torvald loves me so
indescribably, he wants to have me all to himself, as he says.
When we were first married he was almost jealous if I even
mentioned any of my old friends at home; so naturally I gave up
doing it. But I often talk of the old times to Doctor Rank, for
he likes to hear about them.
MRS. LINDEN. Listen to me, Nora! You are still a child in many
ways. I am older than you, and have had more experience. I'll
tell you something? You ought to get clear of all this with Dr.
NORA. Get clear of what?
MRS. LINDEN. The whole affair, I should say. You were talking
yesterday of a rich admirer who was to find you money-
NORA. Yes, one who never existed, worse luck. What then?
MRS. LINDEN. Has Doctor Rank money?
NORA. Yes, he has.
MRS. LINDEN. And nobody to provide for?
NORA. Nobody. But-?
MRS. LINDEN. And he comes here every day?
NORA. Yes, I told you so.
MRS. LINDEN. I should have thought he would have had better taste.
NORA. I don't understand you a bit.
MRS. LINDEN. Don't pretend, Nora. Do you suppose I can't guess who
lent you the twelve hundred dollars?
NORA. Are you out of your senses? How can you think such a thing? A
friend who comes here every day! Why, the position would be
MRS. LINDEN. Then it really is not he?
NORA. No, I assure you. It never for a moment occurred to me-
Besides, at that time he had nothing to lend; he came into his
MRS. LINDEN. Well, I believe that was lucky for you, Nora dear.
NORA. No, really, it would never have struck me to ask Dr. Rank-
And yet, I'm certain that if I did-
MRS. LINDEN. But of course you never would.
NORA. Of course not. It's inconceivable that it should ever be
necessary. But I'm quite sure that if I spoke to Doctor Rank-
MRS. LINDEN. Behind your husband's back?
NORA. I must get clear of the other thing; that's behind his back
too. I must get clear of that.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes, I told you so yesterday; but-
NORA. [Walking up and down.] A man can manage these things much
better than a woman.
MRS. LINDEN. One's own husband, yes.
NORA. Nonsense. [Stands still.] When everything is paid, one gets
back the paper.
MRS. LINDEN. Of course.
NORA. And can tear it into a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it
up, the nasty, filthy thing!
MRS. LINDEN. [Looks at her fixedly, lays down her work, and rises
slowly.] Nora, you are hiding something from me.
NORA. Can you see it in my face?
MRS. LINDEN. Something has happened since yesterday morning. Nora,
what is it?
NORA. [Going towards her.] Christina-! [Listens.] Hush! There's
Torvald coming home. Do you mind going into the nursery for the
present? Torvald can't bear to see dressmaking going on. Get Anna
to help you.
MRS. LINDEN. [Gathers some of the things together.] Very well; but
I shan't go away until you have told me all about it.
[She goes out to the left, as HELMER enters from the
NORA. [Runs to meet him.] Oh, how I've been longing for you to
come, Torvald dear!
HELMER. Was that the dressmaker-?
NORA. No, Christina. She's helping me with my costume. You'll see
how nice I shall look.
HELMER. Yes, wasn't that a happy thought of mine?
NORA. Splendid! But isn't it good of me, too, to have given in to
you about the tarantella?
HELMER. [Takes her under the chin.] Good of you! To give in to your
own husband? Well well, you little madcap, I know you don't mean
it. But I won't disturb you. I daresay you want to be "trying
NORA. And you are going to work, I suppose?
HELMER. Yes. [Shows her a bundle of papers.] Look here. I've just
come from the Bank-
[Goes towards his room.
HELMER. [Stopping.] Yes?
NORA. If your little squirrel were to beg you for something so
NORA. Would you do it?
HELMER. I must know first what it is.
NORA. The squirrel would skip about and play all sorts of tricks if
you would only be nice and kind.
HELMER. Come, then, out with it.
NORA. Your lark would twitter from morning till night-
HELMER. Oh, that she does in any case.
NORA. I'll be an elf and dance in the moonlight for you, Torvald.
HELMER. Nora- you can't mean what you were hinting at this morning?
NORA. [Coming nearer.] Yes, Torvald, I beg and implore you!
HELMER. Have you really the courage to begin that again?
NORA. Yes, yes; for my sake, you must let Krogstad keep his place
in the Bank.
HELMER. My dear Nora, it's his place I intend for Mrs. Linden.
NORA. Yes, that's so good of you. But instead of Krogstad, you
could dismiss some other clerk.
HELMER. Why, this is incredible obstinacy! Because you have
thoughtlessly promised to put in a word for him, I am to-!
NORA. It's not that, Torvald. It's for your own sake. This man
writes for the most scurrilous newspapers; you said so yourself.
He can do you no end of harm. I'm so terribly afraid of him-
HELMER. Ah, I understand; it's old recollections that are
NORA. What do you mean?
HELMER. Of course you're thinking of your father.
NORA. Yes- yes, of course. Only think of the shameful slanders
wicked people used to write about father. I believe they would
have got him dismissed if you hadn't been sent to look into the
thing, and been kind to him, and helped him.
HELMER. My little Nora, between your father and me there is all the
difference in the world. Your father was not altogether
unimpeachable. I am; and I hope to remain so.
NORA. Oh, no one knows what wicked men may hit upon. We could live
so quietly and happily now, in our cosy, peaceful home, you and I
and the children, Torvald! That's why I beg and implore you-
HELMER. And it is just by pleading his cause that you make it
impossible for me to keep him. It's already known at the Bank
that I intend to dismiss Krogstad. If it were now reported that
the new manager let himself be turned round his wife's little
NORA. What then?
HELMER. Oh, nothing, so long as a wilful woman can have her way-!
I am to make myself a laughing-stock to the whole staff, and set
people saying that I am open to all sorts of outside influence?
Take my word for it, I should soon feel the consequences. And
besides there is one thing that makes Krogstad impossible for me
to work with-
NORA. What thing?
HELMER. I could perhaps have overlooked his moral failings at a
NORA. Yes, couldn't you, Torvald?
HELMER. And I hear he is good at his work. But the fact is, he was
a college chum of mine- there was one of those rash friendships
between us that one so often repents of later. I may as well
confess it at once- he calls me by my Christian name; * and he is
tactless enough to do it even when others are present. He
delights in putting on airs of familiarity- Torvald here, Torvald
there! I assure you it's most painful to me. He would make my
position at the Bank perfectly unendurable.
* In the original, "We say 'thou' to each other."
NORA. Torvald, surely you're not serious?
HELMER. No? Why not?
NORA. That's such a petty reason.
HELMER. What! Petty! Do you consider me petty!
NORA. No, on the contrary, Torvald dear; and that's just why-
HELMER. Never mind; you call my motives petty; then I must be petty
too. Petty! Very well!- Now we'll put an end to this, once for
all. [Goes to the door into the hall and calls.] Ellen!
NORA. What do you want?
HELMER. [Searching among his papers.] To settle the thing. [ELLEN
enters.] Here; take this letter; give it to a messenger. See that
he takes it at once. The address is on it. Here's the money.
ELLEN. Very well, sir.
[Goes with the letter.
HELMER. [Putting his papers together.] There, Madam Obstinacy.
NORA. [Breathless.] Torvald- what was in the letter?
HELMER. Krogstad's dismissal.
NORA. Call it back again, Torvald! There's still time. Oh, Torvald,
call it back again! For my sake, for your own, for the children's
sake! Do you hear, Torvald? Do it! You don't know what that
letter may bring upon us all.
HELMER. Too late.
NORA. Yes, too late.
HELMER. My dear Nora, I forgive your anxiety, though it's anything
but flattering to me. Why should you suppose that I would be
afraid of a wretched scribbler's spite? But I forgive you all the
same, for it's a proof of your great love for me. [Takes her in
his arms.] That's as it should be, my own dear Nora. Let what
will happen- when it comes to the pinch, I shall have strength
and courage enough. You shall see: my shoulders are broad enough
to bear the whole burden.
NORA. [Terror-struck.] What do you mean by that?
HELMER. The whole burden, I say-
NORA. [With decision.] That you shall never, never do!
HELMER. Very well; then we'll share it, Nora, as man and wife. That
is how it should be. [Petting her.] Are you satisfied now? Come,
come, come, don't look like a scared dove. It's all nothing-
foolish fancies.- Now you ought to play the tarantella through
and practise with the tambourine. I shall sit in my inner room
and shut both doors, so that I shall hear nothing. as much noise
as you please. [Turns round in doorway.] And when Rank comes,
just tell him where I'm to be found.
[He nods to her, and goes with his papers into his
room, closing the door.
NORA. [Bewildered with terror, stands as though rooted to the
ground, and whispers.] He would do it. Yes, he would do it. He
would do it, in spite of all the world.- No, never that, never,
never! Anything rather than that! Oh, for some way of escape!
What shall I do-! [Hall bell rings.] Doctor Rank-!- Anything,
anything, rather than-!
[NORA draws her hands over her face, pulls herself
together, goes to the door and opens it. RANK stands
outside hanging up his fur coat. During what follows
it begins to grow dark.
NORA. Good afternoon, Doctor Rank, I knew you by your ring. But you
mustn't go to Torvald now. I believe he's busy.
RANK. And you?
Enters and closes the door.
NORA. Oh, you know very well, I have always time for you.
RANK. Thank you. I shall avail myself of your kindness as long as I
NORA. What do you mean? As long as you can?
RANK. Yes. Does that frighten you?
NORA. I think it's an odd expression. Do you expect anything to
RANK. Something I have long been prepared for; but I didn't think
it would come so soon.
NORA. [Catching at his arm.] What have you discovered? Doctor Rank,
you must tell me!
RANK. [Sitting down by the stove.] I am running down hill. There's
no help for it.
NORA. [Draws a long breath of relief.] It's you-?
RANK. Who else should it be?- Why lie to one's self? I am the most
wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. In these last days I
have been auditing my life-account- bankrupt! Perhaps before a
month is over, I shall lie rotting in the church-yard.
NORA. Oh! What an ugly way to talk.
RANK. The thing itself is so confoundedly ugly, you see. But the
worst of it is, so many other ugly things have to be gone through
first. There is only one last investigation to be made, and when
that is over I shall know pretty certainly when the break-up will
begin. There's one thing I want to say to you: Helmer's delicate
nature shrinks so from all that is horrible: I will not have him
in my sick-room-
NORA. But, Doctor Rank-
RANK. I won't have him, I say- not on any account! I shall lock my
door against him.- As soon as I am quite certain of the worst, I
shall send you my visiting-card with a black cross on it; and
then you will know that the final horror has begun.
NORA. Why, you're perfectly unreasonable to-day; and I did so want
you to be in a really good humour.
RANK. With death staring me in the face?- And to suffer thus for
another's sin! Where's the justice of it? And in one way or
another you can trace in every family some such inexorable
NORA. [Stopping her ears.] Nonsense, nonsense! Now cheer up!
RANK. Well, after all, the whole thing's only worth laughing at. My
poor innocent spine must do penance for my father's wild oats.
NORA. [At table, left.] I suppose he was too fond of asparagus and
Strasbourg pate, wasn't he?
RANK. Yes; and truffles.
NORA. Yes, truffles, to be sure. And oysters, I believe?
RANK. Yes, oysters; oysters, of course.
NORA. And then all the port and champagne! It's sad that all these
good things should attack the spine.
RANK. Especially when the luckless spine attacked never had any
good of them.
NORA. Ah, yes, that's the worst of it.
RANK. [Looks at her searchingly.] H'm-
NORA. [A moment later.] Why did you smile?
RANK. No; it was you that laughed.
NORA. No; it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank.
RANK. [Standing up.] I see you're deeper than I thought.
NORA. I'm in such a crazy mood to-day.
RANK. So it seems.
NORA. [With her hands on his shoulders.] Dear, dear Doctor Rank,
death shall not take you away from Torvald and me.
RANK. Oh, you'll easily get over the loss. The absent are soon
NORA. [Looks at him anxiously.] Do you think so?
RANK. People make fresh ties, and then-
NORA. Who make fresh ties?
RANK. You and Helmer will,- when I am gone. You yourself are taking
time by the forelock, it seems to me. What was that Mrs. Linden
doing here yesterday?
NORA. Oh!- you're surely not jealous of poor Christina?
RANK. Yes, I am. She will be my successor in this house. When I am
out of the way, this woman will perhaps-
NORA. Hush! Not so loud! She's in there.
RANK. To-day as well? You see!
NORA. Only to put my costume in order- dear me, how unreasonable
you are! [Sits on sofa.] Now do be good, Doctor Rank! To-morrow
you shall see how beautifully I shall dance; and then you may
fancy that I'm doing it all to please you- and of course Torvald
as well. [Takes various things out of box.] Doctor Rank, sit down
here, and I'll show you something.
RANK. [Sitting.] What is it?
NORA. Look here. Look!
RANK. Silk stockings.
NORA. Flesh-coloured. Aren't they lovely? It's so dark here now;
but to-morrow- No, no, no; you must only look at the feet. Oh,
well, I suppose you may look at the rest too.
NORA. What are you looking so critical about? Do you think they
won't fit me?
RANK. I can't possibly give any competent opinion on that point.
NORA. Looking at him a moment.] For shame! [Hits him lightly on the
ear with the stockings.] Take that.
[Rolls them up again.
RANK. And what other wonders am I to see?
NORA. You sha'n't see anything more; for you don't behave nicely.
[She hums a little and searches among the things.
RANK. [After a short silence.] When I sit here gossiping with you,
I can't imagine- I simply cannot conceive- what would have become
of me if I had never entered this house.
NORA. [Smiling.] Yes, I think you do feel at home with us.
RANK. [More softly- looking straight before him.] And now to have
to leave it all-
NORA. Nonsense. You sha'n't leave us.
RANK. [In the same tone.] And not to be able to leave behind the
slightest token of gratitude; scarcely even a passing regret-
nothing but an empty place, that can be filled by the first
NORA. And if I were to ask you for-? No-
RANK. For what?
NORA. For a great proof of your friendship.
RANK. Yes- yes?
NORA. I mean- for a very, very great service-
RANK. Would you really, for once, make me so happy?
NORA. Oh, you don't know what it is.
RANK. Then tell me.
NORA. No, I really can't, Doctor Rank. It's far, far too much- not
only a service, but help and advice besides-
RANK. So much the better. I can't think what you can mean. But go
on. Don't you trust me?
NORA. As I trust no one else. I know you are my best and truest
friend. So I will tell you. Well then, Doctor Rank, there is
something you must help me to prevent. You know how deeply, how
wonderfully Torvald loves me; he wouldn't hesitate a moment to
give his very life for my sake.
RANK. [Bending towards her.] Nora- do you think he is the only one
NORA. [With a slight start.] Who-?
RANK. Who would gladly give his life for you?
NORA. [Sadly.] Oh!
RANK. I have sworn that you shall know it before I- go. I shall
never find a better opportunity.- Yes, Nora, now I have told you;
and now you know that you can trust me as you can no one else.
NORA. [Standing up; simply and calmly.] Let me pass, please.
RANK. [Makes way for her, but remains sitting.] Nora-
NORA. [In the doorway.] Ellen, bring the lamp. [Crosses to the
stove.] Oh dear, Doctor Rank, that was too bad of you.
RANK. [Rising.] That I have loved you as deeply as- any one else?
Was that too bad of me?
NORA. No, but that you should have told me so. It was so
RANK. What do you mean? Did you know-?
ELLEN enters with the lamp; sets it on the table
and goes out again.
RANK. Nora- Mrs. Helmer- I ask you, did you know?
NORA. Oh, how can I tell what I knew or didn't know? I really can't
say- How could you be so clumsy, Doctor Rank? It was all so nice!
RANK. Well, at any rate, you know now that I am at your service,
body and soul. And now, go on.
NORA. [Looking at him.] Go on- now?
RANK. I beg you to tell me what you want.
NORA. I can tell you nothing now.
RANK. Yes, yes! You mustn't punish me in that way. Let me do for
you whatever a man can.
NORA. You can do nothing for me now.- Besides, I really want no
help. You shall see it was only my fancy. Yes, it must be so. Of
course! [Sits in the rocking-chair, looks at him and smiles.] You
are a nice person, Doctor Rank! Aren't you ashamed of yourself,
now that the lamp is on the table?
RANK. No; not exactly. But perhaps I ought to go- for ever.
NORA. No, indeed you mustn't. Of course you must come and go as
you've always done. You know very well that Torvald can't do
RANK. Yes, but you?
NORA. Oh, you know I always like to have you here.
RANK. That is just what led me astray. You are a riddle to me. It
has often seemed to me as if you liked being with me almost as
much as being with Helmer.
NORA. Yes; don't you see? There are people one loves, and others
one likes to talk to.
RANK. Yes- there's something in that.
NORA. When I was a girl, of course I loved papa best. But it always
delighted me to steal into the servants' room. In the first place
they never lectured me, and in the second it was such fun to hear
RANK. Ah, I see; then it's their place I have taken?
NORA. [Jumps up and hurries towards him.] Oh, my dear Doctor Rank,
I don't mean that. But you understand, with Torvald it's the same
as with papa-
ELLEN enters from the hall.
ELLEN. Please, ma'am- [Whispers to NORA, and gives her a card.]
NORA. [Glancing at card.] Ah!
[Puts it in her pocket.
RANK. Anything wrong?
NORA. No, no, not in the least. It's only- it's my new costume-
RANK. Your costume! Why, it's there.
NORA. Oh, that one, yes. But this is another that- I have ordered
it- Torvald mustn't know-
RANK. Aha! So that's the great secret.
NORA. Yes, of course. Please go to him; he's in the inner room. Do
keep him while I-
RANK. Don't be alarmed; he sha'n't escape.
[RANK goes into HELMER's room.
NORA. [To ELLEN.] Is he waiting in the kitchen?
ELLEN. Yes, he came up the back stair-
NORA. Didn't you tell him I was engaged?
ELLEN. Yes, but it was no use.
NORA. He won't go away?
ELLEN. No, ma'am, not until he has spoken to you.
NORA. Then let him come in; but quietly. And, Ellen- say nothing
about it; it's a surprise for my husband.
ELLEN. Oh, yes, ma'am, I understand.
[She goes out.
NORA. It is coming! The dreadful thing is coming, after all. No,
no, no, it can never be; it shall not!
[She goes to HELMER'S door and slips the bolt. ELLEN
opens the hall door for KROGSTAD, and shuts it after
him. He wears a travelling-coat, high boots, and a fur
NORA. [Goes towards him.] Speak softly; my husband is at home.
KROGSTAD. All right. That's nothing to me.
NORA. What do you want?
KROGSTAD. A little information.
NORA. Be quick, then. What is it?
KROGSTAD. You know I have got my dismissal.
NORA. I couldn't prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought for you to the
last, but it was of no use.
KROGSTAD. Does your husband care for you so little? He knows what I
can bring upon you, and yet he dares-
NORA. How could you think I should tell him?
KROGSTAD. Well, as a matter of fact, I didn't think it. It wasn't
like my friend Torvald Helmer to show so much courage-
NORA. Mr. Krogstad, be good enough to speak respectfully of my
KROGSTAD. Certainly, with all due respect. But since you are so
anxious to keep the matter secret, I suppose you are a little
clearer than yesterday as to what you have done.
NORA. Clearer than you could ever make me.
KROGSTAD. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I-
NORA. What is it you want?
KROGSTAD. Only to see how you are getting on, Mrs. Helmer. I've
been thinking about you all day. Even a mere money-lender, a
gutter-journalist, a- in short, a creature like me- has a little
bit of what people call feeling.
NORA. Then show it; think of my little children.
KROGSTAD. Did you and your husband think of mine? But enough of
that. I only wanted to tell you that you needn't take this matter
too seriously. I shall not lodge any information, for the
NORA. No, surely not. I knew you wouldn't.
KROGSTAD. The whole thing can be settled quite amicably. Nobody
need know. It can remain among us three.
NORA. My husband must never know.
KROGSTAD. How can you prevent it? Can you pay off the balance?
NORA. No, not at once.
KROGSTAD. Or have you any means of raising the money in the next
NORA. None- that I will make use of.
KROGSTAD. And if you had, it would not help you now. If you offered
me ever so much money down, you should not get back your I.O.U.
NORA. Tell me what you want to do with it.
KROGSTAD. I only want to keep it- to have it in my possession. No
outsider shall hear anything of it. So, if you have any desperate
scheme in your head-
NORA. What if I have?
KROGSTAD. If you should think of leaving your husband and children-
NORA. What if I do?
KROGSTAD. Or if you should think of- something worse-
NORA. How do you know that?
KROGSTAD. Put all that out of your head.
NORA. How did you know what I had in my mind?
KROGSTAD. Most of us think of that at first. I thought of it, too;
but I hadn't the courage-
NORA. [Tonelessly.] Nor I.
KROGSTAD. [Relieved.] No, one hasn't. You haven't the courage
either, have you?
NORA. I haven't, I haven't.
KROGSTAD. Besides, it would be very foolish.- Just one domestic
storm, and it's all over. I have a letter in my pocket for your
NORA. Telling him everything?
KROGSTAD. Sparing you as much as possible.
NORA. [Quickly.] He must never read that letter. Tear it up. I will
manage to get the money somehow-
KROGSTAD. Pardon me, Mrs. Helmer, but I believe I told you-
NORA. Oh, I'm not talking about the money I owe you. Tell me how
much you demand from my husband- I will get it.
KROGSTAD. I demand no money from your husband.
NORA. What do you demand then?
KROGSTAD. I will tell you. I want to regain my footing in the
world. I want to rise; and your husband shall help me to do it.
For the last eighteen months my record has been spotless; I have
been in bitter need all the time; but I was content to fight my
way up, step by step. Now, I've been thrust down again, and I
will not be satisfied with merely being reinstated as a matter of
grace. I want to rise, I tell you. I must get into the Bank
again, in a higher position than before. Your husband shall
create a place on purpose for me-.
NORA. He will never do that!
KROGSTAD. He will do it; I know him- he won't dare to show fight!
And when he and I are together there, you shall soon see! Before
a year is out I shall be the manager's right hand. It won't be
Torvald Helmer, but Nils Krogstad, that manages the Joint Stock
NORA. That shall never be.
KROGSTAD. Perhaps you will-?
NORA. Now I have the courage for it.
KROGSTAD. Oh, you don't frighten me! A sensitive, petted creature
NORA. You shall see, you shall see!
KROGSTAD. Under the ice, perhaps? Down into the cold, black water?
And next spring to come up again, ugly, hairless, unrecognisable-
NORA. You can't terrify me.
KROGSTAD. Nor you me. People don't do that sort of thing, Mrs.
Helmer. And, after all, what would be the use of it? I have your
husband in my pocket, all the same.
NORA. Afterwards? When I am no longer-?
KROGSTAD. You forget, your reputation remains in my hands! [NORA
stands speechless and looks at him.] Well, now you are prepared.
Do nothing foolish. As soon as Helmer has received my letter, I
shall expect to hear from him. And remember that it is your
husband himself who has forced me back again into such paths.
That I will never forgive him. Good-bye, Mrs. Helmer.
[Goes out through the hall. NORA hurries to the door,
opens it a little, and listens.
NORA. He's going. He's not putting the letter into the box. No, no,
it would be impossible! [Opens the door further and further.]
What's that. He's standing still; not going downstairs. Has he
changed his mind? Is he-? [A letter falls into the box.
KROGSTAD's footsteps are heard gradually receding down the stair.
NORA utters a suppressed shriek, and rushes forward towards the
sofa-table; pause.] In the letter-box! [Slips shrinkingly up to
the hall door.] There it lies.- Torvald, Torvald- now we are
MRS. LINDEN enters from the left with the costume.
MRS. LINDEN. There, I think it's all right now. Shall we just try
NORA. [Hoarsely and softly.] Christina, come here.
MRS. LINDEN. [Throws down the dress on the sofa.] What's the
matter? You look quite distracted.
NORA. Come here. Do you see that letter? There, see- through the
glass of the letter-box.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes, I see it.
NORA. That letter is from Krogstad-
MRS. LINDEN. Nora- it was Krogstad who lent you the money?
NORA. Yes; and now Torvald will know everything.
MRS. LINDEN. Believe me, Nora, it's the best thing for both of you.
NORA. You don't know all yet. I have forged a name-
MRS. LINDEN. Good heavens!
NORA. Now, listen to me, Christina; you shall bear me witness-
MRS. LINDEN. How "witness"? What am I to-?
NORA. If I should go out of my mind- it might easily happen-
MRS. LINDEN. Nora!
NORA. Or if anything else should happen to me- so that I couldn't
MRS. LINDEN. Nora, Nora, you're quite beside yourself!
NORA. In case any one wanted to take it all upon himself- the whole
blame- you understand-
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, yes; but how can you think-?
NORA. You shall bear witness that it's not true, Christina. I'm not
out of my mind at all; I know quite well what I'm saying; and I
tell you nobody else knew anything about it; I did the whole
thing, I myself. Remember that.
MRS. LINDEN. I shall remember. But I don't understand what you
NORA. Oh, how should you? It's the miracle coming to pass.
MRS. LINDEN. The miracle?
NORA. Yes, the miracle. But it's so terrible, Christina; it mustn't
happen for all the world.
MRS. LINDEN. I shall go straight to Krogstad and talk to him.
NORA. Don't; he'll do you some harm.
MRS. LINDEN. Once he would have done anything for me.
MRS. LINDEN. Where does he live?
NORA. Oh, how can I tell-? Yes- [Feels in her pocket.] Here's his
card. But the letter, the letter-!
HELMER. [Knocking outside.] Nora!
NORA. [Shrieks in terror.] Oh, what is it? What do you want?
HELMER. Well, well, don't be frightened. We're not coming in;
you've bolted the door. Are you trying on your dress?
NORA. Yes, yes, I'm trying it on. It suits me so well, Torvald.
MRS. LINDEN. [Who has read the card.] Why, he lives close by here.
NORA. Yes, but it's no use now. We are lost. The letter is there in
MRS. LINDEN. And your husband has the key?
MRS. LINDEN. Krogstad must demand his letter back, unread. He must
find some pretext-
NORA. But this is the very time when Torvald generally-
MRS. LINDEN. Prevent him. Keep him occupied. I shall come back as
quickly as I can.
[She goes out hastily by the hall door.
NORA. [Opens HELMER'S door and peeps in.] Torvald!
HELMER. Well, may one come into one's own room again at last? Come,
Rank, we'll have a look- [In the doorway.] But how's this?
NORA. What, Torvald dear?
HELMER. Rank led me to expect a grand transformation.
RANK. [In the doorway.] So I understood. I suppose I was mistaken.
NORA. No, no one shall see me in my glory till to-morrow evening.
HELMER. Why, Nora dear, you look so tired. Have you been practising
NORA. No, I haven't practised at all yet.
HELMER. But you'll have to-
NORA. Oh yes, I must, I must! But, Torvald, I can't get on at all
without your help. I've forgotten everything.
HELMER. Oh, we shall soon freshen it up again.
NORA. Yes, do help me, Torvald. You must promise me- Oh, I'm so
nervous about it. Before so many people- This evening you must
give yourself up entirely to me. You mustn't do a stroke of work;
you mustn't even touch a pen. Do promise, Torvald dear!
HELMER. I promise. All this evening I shall be your slave. Little
helpless thing-! But, by-the-bye, I must just-
[Going to hall door.
NORA. What do you want there?
HELMER. Only to see if there are any letters.
NORA. No, no, don't do that, Torvald.
HELMER. Why not?
NORA. Torvald, I beg you not to. There are none there.
HELMER. Let me just see. [Is going.
[NORA, at the piano, plays the first bars of the
HELMER. [At the door, stops.] Aha!
NORA. I can't dance to-morrow if I don't rehearse with you first.
HELMER. [Going to her.] Are you really so nervous, dear Nora?
NORA. Yes, dreadfully! Let me rehearse at once. We have time before
dinner. Oh, do sit down and play for me, Torvald dear; direct me
and put me right, as you used to do.
HELMER. With all the pleasure in life, since you wish it.
[Sits at piano.
[NORA snatches the tambourine out of he box, and
hurriedly drapes herself in a long parti-coloured
shawl; then, with a bound, stands in the middle of the
NORA. Now play for me! Now I'll dance!
[HELMER plays and NORA dances. RANK stands at the piano
behind HELMER and looks on.
HELMER. [Playing.] Slower! Slower!
NORA. Can't do it slower!
HELMER. Not so violently, Nora.
NORA. I must! I must!
HELMER. [Stops.] No, no, Nora- that will never do.
NORA. [Laughs and swings her tambourine.] Didn't I tell you so!
RANK. Let me play for her.
HELMER. [Rising.] Yes, do- then I can direct her better.
[RANK sits down to the piano and plays; NORA dances
more and more wildly. HELMER stands by the stove and
addresses frequent corrections to her; she seems not
to hear. Her hair breaks loose, and falls over her
shoulders. She does not notice it, but goes on
dancing. MRS. LINDEN enters and stands spellbound
in the doorway.
MRS. LINDEN. Ah-!
NORA. [Dancing.] We're having such fun here, Christina!
HELMER. Why, Nora dear, you're dancing as if it were a matter of
life and death.
NORA. So it is.
HELMER. Rank, stop! This is the merest madness. Stop, I say!
[RANK stops playing, and NORA comes to a sudden
HELMER. [Going towards her.] I couldn't have believed it. You've
positively forgotten all I taught you.
NORA. [Throws the tambourine away.] You see for yourself.
HELMER. You really do want teaching.
NORA. Yes, you see how much I need it. You must practise with me up
to the last moment. Will you promise me, Torvald?
HELMER. Certainly, certainly.
NORA. Neither to-day nor to-morrow must you think of anything but
me. You mustn't open a single letter- mustn't look at the letter-
HELMER. Ah, you're still afraid of that man-
NORA. Oh yes, yes, I am.
HELMER. Nora, I can see it in your face- there's a letter from him
in the box.
NORA. I don't know, I believe so. But you're not to read anything
now; nothing ugly must come between us until all is over.
RANK. [Softly, to HELMER.] You mustn't contradict her.
HELMER. [Putting his arm around her.] The child shall have her own
way. But to-morrow night, when the dance is over-
NORA. Then you shall be free.
ELLEN appears in the doorway, right.
ELLEN. Dinner is on the table, ma'am.
NORA. We'll have some champagne, Ellen.
ELLEN. Yes, ma'am. [Goes out.
HELMER. Dear me! Quite a banquet.
NORA. Yes, and we'll keep it up till morning. [Calling out.] And
macaroons, Ellen- plenty- just this once.
HELMER. [Seizing her hand.] Come, come, don't let us have this wild
excitement! Be my own little lark again.
NORA. Oh yes, I will. But now go into the dining-room; and you too,
Doctor Rank. Christina, you must help me to do up my hair.
RANK. [Softly, as they go.] There's nothing in the wind? Nothing- I
HELMER. Oh no, nothing of the kind. It's merely this babyish
anxiety I was telling you about.
[They go out to the right.
MRS. LINDEN. He's gone out of town.
NORA. I saw it in your face.
MRS. LINDEN. He comes back to-morrow evening. I left a note for
NORA. You shouldn't have done that. Things must take their course.
After all, there's something glorious in waiting for the miracle.
MRS. LINDEN. What is it you're waiting for?
NORA. Oh, you can't understand. Go to them in the dining-room; I
shall come in a moment.
[MRS. LINDEN goes into the dining-room. NORA stands
for a moment as though collecting her thoughts;
then looks at her watch.
NORA. Seven hours till midnight. Then twenty-four hours till the
next midnight. Then the tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and
seven? Thirty-one hours to live.
HELMER appears at the door, right.
HELMER. What has become of my little lark?
NORA. [Runs to him with open arms.] Here she is!
The same room. The table, with the chairs around it, in the middle.
A lighted lamp on the table. The door to the hall stands open. Dance
music is heard from the floor above.
MRS. LINDEN sits by the table and absently turns the pages of a
book. She tries to read, but seems unable to fix her attention; she
frequently listens and looks anxiously towards the hall door.
MRS. LINDEN. [Looks at her watch.] Not here yet; and the time is
nearly up. If only he hasn't- [Listens again.] Ah, there he is.
[She goes into the hall and cautiously opens the outer door; soft
footsteps are heard on the stairs; she whispers.] Come in; there
is no one here.
KROGSTAD. [In the doorway.] I found a note from you at my house.
What does it mean?
MRS. LINDEN. I must speak to you.
KROGSTAD. Indeed? And in this house?
MRS. LINDEN. I could not see you at my rooms. They have no separate
entrance. Come in; we are quite alone. The servants are asleep,
and the Helmers are at the ball upstairs.
KROGSTAD. [Coming into the room.] Ah! So the Helmers are dancing
this evening? Really?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes. Why not?
KROGSTAD. Quite right. Why not?
MRS. LINDEN. And now let us talk a little.
KROGSTAD. Have we two anything to say to each other?
MRS. LINDEN. A great deal.
KROGSTAD. I should not have thought so.
MRS. LINDEN. Because you have never really understood me.
KROGSTAD. What was there to understand? The most natural thing in
the world- a heartless woman throws a man over when a better
MRS. LINDEN. Do you really think me so heartless? Do you think I
broke with you lightly?
KROGSTAD. Did you not?
MRS. LINDEN. Do you really think so?
KROGSTAD. If not, why did you write me that letter?
MRS. LINDEN. Was it not best? Since I had to break with you, was it
not right that I should try to put an end to all that you felt
KROGSTAD. [Clenching his hands together.] So that was it? And all
this- for the sake of money!
MRS. LINDEN. You ought not to forget that I had a helpless mother
and two little brothers. We could not wait for you, Nils, as your
prospects then stood.
KROGSTAD. Perhaps not; but you had no right to cast me off for the
sake of others, whoever the others might be.
MRS. LINDEN. I don't know. I have often asked myself whether I had
KROGSTAD. [More softly.] When I had lost you, I seemed to have no
firm ground left under my feet. Look at me now. I am a
shipwrecked man clinging to a spar.
MRS. LINDEN. Rescue may be at hand.
KROGSTAD. It was at hand; but then you came and stood in the way.
MRS. LINDEN. Without my knowledge, Nils. I did not know till today
that it was you I was to replace in the Bank.
KROGSTAD. Well, I take your word for it. But now that you do know,
do you mean to give way?
MRS. LINDEN. No, for that would not help you in the least.
KROGSTAD. Oh, help, help-! I should do it whether or no.
MRS. LINDEN. I have learnt prudence. Life and bitter necessity have
KROGSTAD. And life has taught me not to trust fine speeches.
MRS. LINDEN. Then life has taught you a very sensible thing. But
deeds you will trust?
KROGSTAD. What do you mean?
MRS. LINDEN. You said you were a shipwrecked man, clinging to a
KROGSTAD. I have good reason to say so.
MRS. LINDEN. I too am shipwrecked, and clinging to a spar. I have
no one to mourn for, no one to care for.
KROGSTAD. You made your own choice.
MRS. LINDEN. No choice was left me.
KROGSTAD. Well, what then?
MRS. LINDEN. Nils, how if we two shipwrecked people could join
MRS. LINDEN. Two on a raft have a better chance than if each clings
to a separate spar.
MRS. LINDEN. What do you think brought me to town?
KROGSTAD. Had you any thought of me?
MRS. LINDEN. I must have work or I can't bear to live. All my life,
as long as I can remember, I have worked; work has been my one
great joy. Now I stand quite alone in the world, aimless and
forlorn. There is no happiness in working for one's self. Nils,
give me somebody and something to work for.
KROGSTAD. I cannot believe in all this. It is simply a woman's
romantic craving for self-sacrifice.
MRS. LINDEN. Have you ever found me romantic?
KROGSTAD. Would you really-? Tell me: do you know all my past?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes.
KROGSTAD. And do you know what people say of me?
MRS. LINDEN. Did you not say just now that with me you could have
been another man?
KROGSTAD. I am sure of it.
MRS. LINDEN. Is it too late?
KROGSTAD. Christina, do you know what you are doing? Yes, you do; I
see it in your face. Have you the courage then-?
MRS. LINDEN. I need some one to be a mother to, and your children
need a mother. You need me, and I- I need you. Nils, I believe in
your better self. With you I fear nothing.
KROGSTAD. [Seizing her hands.] Thank you- thank you, Christina. Now
I shall make others see me as you do.- Ah, I forgot-
MRS. LINDEN. [Listening.] Hush! The tarantella! Go! go!
KROGSTAD. Why? What is it?
MRS. LINDEN. Don't you hear the dancing overhead? As soon as that
is over they will be here.
KROGSTAD. Oh yes, I shall go. Nothing will come of this, after all.
Of course, you don't know the step I have taken against the
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, Nils, I do know.
KROGSTAD. And yet you have the courage to-?
MRS. LINDEN. I know to what lengths despair can drive a man.
KROGSTAD. Oh, if I could only undo it!
MRS. LINDEN. You could. Your letter is still in the box.
KROGSTAD. Are you sure?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; but-
KROGSTAD. [Looking to her searchingly.] Is that what it all means?
You want to save your friend at any price. Say it out- is that
MRS. LINDEN. Nils, a woman who has once sold herself for the sake
of others, does not do so again.
KROGSTAD. I shall demand my letter back again.
MRS. LINDEN. No, no.
KROGSTAD. Yes, of course. I shall wait till Helmer comes; I shall
tell him to give it back to me- that it's only about my
dismissal- that I don't want it read-
MRS. LINDEN. No, Nils, you must not recall the letter.
KROGSTAD. But tell me, wasn't that just why you got me to come
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, in my first alarm. But a day has passed since
then, and in that day I have seen incredible things in this
house. Helmer must know everything; there must be an end to this
unhappy secret. These two must come to a full understanding. They
must have done with all these shifts and subterfuges.
KROGSTAD. Very well, if you like to risk it. But one thing I can
do, and at once-
MRS. LINDEN. [Listening.] Make haste! Go, go! The dance is over;
we're not safe another moment.
KROGSTAD. I shall wait for you in the street.
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, do; you must see me home.
KROGSTAD. I never was so happy in all my life!
[KROGSTAD goes out by the outer door. The door between
the room and the hall remains open.
MRS. LINDEN. [Arranging the room and getting her outdoor things
together.] What a change! What a change! To have some one to work
for, to live for; a home to make happy! Well, it shall not be my
fault if I fail.- I wish they would come.- [Listens.] Ah, here
they are! I must get my things on.
[Takes bonnet and cloak. HELMER'S and NORA'S voices are
heard outside, a key is turned in the lock, and HELMER
drags NORA almost by force into the hall. She wears
the Italian costume with a large black shawl over it.
He is in evening dress and wears a black domino, open.
NORA. [Struggling with him in the doorway.] No, no, no! I won't go
in! I want to go upstairs again; I don't want to leave so early!
HELMER. But, my dearest girl-!
NORA. Oh, please, please, Torvald, I beseech you- only one hour
HELMER. Not one minute more, Nora dear; you know what we agreed.
Come, come in; you're catching cold here.
[He leads her gently into the room in spite of her
MRS. LINDEN. Good-evening.
HELMER. What, Mrs. Linden! You here so late?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, I ought to apologise. I did so want to see Nora
in her costume.
NORA. Have you been sitting here waiting for me?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; unfortunately I came too late. You had gone
upstairs already, and I felt I couldn't go away without seeing
HELMER. [Taking Nora's shawl off.] Well then, just look at her! I
assure you she's worth it. isn't she lovely, Mrs. Linden?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, I must say-
HELMER. Isn't she exquisite? Every one said so. But she's
dreadfully obstinate, dear little creature. What's to be done
with her? Just think, I had almost to force her away.
NORA. Oh, Torvald, you'll be sorry some day that you didn't let me
stay, if only for one half-hour more.
HELMER. There! You hear her, Mrs. Linden? She dances her tarantella
with wild applause, and well she deserved it, I must say- though
there was, perhaps, a little too much nature in her rendering of
the idea- more than was, strictly speaking, artistic. But never
mind- the point is, she made a great success, a tremendous
success. Was I to let her remain after that- to weaken the
impression? Not if I know it. I took my sweet little Capri girl-
my capricious little Capri girl, I might say- under my arm; a
rapid turn round the room, a curtsey to all sides, and- as they
say in novels- the lovely apparition vanished! An exit should
always be effective, Mrs. Linden; but I can't get Nora to see it.
By Jove! it's warm here. [Throws his domino on a chair and opens
the door to his room.] What! No light there? Oh, of course.
[Goes in and lights candle.
NORA. [Whispers breathlessly.] Well?
MRS. LINDEN. [Softly.] I've spoken to him.
MRS. LINDEN. Nora- you must tell your husband everything-
NORA. [Tonelessly.] I knew it!
MRS. LINDEN. You have nothing to fear from Krogstad; but you must
NORA. I shall not speak!
MRS. LINDEN. Then the letter will.
NORA. Thank you, Christina. Now I know what I have to do. Hush-!
HELMER. [Coming back.] Well, Mrs. Linden, have you admired her?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes; and now I must say good-night.
HELMER. What, already? Does this knitting belong to you?
MRS. LINDEN. [Takes it.] Yes, thanks; I was nearly forgetting it.
HELMER. Then you do knit?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes.
HELMER. Do you know, you ought to embroider instead?
MRS. LINDEN. Indeed! Why?
HELMER. Because it's so much prettier. Look now! You hold the
embroidery in the left hand, so, and then work the needle with
the right hand, in a long, graceful curve- don't you?
MRS. LINDEN. Yes, I suppose so.
HELMER. But knitting is always ugly. Just look- your arms close to
your sides, and the needles going up and down- there's something
Chinese about it.- They really gave us splendid champagne
MRS. LINDEN. Well, good-night, Nora, and don't be obstinate any
HELMER. Well said, Mrs. Linden!
MRS. LINDEN. Good-night, Mr. Helmer.
HELMER. [Accompanying her to the door.] Good-night, good-night; I
hope you'll get safely home. I should be glad to- but you have
such a short way to go. Good-night, good-night. [She goes; HELMER
shuts the door after her and comes forward again.] At last we've
got rid of her: she's a terrible bore.
NORA. Aren't you very tired, Torvald?
HELMER. No, not in the least.
NORA. Nor sleepy?
HELMER. Not a bit. I feel particularly lively. But you? You do look
tired and sleepy.
NORA. Yes, very tired. I shall soon sleep now.
HELMER. There, you see. I was right after all not to let you stay
NORA. Oh, everything you do is right.
HELMER. [Kissing her forehead.] Now my lark is speaking like a
reasonable being. Did you notice how jolly Rank was this evening?
NORA. Indeed? Was he? I had no chance of speaking to him.
HELMER. Nor I, much; but, I haven't seen him in such good spirits
for a long time. [Looks at NORA a little, then comes nearer her.]
It's splendid to be back in our own home, to be quite alone
together!- Oh, you enchanting creature!
NORA. Don't look at me in that way, Torvald.
HELMER. I am not to look at my dearest treasure?- at all the
loveliness that is mine, mine only, wholly and entirely mine?
NORA. [Goes to the other side of the table.] You mustn't say these
things to me this evening.
HELMER. [Following.] I see you have the tarantella still in your
blood- and that makes you all the more enticing. Listen! the
other people are going now. [More softly.] Nora- soon the whole
house will be still.
NORA. Yes, I hope so.
HELMER. Yes, don't you, Nora darling? When we are among strangers,
do you know why I speak so little to you, and keep so far away,
and only steal a glance at you now and then- do you know why I do
it? Because I am fancying that we love each other in secret, that
I am secretly betrothed to you, and that no one dreams that there
is anything between us.
NORA. Yes, yes, yes. I know all your thoughts are with me.
HELMER. And then, when the time comes to go, and I put the shawl
about your smooth, soft shoulders, and this glorious neck of
yours, I imagine you are my bride, that our marriage is just
over, that I am bringing you for the first time to my home- that
I am alone with you for the first time- quite alone with you, in
your trembling loveliness! All this evening I have been longing
for you, and you only. When I watched you swaying and whirling in
the tarantella- my blood boiled- I could endure it no longer; and
that's why I made you come home with me so early-
NORA. Go now, Torvald! Go away from me. I won't have all this.
HELMER. What do you mean? Ah, I see you're teasing me, little Nora!
Won't- won't! Am I not your husband-?
[A knock at the outer door.
NORA. [Starts.] Did you hear-?
HELMER. [Going towards the hall.] Who's there?
RANK. [Outside.] It is I; may I come in for a moment?
HELMER. [In a low tone, annoyed.] Oh, what can he want just now?
[Aloud.] Wait a moment. [Opens door.] Come, it's nice of you to
RANK. I thought I heard your voice, and that put it into my head.
[Looks round.] Ah, this dear old place! How cosy you two are
HELMER. You seemed to find it pleasant enough upstairs, too.
RANK. Exceedingly. Why not? Why shouldn't one take one's share of
everything in this world? All one can, at least, and as long as
one can. The wine was splendid-
HELMER. Especially the champagne.
RANK. Did you notice it? It's incredible the quantity I contrived
to get down.
NORA. Torvald drank plenty of champagne, too.
RANK. Did he?
NORA. Yes, and it always puts him in such spirits.
RANK. Well, why shouldn't one have a jolly evening after a
HELMER. Well-spent! Well, I haven't much to boast of in that
RANK. [Slapping him on the shoulder.] But I have, don't you see?
NORA. I suppose you have been engaged in a scientific
investigation, Doctor Rank?
RANK. Quite right.
HELMER. Bless me! Little Nora talking about scientific
NORA. Am I to congratulate you on the result?
RANK. By all means.
NORA. It was good then?
RANK. The best possible, both for doctor and patient- certainty.
NORA. [Quickly and searchingly.] Certainty?
RANK. Absolute certainty. Wasn't I right to enjoy myself after
NORA. Yes, quite right, Doctor Rank.
HELMER. And so say I, provided you don't have to pay for it
RANK. Well, in this life nothing is to be had for nothing.
NORA. Doctor Rank- I'm sure you are very fond of masquerades?
RANK. Yes, when there are plenty of amusing disguises-
NORA. Tell me, what shall we two be at our next masquerade?
HELMER. Little featherbrain! Thinking of your next already!
RANK. We two? I'll tell you. You must go as a good fairy.
HELMER. Ah, but what costume would indicate that?
RANK. She has simply to wear her everyday dress.
HELMER. Capital! But don't you know what you will be yourself?
RANK. Yes, my dear friend, I am perfectly clear upon that point.
RANK. At the next masquerade I shall be invisible.
HELMER. What a comical idea!
RANK. There's a big black hat- haven't you heard of the invisible
hat? It comes down all over you, and then no one can see you.
HELMER. [With a supressed smile.] No, you're right there.
RANK. But I'm quite forgetting what I came for. Helmer, give me a
cigar- one of the dark Havanas.
HELMER. With the greatest pleasure.
RANK. [Takes one and cuts the end off.] Thank you.
NORA. [Striking a wax match.] Let me give you a light.
RANK. A thousand thanks.
[She holds the match. He lights his cigar at it.
RANK. And now, good-bye!
HELMER. Good-bye, good-bye, my dear fellow.
NORA. Sleep well, Doctor Rank.
RANK. Thanks for the wish.
NORA. Wish me the same.
RANK. You? Very well, since you ask me- Sleep well. And thanks for
[He nods to them both and goes out.
HELMER. [In an undertone.] He's been drinking a good deal.
NORA. [Absently.] I daresay. [HELMER takes his bunch of keys from
his pocket and goes into the hall.] Torvald, what are you doing
HELMER. I must empty the letter-box; it's quite full; there will be
no room for the newspapers to-morrow morning.
NORA. Are you going to work to-night?
HELMER. You know very well I am not.- Why, how is this? Some one
has been at the lock.
NORA. The lock-?
HELMER. I'm sure of it. What does it mean? I can't think that the
servants-? Here's a broken hair-pin. Nora, it's one of yours.
NORA. [Quickly.] It must have been the children-
HELMER. Then you must break them of such tricks.- There! At last
I've got it open. [Takes contents out and calls into the
kitchen.] Ellen!- Ellen, just put the hall door lamp out.
[He returns with letters in his hand, and shuts the
HELMER. Just see how they've accumulated. [Turning them over.] Why,
NORA. [At the window.] The letter! Oh no, no, Torvald!
HELMER. Two visiting-cards- from Rank.
NORA. From Doctor Rank?
HELMER. [Looking at them.] Doctor Rank. They were on the top. He
must just have put them in.
NORA. Is there anything on them?
HELMER. There's a black cross over the name. Look at it. What an
unpleasant idea! It looks just as if he were announcing his own
NORA. So he is.
HELMER. What! Do you know anything? Has he told you anything?
NORA. Yes. These cards mean that he has taken his last leave of us.
He is going to shut himself up and die.
HELMER. Poor fellow! Of course I knew we couldn't hope to keep him
long. But so soon-! And to go and creep into his lair like a
NORA. When we must go, it is best to go silently. Don't you think
HELMER. [Walking up and down.] He had so grown into our lives,
I can't realise that he is gone. He and his sufferings and his
loneliness formed a sort of cloudy background to the sunshine of
our happiness.- Well, perhaps it's best as it is- at any rate for
him. [Stands still.] And perhaps for us too, Nora. Now we two are
thrown entirely upon each other. [Takes her in his arms.] My
darling wife! I feel as if I could never hold you close enough.
Do you know, Nora, I often wish some danger might threaten you,
that I might risk body and soul, and everything, everything, for
your dear sake.
NORA. [Tears herself from him and says firmly.] Now you shall read
your letters, Torvald.
HELMER. No, no; not to-night. I want to be with you, my sweet wife.
NORA. With the thought of your dying friend-?
HELMER. You are right. This has shaken us both. Unloveliness has
come between us- thoughts of death and decay. We must seek to
cast them off. Till then- we will remain apart.
NORA. [Her arms round his neck.] Torvald! Good-night! good-night!
HELMER. [Kissing her forehead.] Good-night, my little song-bird.
Sleep well, Nora. Now I shall go and read my letters.
[He goes with the letters in his hand into his room
and shuts the door.
NORA. [With wild eyes, gropes about her, seizes HELMER'S domino,
throws it round her, and whispers quickly, hoarsely,
and brokenly.] Never to see him again. Never, never, never.
[Throws her shawl over her head.] Never to see the children
again. Never, never.- Oh that black, icy water! Oh that
bottomless-! If it were only over! Now he has it; he's reading
it. Oh, no, no, no, not yet. Torvald, good-bye-! Good-bye, my
[She is rushing out by the hall; at the same moment
HELMER flings his door open, and stands there with
an open letter in his hand.
NORA. [Shrieks.] Ah-!
HELMER. What is this? Do you know what is in this letter?
NORA. Yes, I know. Let me go! Let me pass!
HELMER. [Holds her back.] Where do you want to go?
NORA. [Tries to break away from him.] You shall not save me,
HELMER. [Falling back.] True! Is what he writes true? No, no, it is
impossible that this can be true.
NORA. It is true. I have loved you beyond all else in the world.
HELMER. Pshaw- no silly evasions!
NORA. [A step nearer him.] Torvald-!
HELMER. Wretched woman- what have you done!
NORA. Let me go- you shall not save me! You shall not take my guilt
HELMER. I don't want any melodramatic airs. [Locks the outer door.]
Here you shall stay and give an account of yourself. Do you
understand what you have done? Answer! Do you understand it?
NORA. [Looks at him fixedly, and says with a stiffening
expression.] Yes; now I begin fully to understand it.
HELMER. [Walking up and down.] Oh! what an awful awakening! During
all these eight years- she who was my pride and my joy- a
hypocrite, a liar- worse, worse- a criminal. Oh, the unfathomable
hideousness of it all! Ugh! Ugh!
[NORA says nothing, and continues to look fixedly at
HELMER. I ought to have known how it would be. I ought to have
foreseen it. All your father's want of principle- be silent!- all
your father's want of principle you have inherited- no religion,
no morality, no sense of duty. How I am punished for screening
him! I did it for your sake; and you reward me like this.
NORA. Yes- like this.
HELMER. You have destroyed my whole happiness. You have ruined my
future. Oh, it's frightful to think of! I am in the power of a
scoundrel; he can do whatever he pleases with me, demand whatever
he chooses; he can domineer over me as much as he likes, and I
must submit. And all this disaster and ruin is brought upon me by
an unprincipled woman!
NORA. When I am out of the world, you will be free.
HELMER. Oh, no fine phrases. Your father, too, was always ready
with them. What good would it do me, if you were "out of the
world," as you say? No good whatever! He can publish the story
all the same; I might even be suspected of collusion. People will
think I was at the bottom of it all and egged you on. And for all
this I have you to thank- you whom I have done nothing but pet
and spoil during our whole married life. Do you understand now
what you have done to me?
NORA. [With cold calmness.] Yes.
HELMER. The thing is so incredible, I can't grasp it. But we must
come to an understanding. Take that shawl off. Take it off, I
say! I must try to pacify him in one way or another- the matter
must be hushed up, cost what it may.- As for you and me, we must
make no outward change in our way of life- no outward change, you
understand. Of course, you will continue to live here. But the
children cannot be left in your care. I dare not trust them to
you.- Oh, to have to say this to one I have loved so tenderly-
whom I still-! But that must be a thing of the past. Henceforward
there can be no question of happiness, but merely of saving the
ruins, the shreds, the show- [A ring; HELMER starts.] What's
that? So late! Can it be the worst? Can he-? Hide yourself, Nora;
say you are ill.
[NORA stands motionless. HELMER goes to the door and
ELLEN. [Half dressed, in the hall.] Here is a letter for you,
HELMER. Give it to me. [Seizes the letter and shuts the door.] Yes,
from him. You shall not have it. I shall read it.
NORA. Read it?
HELMER. [By the lamp.] I have hardly the courage to. We may both be
lost, both you and I. Ah! I must know. [Hastily tears the letter
open; reads a few lines, looks at an enclosure; with a cry of
[Nora looks inquiringly at him.
HELMER. Nora!- Oh! I must read it again.- Yes, yes, it is so. I am
saved! Nora, I am saved!
NORA. And I?
HELMER. You too, of course; we are both saved, both of us. Look
here- he sends you back your promissory note. He writes that he
regrets and apologises, that a happy turn in his life- Oh, what
matter what he writes. We are saved, Nora! No one can harm you.
Oh, Nora, Nora-; but first to get rid of this hateful thing. I'll
just see- [Glances at the I.O.U.] No, I will not look at it; the
whole thing shall be nothing but a dream to me. [Tears the I.O.U.
and both letters in pieces. Throws them into the fire and watches
them burn.] There! it's gone!- He said that ever since Christmas
Eve- Oh, Nora, they must have been three terrible days for you!
NORA. I have fought a hard fight for the last three days.
HELMER. And in your agony you saw no other outlet but- No; we won't
think of that horror. We will only rejoice and repeat- it's over,
all over! Don't you hear, Nora? You don't seem able to grasp it.
Yes, it's over. What is this set look on your face? Oh, my poor
Nora, I understand; you cannot believe that I have forgiven you.
But I have, Nora; I swear it. I have forgiven everything. I know
that what you did was all for love of me.
NORA. That is true.
HELMER. You loved me as a wife should love her husband. It was only
the means that, in your inexperience, you misjudged. But do you
think I love you the less because you cannot do without guidance?
No, no. Only lean on me; I will counsel you, and guide you. I
should be no true man if this very womanly helplessness did not
make you doubly dear in my eyes. You mustn't dwell upon the hard
things I said in my first moment of terror, when the world seemed
to be tumbling about my ears. I have forgiven you, Nora- I swear
I have forgiven you.
NORA. I thank you for your forgiveness.
[Goes out, to the right.
HELMER. No, stay-! [Looking through the doorway.] What are you
going to do?
NORA. [Inside.] To take off my masquerade dress.
HELMER. [In the doorway.] Yes, do, dear. Try to calm down, and
recover your balance, my scared little song-bird. You may rest
secure. I have broad wings to shield you. [Walking up and down
near the door.] Oh, how lovely- how cosy our home is, Nora! Here
you are safe; here I can shelter you like a hunted dove whom I
have saved from the claws of the hawk. I shall soon bring your
poor beating heart to rest; believe me, Nora, very soon.
To-morrow all this will seem quite different- everything will
be as before. I shall not need to tell you again that I forgive
you; you will feel for yourself that it is true. How could you
think I could find it in my heart to drive you away, or even so
much as to reproach you? Oh, you don't know a true man's heart,
Nora. There is something indescribably sweet and soothing to a
man in having forgiven his wife- honestly forgiven her, from the
bottom of his heart. She becomes his property in a double sense.
She is as though born again; she has become, so to speak, at once
his wife and his child. That is what you shall henceforth be to
me, my bewildered, helpless darling. Don't be troubled about
anything, Nora; only open your heart to me, and I will be both
will and conscience to you. [NORA enters in everyday dress.] Why,
what's this? Not gone to bed You have changed your dress?
NORA. Yes, Torvald; now I have changed my dress.
HELMER. But why now, so late-?
NORA. I shall not sleep to-night.
HELMER. But, Nora dear-
NORA. [Looking at her watch.] It's not so late yet. Sit down,
Torvald; you and I have much to say to each other.
[She sits at one side of the table.
HELMER. Nora- what does this mean? Your cold, set face-
NORA. Sit down. It will take some time. I have much to talk over
[HELMER sits at the other side of the table.
HELMER. You alarm me, Nora. I don't understand you.
NORA. No, that is just it. You don't understand me; and I have
never understood you- till to-night. No, don't interrupt. Only
listen to what I say.- We must come to a final settlement,
HELMER. How do you mean?
NORA. [After a short silence.] Does not one thing strike you as we
HELMER. What should strike me?
NORA. We have been married eight years. Does it not strike you that
this is the first time we two, you and I, man and wife, have
talked together seriously?
HELMER. Seriously! What do you call seriously?
NORA. During eight whole years, and more- ever since the day we
first met- we have never exchanged one serious word about serious
HELMER. Was I always to trouble you with the cares you could not
help me to bear?
NORA. I am not talking of cares. I say that we have never yet set
ourselves seriously to get to the bottom of anything.
HELMER. Why, my dearest Nora, what have you to do with serious
NORA. There we have it! You have never understood me.- I have had
great injustice done me, Torvald; first by father, and then by
HELMER. What! By your father and me?- By us, who have loved you
more than all the world?
NORA. [Shaking her head.] You have never loved me. You only thought
it amusing to be in love with me.
HELMER. Why, Nora, what a thing to say!
NORA. Yes, it is so, Torvald. While I was at home with father, he
used to tell me all his opinions, and I held the same opinions.
If I had others I said nothing about them, because he wouldn't
have liked it. He used to call me his doll-child, and played with
me as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house-
HELMER. What an expression to use about our marriage!
NORA. [Undisturbed.] I mean I passed from father's hands into
yours. You arranged everything according to your taste; and I got
the same tastes as you; or I pretended to- I don't know which-
both ways, perhaps; sometimes one and sometimes the other. When I
look back on it now, I seem to have been living here like a
beggar, from hand to mouth. I lived by performing tricks for you,
Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father have done me a
great wrong. It is your fault that my life has come to nothing.
HELMER. Why, Nora, how unreasonable and ungrateful you are! Have
you not been happy here?
NORA. No, never. I thought I was; but I never was.
HELMER. Not- not happy!
NORA. No; only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But
our house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your
doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa's doll-child. And
the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun
when you played with me, just as the children did when I played
with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald.
HELMER. There is some truth in what you say, exaggerated and
overstrained though it be. But henceforth it shall be different.
Play-time is over; now comes the time for education.
NORA. Whose education? Mine, or the children's?
HELMER. Both, my dear Nora.
NORA. Oh, Torvald, you are not the man to teach me to be a fit wife
HELMER. And you can say that?
NORA. And I- how have I prepared myself to educate the children?
NORA. Did you not say yourself, a few minutes ago, you dared not
trust them to me?
HELMER. In the excitement of the moment! Why should you dwell upon
NORA. No- you were perfectly right. That problem is beyond me.
There is another to be solved first- I must try to educate
myself. You are not the man to help me in that. I must set about
it alone. And that is why I am leaving you.
HELMER. [Jumping up.] What- do you mean to say-?
NORA. I must stand quite alone if I am ever to know myself and my
surroundings; so I cannot stay with you.
HELMER. Nora! Nora!
NORA. I am going at once. I daresay Christina will take me in for
HELMER. You are mad! I shall not allow it! I forbid it!
NORA. It is of no use your forbidding me anything now. I shall take
with me what belongs to me. From you I will accept nothing,
either now or afterwards.
HELMER. What madness this is!
NORA. To-morrow I shall go home- I mean to what was my home. It
will be easier for me to find some opening there.
HELMER. Oh, in your blind inexperience-
NORA. I must try to gain experience, Torvald.
HELMER. To forsake your home, your husband, and your children! And
you don't consider what the world will say.
NORA. I can pay no heed to that. I only know that I must do it.
HELMER. This is monstrous! Can you forsake your holiest duties in
NORA. What do you consider my holiest duties?
HELMER. Do I need to tell you that? Your duties to your husband and
NORA. I have other duties equally sacred.
HELMER. Impossible! What duties do you mean?
NORA. My duties towards myself.
HELMER. Before all else you are a wife and a mother.
NORA. That I no longer believe. I believe that before all else I am
a human being, just as much as you are- or at least that I should
try to become one. I know that most people agree with you,
Torvald, and that they say so in books. But henceforth I can't be
satisfied with what most people say, and what is in books. I must
think things out for myself, and try to get clear about them.
HELMER. Are you not clear about your place in your own home? Have
you not an infallible guide in questions like these? Have you not
NORA. Oh, Torvald, I don't really know what religion is.
HELMER. What do you mean?
NORA. I know nothing but what Pastor Hansen told me when I was
confirmed. He explained that religion was this and that. When I
get away from all this and stand alone, I will look into that
matter too. I will see whether what he taught me is right, or, at
any rate, whether it is right for me.
HELMER. Oh, this is unheard of! And from so young a woman! But if
religion cannot keep you right, let me appeal to your conscience-
for I suppose you have some moral feeling? Or, answer me: perhaps
you have none?
NORA. Well, Torvald, it's not easy to say. I really don't know- I
am all at sea about these things. I only know that I think quite
differently from you about them. I hear, too, that the laws are
different from what I thought: but I can't believe that they can
be right. It appears that a woman has no right to spare her dying
father, or to save her husband's life! I don't believe that.
HELMER. You talk like a child. You don't understand the society in
which you live.
NORA. No, I do not. But now I shall try to learn. I must make up my
mind which is right- society or I.
HELMER. Nora, you are ill; you are feverish; I almost think you are
out of your senses.
NORA. I have never felt so much clearness and certainty as
HELMER. You are clear and certain enough to forsake husband and
NORA. Yes, I am.
HELMER. Then there is only one explanation possible.
NORA. What is that?
HELMER. You no longer love me.
NORA. No; that is just it.
HELMER. Nora!- Can you say so!
NORA. Oh, I'm so sorry, Torvald; for you've always been so kind to
me. But I can't help it. I do not love you any longer.
HELMER. [Mastering himself with difficulty.] Are you clear and
certain on this point too?
NORA. Yes, quite. That is why I will not stay here any longer.
HELMER. And can you also make clear to me how I have forfeited your
NORA. Yes, I can. It was this evening, when the miracle did not
happen; for then I saw you were not the man I had imagined.
HELMER. Explain yourself more clearly; I don't understand
NORA. I have waited so patiently all these eight years. for of
course I saw clearly enough that miracles don't happen every day.
When this crushing blow threatened me, I said to myself so
confidently, "Now comes the miracle!" When Krogstad's letter lay
in the box, it never for a moment occurred to me that you would
think of submitting to that man's conditions. I was convinced
that you would say to him, "Make it known to all the world"; and
HELMER. Well? When I had given my own wife's name up to disgrace
NORA. Then I firmly believed that you would come forward, take
everything upon yourself, and say, "I am the guilty one."
NORA. You mean I would never have accepted such a sacrifice? No,
certainly not. But what would my assertions have been worth in
opposition to yours?- That was the miracle that I hoped for and
dreaded. And it was to hinder that that I wanted to die.
HELMER. I would gladly work for you day and night, Nora- bear
sorrow and want for your sake. But no man sacrifices his honour,
even for one he loves.
NORA. Millions of women have done so.
HELMER. Oh, you think and talk like a silly child.
NORA. Very likely. But you neither think nor talk like the man I
can share my life with. When your terror was over- not for what
threatened me, but for yourself- when there was nothing more to
fear- then it seemed to you as though nothing had happened. I was
your lark again, your doll, just as before- whom you would take
twice as much care of in future, because she was so weak and
fragile. [Stands up.] Torvald- in that moment it burst upon me
that I had been living here these eight years with a strange man,
and had borne him three children.- Oh, I can't bear to think of
it! I could tear myself to pieces!
HELMER. [Sadly.] I see it, I see it; an abyss has opened between
us.- But, Nora, can it never be filled up?
NORA. As I now am, I am no wife for you.
HELMER. I have strength to become another man.
NORA. Perhaps- when your doll is taken away from you.
HELMER. To part- to part from you! No, Nora, no; I can't grasp the
NORA. [Going into room on the right.] The more reason for the thing
[She comes back with out-door things and a small
travelling-bag, which she places on a chair.
HELMER. Nora, Nora, not now! Wait till to-morrow.
NORA. [Putting on cloak.] I can't spend the night in a strange
HELMER. But can we not live here, as brother and sister-?
NORA. [Fastening her hat.] You know very well that wouldn't last
long. [Puts on the shawl.] Good-bye, Torvald. No. I won't go to
the children. I know they are in better hands than mine. As I now
am, I can be nothing to them.
HELMER. But some time, Nora- some time-?
NORA. How can I tell? I have no idea what will become of me.
HELMER. But you are my wife, now and always!
NORA. Listen, Torvald- when a wife leaves her husband's house, as I
am doing, I have heard that in the eyes of the law he is free
from all duties towards her. At any rate, I release you from all
duties. You must not feel yourself bound, any more than I shall.
There must be perfect freedom on both sides. There, I give you
back your ring. Give me mine.
HELMER. That too?
NORA. That too.
HELMER. Here it is.
NORA. Very well. Now it is all over. I lay the keys here. The
servants know about everything in the house- better than I do.
To-morrow, when I have started, Christina will come to pack up
the things I brought with me from home. I will have them sent
HELMER. All over! all over! Nora, will you never think of me again?
NORA. Oh, I shall often think of you, and the children, and this
HELMER. May I write to you, Nora?
NORA. No- never. You must not.
HELMER. But I must send you-
NORA. Nothing, nothing.
HELMER. I must help you if you need it.
NORA. No, I say. I take nothing from strangers.
HELMER. Nora- can I never be more than a stranger to you?
NORA. [Taking her travelling-bag.] Oh, Torvald, then the miracle of
miracles would have to happen-
HELMER. What is the miracle of miracles?
NORA. Both of us would have to change so that- Oh, Torvald, I no
longer believe in miracles.
HELMER. But I will believe. Tell me! We must so change that-?
NORA. That communion between us shall be a marriage. Good-bye.
[She goes out by the hall door.
HELMER. [Sinks into a chair by the door with his face in his
hands.] Nora! Nora! [He looks round and rises.] Empty. She is
gone. [A hope springs up in him.] Ah! The miracle of miracles-?!
[From below is heard the reverberation of a heavy door
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