by Henrik Ibsen
Act: I | II | III|
(THE SAME SCENE.--THE Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. NORA'S cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her
cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door and listens.) No--it is no
one. Of course, no one will come today, Christmas Day--nor tomorrow either.
But, perhaps-- (opens the door and looks out). No, nothing in the letterbox;
it is quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can't be in earnest
about it. Such a thing couldn't happen; it is
impossible--I have three little children.
(Enter the NURSE from the room on the left, carrying a big cardboard box.)
Nurse. At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
Nora. Thanks; put it on the table.
Nurse (doing so). But it is very much in want of mending.
Nora. I should like to tear it into a hundred thousand pieces.
Nurse. What an idea! It
can easily be put in order--just a little
Nora. Yes, I will go and
get Mrs. Linde to come and help me with
Nurse. What, out again?
In this horrible weather? You will catch
cold, ma'am, and make yourself ill.
Nora. Well, worse than that might happen. How are the children?
Nurse. The poor little souls
are playing with their Christmas
Nora. Do they ask much for me?
Nurse. You see, they are
so accustomed to have their mamma with
Nora. Yes, but, nurse, I
shall not be able to be so much with
them now as I was before.
Nurse. Oh well, young children easily get accustomed to anything.
Nora. Do you think so? Do
you think they would forget their
mother if she went away altogether?
Nurse. Good heavens!--went away altogether?
Nora. Nurse, I want you
to tell me something I have often
wondered about--how could you have the heart to put your own
child out among strangers?
Nurse. I was obliged to, if I wanted to be little Nora's nurse.
Nora. Yes, but how could you be willing to do it?
Nurse. What, when I was
going to get such a good place by it? A
poor girl who has got into trouble should be glad to. Besides,
that wicked man didn't do a single thing for me.
Nora. But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
Nurse. No, indeed she hasn't.
She wrote to me when she was
confirmed, and when she was married.
Nora (putting her arms round
her neck). Dear old Anne, you were a
good mother to me when I was little.
Nurse. Little Nora, poor
dear, had no other mother but me. Nora.
And if my little ones had no other mother, I am sure you would--
What nonsense I am talking! (Opens the box.) Go in to them. Now I
must--. You will see tomorrow how charming I shall look.
Nurse. I am sure there will
be no one at the ball so charming as
you, ma'am. (Goes into the room on the left.)
Nora (begins to unpack the
box, but soon pushes it away from
her). If only I dared go out. If only no one would come. If only
I could be sure nothing would happen here in the meantime. Stuff
and nonsense! No one will come. Only I mustn't think about it. I
will brush my muff. What lovely, lovely gloves! Out of my thoughts,
out of my thoughts! One, two, three, four, five, six--
(Screams.) Ah! there is someone coming--. (Makes a movement
towards the door, but stands irresolute.)
(Enter MRS. LINDE from the
hall, where she has taken off her
cloak and hat.)
Nora. Oh, it's you, Christine.
There is no one else out there, is
there? How good of you to come!
Mrs. Linde. I heard you were up asking for me.
Nora. Yes, I was passing
by. As a matter of fact, it is something
you could help me with. Let us sit down here on the sofa. Look
here. Tomorrow evening there is to be a fancy-dress ball at the
Stenborgs', who live above us; and Torvald wants me to go as a
Neapolitan fisher-girl, and dance the Tarantella that I learned at
Mrs. Linde. I see; you are going to keep up the character.
Nora. Yes, Torvald wants
me to. Look, here is the dress; Torvald had
it made for me there, but now it is all so torn, and I haven't any
Mrs. Linde. We will easily
put that right. It is only some of the
trimming come unsewn here and there. Needle and thread? Now then,
that's all we want.
Nora. It is nice of you.
Mrs. Linde (sewing). So
you are going to be dressed up tomorrow
Nora. I will tell you what--I shall come in for a moment and see
you in your fine feathers. But I have completely forgotten to
thank you for a delightful evening yesterday.
Nora (gets up, and crosses
the stage). Well, I don't think
yesterday was as pleasant as usual. You ought to have come to
town a little earlier, Christine. Certainly Torvald does
understand how to make a house dainty and attractive.
Mrs. Linde. And so do you,
it seems to me; you are not your
father's daughter for nothing. But tell me, is Doctor Rank always
as depressed as he was yesterday?
Nora. No; yesterday it was
very noticeable. I must tell you that
he suffers from a very dangerous disease. He has consumption of
the spine, poor creature. His father was a horrible man who
committed all sorts of excesses; and that is why his son was
sickly from childhood, do you understand?
Mrs. Linde (dropping her
sewing). But, my dearest Nora, how do
you know anything about such things?
Nora (walking about). Pooh!
When you have three children, you get
visits now and then from--from married women, who know something
of medical matters, and they talk about one thing and another.
Mrs. Linde (goes on sewing.
A short silence). Does Doctor Rank
come here everyday?
Nora. Everyday regularly.
He is Torvald's most intimate friend,
and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
Mrs. Linde. But tell me
this--is he perfectly sincere? I mean, isn't
he the kind of man that is very anxious to make himself agreeable?
Nora. Not in the least. What makes you think that?
Mrs. Linde. When you introduced
him to me yesterday, he declared he
had often heard my name mentioned in this house; but afterwards I
noticed that your husband hadn't the slightest idea who I was.
So how could Doctor Rank--?
Nora. That is quite right,
Christine. Torvald is so absurdly fond
of me that he wants me absolutely to himself, as he says. At first
he used to seem almost jealous if I mentioned any of the dear folk
at home, so naturally I gave up doing so. But I often talk about
such things with Doctor Rank, because he likes hearing about them.
Mrs. Linde. Listen to me,
Nora. You are still very like a child
in many things, and I am older than you in many ways and have a
little more experience. Let me tell you this--you ought to make
an end of it with Doctor Rank.
Nora. What ought I to make an end of?
Mrs. Linde. Of two things,
I think. Yesterday you talked some
nonsense about a rich admirer who was to leave you money--
Nora. An admirer who doesn't exist, unfortunately! But what then?
Mrs. Linde. Is Doctor Rank a man of means?
Nora. Yes, he is.
Mrs. Linde. And has no one to provide for?
Nora. No, no one; but--
Mrs. Linde. And comes here everyday?
Nora. Yes, I told you so.
Mrs. Linde. But how can this well-bred man be so tactless?
Nora. I don't understand you at all.
Mrs. Linde. Don't prevaricate,
Nora. Do you suppose I don't guess
who lent you the two hundred and fifty pounds?
Nora. Are you out of your
senses? How can you think of such a thing!
A friend of ours, who comes here everyday! Do you realise what a
horribly painful position that would be?
Mrs. Linde. Then it really isn't he?
Nora. No, certainly not.
It would never have entered into my head
for a moment. Besides, he had no money to lend then; he came into
his money afterwards.
Mrs. Linde. Well, I think that was lucky for you, my dear Nora.
Nora. No, it would never
have come into my head to ask Doctor
Rank. Although I am quite sure that if I had asked him--
Mrs. Linde. But of course you won't.
Nora. Of course not. I have
no reason to think it could possibly
be necessary. But I am quite sure that if I told Doctor Rank--
Mrs. Linde. Behind your husband's back?
Nora. I must make an end
of it with the other one, and that will
be behind his back too. I must make an end of it with him.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, that is what I told you yesterday, but--
Nora (walking up and down).
A man can put a thing like that
straight much easier than a woman--
Mrs. Linde. One's husband, yes.
Nora. Nonsense! (Standing
still.) When you pay off a debt you get
your bond back, don't you?
Mrs. Linde. Yes, as a matter of course.
Nora. And can tear it into
a hundred thousand pieces, and burn it
up--the nasty dirty paper!
Mrs. Linde (looks hard at
her, lays down her sewing and gets up
slowly). Nora, you are concealing something from me.
Nora. Do I look as if I were?
Mrs. Linde. Something has
happened to you since yesterday morning.
Nora, what is it?
Nora (going nearer to her).
Christine! (Listens.) Hush! there's
Torvald come home. Do you mind going in to the children for the
present? Torvald can't bear to see dressmaking going on. Let Anne
Mrs. Linde (gathering some
of the things together). Certainly --
but I am not going away from here until we have had it out with
one another. (She goes into the room on the left, as HELMER comes
in from the hall.)
Nora (going up to HELMER).
I have wanted you so much, Torvald
Helmer. Was that the dressmaker?
Nora. No, it was Christine;
she is helping me to put my dress in
order. You will see I shall look quite smart.
Helmer. Wasn't that a happy thought of mine, now?
Nora. Splendid! But don't
you think it is nice of me, too, to do
as you wish?
Helmer. Nice?--because you
do as your husband wishes? Well, well,
you little rogue, I am sure you did not mean it in that way. But
I am not going to disturb you; you will want to be trying on your
dress, I expect.
Nora. I suppose you are going to work.
Helmer. Yes. (Shows her
a bundle of papers.) Look at that. I have
just been into the bank. (Turns to go into his room.)
Nora. If your little squirrel
were to ask you for something very,
Helmer. What then?
Nora. Would you do it?
Helmer. I should like to hear what it is, first.
Nora. Your squirrel would
run about and do all her tricks if you
would be nice, and do what she wants.
Helmer. Speak plainly.
Nora. Your skylark would
chirp about in every room, with her song
rising and falling--
Helmer. Well, my skylark does that anyhow.
Nora. I would play the fairy
and dance for you in the moonlight,
Helmer. Nora--you surely
don't mean that request you made to me
Nora (going near him). Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. Have you really the courage to open up that question again?
Nora. Yes, dear, you must
do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep
his post in the bank.
Helmer. My dear Nora, it
is his post that I have arranged Mrs.
Linde shall have.
Nora. Yes, you have been
awfully kind about that; but you could
just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
Helmer. This is simply incredible
obstinacy! Because you chose to
give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am
Nora. That isn't the reason,
Torvald. It is for your own sake.
This fellow writes in the most scurrilous newspapers; you have
told me so yourself. He can do you an unspeakable amount of harm.
I am frightened to death of him--
Helmer. Ah, I understand;
it is recollections of the past that
Nora. What do you mean?
Helmer. Naturally you are thinking of your father.
Nora. Yes--yes, of course.
Just recall to your mind what these
malicious creatures wrote in the papers about papa, and how
horribly they slandered him. I believe they would have procured
his dismissal if the Department had not sent you over to inquire
into it, and if you had not been so kindly disposed and helpful
Helmer. My little Nora,
there is an important difference between
your father and me. Your father's reputation as a public official
was not above suspicion. Mine is, and I hope it will continue to
be so, as long as I hold my office.
Nora. You never can tell
what mischief these men may contrive. We
ought to be so well off, so snug and happy here in our peaceful
home, and have no cares--you and I and the children, Torvald!
That is why I beg you so earnestly--
Helmer. And it is just by
interceding for him that you make it
impossible for me to keep him. It is already known at the Bank
that I mean to dismiss Krogstad. Is it to get about now that the
new manager has changed his mind at his wife's bidding--
Nora. And what if it did?
Helmer. Of course!--if only
this obstinate little person can get
her way! Do you suppose I am going to make myself ridiculous before
my whole staff, to let people think that I am a man to be swayed by
all sorts of outside influence? I should very soon feel the
consequences of it, I can tell you! And besides, there is one thing
that makes it quite impossible for me to have Krogstad in the Bank
as long as I am manager.
Nora. Whatever is that?
Helmer. His moral failings
I might perhaps have overlooked, if
Nora. Yes, you could--couldn't you?
Helmer. And I hear he is
a good worker, too. But I knew him when
we were boys. It was one of those rash friendships that so often
prove an incubus in afterlife. I may as well tell you plainly,
we were once on very intimate terms with one another. But this
tactless fellow lays no restraint on himself when other people
are present. On the contrary, he thinks it gives him the right to
adopt a familiar tone with me, and every minute it is "I say,
Helmer, old fellow!" and that sort of thing. I assure you it is
extremely painful for me. He would make my position in the Bank
Nora. Torvald, I don't believe you mean that.
Helmer. Don't you? Why not?
Nora. Because it is such
a narrow-minded way of looking at
Helmer. What are you saying?
Narrow-minded? Do you think I am
Nora. No, just the opposite,
dear--and it is exactly for that
Helmer. It's the same thing.
You say my point of view is narrow-
minded, so I must be so too. Narrow-minded! Very well--I must put
an end to this. (Goes to the hall door and calls.) Helen!
Nora. What are you going to do?
Helmer (looking among his
papers). Settle it. (Enter MAID.) Look
here; take this letter and go downstairs with it at once. Find a
messenger and tell him to deliver it, and be quick. The address
is on it, and here is the money.
Maid. Very well, sir. (Exit with the letter.)
Helmer (putting his papers
together). Now then, little Miss
Nora (breathlessly). Torvald--what was that letter?
Helmer. Krogstad's dismissal.
Nora. Call her back, Torvald!
There is still time. Oh Torvald,
call her back! Do it for my sake--for your own sake--for the
children's sake! Do you hear me, Torvald? Call her back! You
don't know what that letter can bring upon us.
Helmer. It's too late.
Nora. Yes, it's too late.
Helmer. My dear Nora, I
can forgive the anxiety you are in,
although really it is an insult to me. It is, indeed. Isn't
it an insult to think that I should be afraid of a starving
quill-driver's vengeance? But I forgive you nevertheless,
because it is such eloquent witness to your great love for
me. (Takes her in his arms.) And that is as it should be,
my own darling Nora. Come what will, you may be sure I shall
have both courage and strength if they be needed. You will
see I am man enough to take everything upon myself.
Nora (in a horror-stricken voice). What do you mean by that?
Helmer. Everything, I say--
Nora (recovering herself). You will never have to do that.
Helmer. That's right. Well,
we will share it, Nora, as man
and wife should. That is how it shall be. (Caressing her.)
Are you content now? There! There!--not these frightened dove's
eyes! The whole thing is only the wildest fancy!--Now, you must
go and play through the Tarantella and practise with your
tambourine. I shall go into the inner office and shut the door,
and I shall hear nothing; you can make as much noise as you
please. (Turns back at the door.) And when Rank comes, tell him
where he will find me. (Nods to her, takes his papers and goes
into his room, and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (bewildered with anxiety,
stands as if rooted to the spot,
and whispers). He was capable of doing it. He will do it. He will
do it in spite of everything.--No, not that! Never, never!
Anything rather than that! Oh, for some help, some way out of
it! (The door-bell rings.) Doctor Rank! Anything rather than
that--anything, whatever it is! (She puts her hands over her
face, pulls herself together, goes to the door and opens it. RANK
is standing without, hanging up his coat. During the following
dialogue it begins to grow dark.)
Nora. Good day, Doctor Rank.
I knew your ring. But you mustn't
go in to Torvald now; I think he is busy with something.
Rank. And you?
Nora (brings him in and
shuts the door after him). Oh, you know
very well I always have time for you.
Rank. Thank you. I shall make use of as much of it as I can.
Nora. What do you mean by that? As much of it as you can?
Rank. Well, does that alarm you?
Nora. It was such a strange
way of putting it. Is anything likely
Rank. Nothing but what I
have long been prepared for. But I
certainly didn't expect it to happen so soon.
Nora (gripping him by the
arm). What have you found out? Doctor
Rank, you must tell me.
Rank (sitting down by the
stove). It is all up with me. And it
can't be helped.
Nora (with a sigh of relief). Is it about yourself?
Rank. Who else? It is no
use lying to one's self. I am the most
wretched of all my patients, Mrs. Helmer. Lately I have been
taking stock of my internal economy. Bankrupt! Probably within
a month I shall lie rotting in the churchyard.
Nora. What an ugly thing to say!
Rank. The thing itself is
cursedly ugly, and the worst of it is
that I shall have to face so much more that is ugly before that.
I shall only make one more examination of myself; when I have
done that, I shall know pretty certainly when it will be that the
horrors of dissolution will begin. There is something I want to
tell you. Helmer's refined nature gives him an unconquerable
disgust at everything that is ugly; I won't have him in my sick-
Nora. Oh, but, Doctor Rank--
Rank. I won't have him there.
Not on any account. I bar my door
to him. As soon as I am quite certain that the worst has come, I
shall send you my card with a black cross on it, and then you
will know that the loathsome end has begun.
Nora. You are quite absurd
today. And I wanted you so much to be
in a really good humour.
Rank. With death stalking
beside me?--To have to pay this penalty
for another man's sin? Is there any justice in that? And in
every single family, in one way or another, some such inexorable
retribution is being exacted--
Nora (putting her hands
over her ears). Rubbish! Do talk of
Rank. Oh, it's a mere laughing
matter, the whole thing. My poor
innocent spine has to suffer for my father's youthful amusements.
Nora (sitting at the table
on the left). I suppose you mean that
he was too partial to asparagus and pate de foie gras, don't you?
Rank. Yes, and to truffles.
Nora. Truffles, yes. And oysters too, I suppose?
Rank. Oysters, of course, that goes without saying.
Nora. And heaps of port
and champagne. It is sad that all these
nice things should take their revenge on our bones.
Rank. Especially that they
should revenge themselves on the unlucky
bones of those who have not had the satisfaction of enjoying them.
Nora. Yes, that's the saddest part of it all.
Rank (with a searching look at her). Hm!--
Nora (after a short pause). Why did you smile?
Rank. No, it was you that laughed.
Nora. No, it was you that smiled, Doctor Rank!
Rank (rising). You are a greater rascal than I thought.
Nora. I am in a silly mood today.
Rank. So it seems.
Nora (putting her hands
on his shoulders). Dear, dear Doctor
Rank, death mustn't take you away from Torvald and me.
Rank. It is a loss you would
easily recover from. Those who are
gone are soon forgotten.
Nora (looking at him anxiously). Do you believe that?
Rank. People form new ties, and then--
Nora. Who will form new ties?
Rank. Both you and Helmer,
when I am gone. You yourself are
already on the high road to it, I think. What did that Mrs. Linde
want here last night?
Nora. Oho!--you don't mean
to say you are jealous of poor
Rank. Yes, I am. She will
be my successor in this house. When I
am done for, this woman will--
Nora. Hush! don't speak so loud. She is in that room.
Rank. Today again. There, you see.
Nora. She has only come
to sew my dress for me. Bless my soul,
how unreasonable you are! (Sits down on the sofa.) Be nice now,
Doctor Rank, and tomorrow you will see how beautifully I shall
dance, and you can imagine I am doing it all for you--and for
Torvald too, of course. (Takes various things out of the box.)
Doctor Rank, come and sit down here, and I will show you something.
Rank (sitting down). What is it?
Nora. Just look at those!
Rank. Silk stockings.
Nora. Flesh-coloured. Aren't
they lovely? It is so dark here now,
but tomorrow--. No, no, no! you must only look at the feet. Oh
well, you may have leave to look at the legs too.
Rank. Hm!--Nora. Why are
you looking so critical? Don't you think
they will fit me?
Rank. I have no means of forming an opinion about that.
Nora (looks at him for a
moment). For shame! (Hits him lightly on the
ear with the stockings.) That's to punish you. (Folds them up again.)
Rank. And what other nice things am I to be allowed to see?
Nora. Not a single thing
more, for being so naughty. (She looks
among the things, humming to herself.)
Rank (after a short silence).
When I am sitting here, talking to
you as intimately as this, I cannot imagine for a moment what
would have become of me if I had never come into this house.
Nora (smiling). I believe you do feel thoroughly at home with us.
Rank (in a lower voice,
looking straight in front of him). And to
be obliged to leave it all--
Nora. Nonsense, you are not going to leave it.
Rank (as before). And not
be able to leave behind one the slightest
token of one's gratitude, scarcely even a fleeting regret--nothing
but an empty place which the first comer can fill as well as any other.
Nora. And if I asked you now for a--? No!
Rank. For what?
Nora. For a big proof of your friendship--
Rank. Yes, yes!
Nora. I mean a tremendously big favour--
Rank. Would you really make me so happy for once?
Nora. Ah, but you don't know what it is yet.
Rank. No--but tell me.
Nora. I really can't, Doctor
Rank. It is something out of all
reason; it means advice, and help, and a favour--
Rank. The bigger a thing
it is the better. I can't conceive what
it is you mean. Do tell me. Haven't I your confidence?
Nora. More than anyone else.
I know you are my truest and best
friend, and so I will tell you what it is. Well, Doctor Rank, it
is something you must help me to prevent. You know how devotedly,
how inexpressibly deeply Torvald loves me; he would never for a
moment hesitate to give his life for me.
Rank (leaning towards her).
Nora--do you think he is the only
Nora (with a slight start). The only one--?
Rank. The only one who would gladly give his life for your sake.
Nora (sadly). Is that it?
Rank. I was determined you
should know it before I went away, and
there will never be a better opportunity than this. Now you know
it, Nora. And now you know, too, that you can trust me as you
would trust no one else.
Nora (rises, deliberately and quietly). Let me pass.
Rank (makes room for her to pass him, but sits still). Nora!
Nora (at the hall door).
Helen, bring in the lamp. (Goes over to
the stove.) Dear Doctor Rank, that was really horrid of you.
Rank. To have loved you
as much as anyone else does? Was that
Nora. No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no need--
Rank. What do you mean?
Did you know--? (MAID enters with lamp,
puts it down on the table, and goes out.) Nora--Mrs. Helmer--tell
me, had you any idea of this?
Nora. Oh, how do I know
whether I had or whether I hadn't? I
really can't tell you--To think you could be so clumsy, Doctor Rank!
We were getting on so nicely.
Rank. Well, at all events
you know now that you can command me,
body and soul. So won't you speak out?
Nora (looking at him). After what happened?
Rank. I beg you to let me know what it is.
Nora. I can't tell you anything now.
Rank. Yes, yes. You mustn't
punish me in that way. Let me have
permission to do for you whatever a man may do.
Nora. You can do nothing
for me now. Besides, I really don't need
any help at all. You will find that the whole thing is merely fancy
on my part. It really is so--of course it is! (Sits down in the
rocking-chair, and looks at him with a smile.) You are a nice sort
of man, Doctor Rank!--don't you feel ashamed of yourself, now the
lamp has come?
Rank. Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--for ever?
Nora. No, indeed, you shall
not. Of course you must come here
just as before. You know very well Torvald can't do without you.
Rank. Yes, but you?
Nora. Oh, I am always tremendously pleased when you come.
Rank. It is just that, that
put me on the wrong track. You are a
riddle to me. I have often thought that you would almost as soon
be in my company as in Helmer's.
Nora. Yes--you see there
are some people one loves best, and
others whom one would almost always rather have as companions.
Rank. Yes, there is something in that.
Nora. When I was at home,
of course I loved papa best. But I
always thought it tremendous fun if I could steal down into the
maids' room, because they never moralised at all, and talked to
each other about such entertaining things.
Rank. I see--it is their place I have taken.
Nora (jumping up and going
to him). Oh, dear, nice Doctor Rank, I
never meant that at all. But surely you can understand that being
with Torvald is a little like being with papa-- (Enter MAID from
Maid. If you please, ma'am. (Whispers and hands her a card.)
Nora (glancing at the card). Oh! (Puts it in her pocket.)
Rank. Is there anything wrong?
Nora. No, no, not in the
least. It is only something--it is my
Rank. What? Your dress is lying there.
Nora. Oh, yes, that one;
but this is another. I ordered it.
Torvald mustn't know about it--
Rank. Oho! Then that was the great secret.
Nora. Of course. Just go
in to him; he is sitting in the inner
room. Keep him as long as--
Rank. Make your mind easy; I won't let him escape.
(Goes into HELMER'S room.)
Nora (to the MAID). And he is standing waiting in the kitchen?
Maid. Yes; he came up the back stairs.
Nora. But didn't you tell him no one was in?
Maid. Yes, but it was no good.
Nora. He won't go away?
Maid. No; he says he won't until he has seen you, ma'am.
Nora. Well, let him come
in--but quietly. Helen, you mustn't say
anything about it to anyone. It is a surprise for my husband.
Maid. Yes, ma'am, I quite understand. (Exit.)
Nora. This dreadful thing
is going to happen! It will happen in
spite of me! No, no, no, it can't happen--it shan't happen! (She
bolts the door of HELMER'S room. The MAID opens the hall door for
KROGSTAD and shuts it after him. He is wearing a fur coat, high
boots and a fur cap.)
Nora (advancing towards him). Speak low--my husband is at home.
Krogstad. No matter about that.
Nora. What do you want of me?
Krogstad. An explanation of something.
Nora. Make haste then. What is it?
Krogstad. You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.
Nora. I couldn't prevent
it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard as I
could on your side, but it was no good.
Krogstad. Does your husband
love you so little, then? He knows
what I can expose you to, and yet he ventures--
Nora. How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of the sort?
Krogstad. I didn't suppose
so at all. It would not be the least
like our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage--
Nora. Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.
the respect he deserves. But since you
have kept the matter so carefully to yourself, I make bold to
suppose that you have a little clearer idea, than you had
yesterday, of what it actually is that you have done?
Nora. More than you could ever teach me.
Krogstad. Yes, such a bad lawyer as I am.
Nora. What is it you want of me?
Krogstad. Only to see how
you were, Mrs. Helmer. I have been
thinking about you all day long. A mere cashier, a quill-driver,
a--well, a man like me--even he has a little of what is called
feeling, you know.
Nora. Show it, then; think of my little children.
Krogstad. Have you and your
husband thought of mine? But never
mind about that. I only wanted to tell you that you need not
take this matter too seriously. In the first place there will
be no accusation made on my part.
Nora. No, of course not; I was sure of that.
Krogstad. The whole thing
can be arranged amicably; there is
no reason why anyone should know anything about it. It will
remain a secret between us three.
Nora. My husband must never get to know anything about it.
Krogstad. How will you be
able to prevent it? Am I to understand
that you can pay the balance that is owing?
Nora. No, not just at present.
Krogstad. Or perhaps that
you have some expedient for raising the
Nora. No expedient that I mean to make use of.
Krogstad. Well, in any case,
it would have been of no use to you
now. If you stood there with ever so much money in your hand, I
would never part with your bond.
Nora. Tell me what purpose you mean to put it to.
Krogstad. I shall only preserve
it--keep it in my possession. No
one who is not concerned in the matter shall have the slightest
hint of it. So that if the thought of it has driven you to any
Nora. It has.
Krogstad. If you had it in your mind to run away from your home--
Nora. I had.
Krogstad. Or even something worse--
Nora. How could you know that?
Krogstad. Give up the idea.
Nora. How did you know I had thought of that?
Krogstad. Most of us think
of that at first. I did, too--but I
hadn't the courage.
Nora (faintly). No more had I.
Krogstad (in a tone of relief).
No, that's it, isn't it--you
hadn't the courage either?
Nora. No, I haven't--I haven't.
Krogstad. Besides, it would
have been a great piece of folly.
Once the first storm at home is over--. I have a letter for your
husband in my pocket.
Nora. Telling him everything?
Krogstad. In as lenient a manner as I possibly could.
Nora (quickly). He mustn't
get the letter. Tear it up. I will
find some means of getting money.
Krogstad. Excuse me, Mrs.
Helmer, but I think I told you just
Nora. I am not speaking
of what I owe you. Tell me what sum you
are asking my husband for, and I will get the money.
Krogstad. I am not asking your husband for a penny.
Nora. What do you want, then?
Krogstad. I will tell you.
I want to rehabilitate myself,
Mrs. Helmer; I want to get on; and in that your husband must
help me. For the last year and a half I have not had a hand
in anything dishonourable, amid all that time I have been
struggling in most restricted circumstances. I was content
to work my way up step by step. Now I am turned out, and I
am not going to be satisfied with merely being taken into
favour again. I want to get on, I tell you. I want to get
into the Bank again, in a higher position. Your husband
must make a place for me--
Nora. That he will never do!
Krogstad. He will; I know
him; he dare not protest. And as soon
as I am in there again with him, then you will see! Within a year
I shall be the manager's right hand. It will be Nils Krogstad
and not Torvald Helmer who manages the Bank.
Nora. That's a thing you will never see!
Krogstad. Do you mean that you will--?
Nora. I have courage enough for it now.
Krogstad. Oh, you can't frighten me. A fine, spoilt lady like you--
Nora. You will see, you will see.
Krogstad. Under the ice,
perhaps? Down into the cold, coal-black
water? And then, in the spring, to float up to the surface, all
horrible and unrecognisable, with your hair fallen out--
Nora. You can't frighten me.
Krogstad. Nor you me. People
don't do such things, Mrs. Helmer.
Besides, what use would it be? I should have him completely in my
power all the same.
Nora. Afterwards? When I am no longer--
Krogstad. Have you forgotten
that it is I who have the keeping of
your reputation? (NORA stands speechlessly looking at him.) Well,
now, I have warned you. Do not do anything foolish. When Helmer
has had my letter, I shall expect a message from him. And be sure
you remember that it is your husband himself who has forced me
into such ways as this again. I will never forgive him for that.
Goodbye, Mrs. Helmer. (Exit through the hall.)
Nora (goes to the hall door,
opens it slightly and listens.) He
is going. He is not putting the letter in the box. Oh no, no!
that's impossible! (Opens the door by degrees.) What is that? He
is standing outside. He is not going downstairs. Is he
hesitating? Can he--? (A letter drops into the box; then
KROGSTAD'S footsteps are heard, until they die away as he goes
downstairs. NORA utters a stifled cry, and runs across the room
to the table by the sofa. A short pause.)
Nora. In the letter-box. (Steals across to the hall door.) There
it lies--Torvald, Torvald, there is no hope for us now!
(Mrs. LINDE comes in from
the room on the left, carrying the
Mrs. Linde. There, I can't
see anything more to mend now. Would
you like to try it on--?
Nora (in a hoarse whisper). Christine, come here.
Mrs. Linde (throwing the
dress down on the sofa). What is the
matter with you? You look so agitated!
Nora. Come here. Do you
see that letter? There, look--you can see
it through the glass in the letter-box.
Mrs. Linde. Yes, I see it.
Nora. That letter is from Krogstad.
Mrs. Linde. Nora--it was Krogstad who lent you the money!
Nora. Yes, and now Torvald will know all about it.
Mrs. Linde. Believe me, Nora, that's the best thing for both of you.
Nora. You don't know all. I forged a name.
Mrs. Linde. Good heavens--!
Nora. I only want to say
this to you, Christine--you must be my
Mrs. Linde. Your witness? What do you mean? What am I to--?
Nora. If I should go out of my mind--and it might easily happen--
Mrs. Linde. Nora!
Nora. Or if anything else
should happen to me--anything, for
instance, that might prevent my being here--
Mrs. Linde. Nora! Nora! you are quite out of your mind.
Nora. And if it should happen
that there were some one who wanted
to take all the responsibility, all the blame, you understand--
Mrs. Linde. Yes, yes--but how can you suppose--?
Nora. Then you must be my
witness, that it is not true, Christine.
I am not out of my mind at all; I am in my right senses now, and
I tell you no one else has known anything about it; I, and I
alone, did the whole thing. Remember that.
Mrs. Linde. I will, indeed. But I don't understand all this.
Nora. How should you understand
it? A wonderful thing is going
Mrs. Linde. A wonderful thing?
Nora. Yes, a wonderful thing!--But
it is so terrible, Christine;
it mustn't happen, not for all the world.
Mrs. Linde. I will go at once and see Krogstad.
Nora. Don't go to him; he will do you some harm.
Mrs. Linde. There was a
time when he would gladly do anything for
Mrs. Linde. Where does he live?
Nora. How should I know--?
Yes (feeling in her pocket), here is
his card. But the letter, the letter--!
Helmer (calls from his room,
knocking at the door). Nora! Nora
(cries out anxiously). Oh, what's that? What do you want?
Helmer. Don't be so frightened.
We are not coming in; you have
locked the door. Are you trying on your dress?
Nora. Yes, that's it. I look so nice, Torvald.
Mrs. Linde (who has read the card). I see he lives at the corner here.
Nora. Yes, but it's no use.
It is hopeless. The letter is lying
there in the box.
Mrs. Linde. And your husband keeps the key?
Nora. Yes, always.
Mrs. Linde. Krogstad must
ask for his letter back unread, he must
find some pretence--
Nora. But it is just at this time that Torvald generally--
Mrs. Linde. You must delay
him. Go in to him in the meantime. I
will come back as soon as I can. (She goes out hurriedly through
the hall door.)
Nora (goes to HELMER'S door, opens it and peeps in). Torvald!
Helmer (from the inner room).
Well? May I venture at last to come
into my own room again? Come along, Rank, now you will see--
(Halting in the doorway.) But what is this?
Nora. What is what, dear?
Helmer. Rank led me to expect a splendid transformation.
Rank (in the doorway). I
understood so, but evidently I was
Nora. Yes, nobody is to
have the chance of admiring me in my
dress until tomorrow.
Helmer. But, my dear Nora,
you look so worn out. Have you been
practising too much?
Nora. No, I have not practised at all.
Helmer. But you will need to--
Nora. Yes, indeed I shall,
Torvald. But I can't get on a bit
without you to help me; I have absolutely forgotten the whole
Helmer. Oh, we will soon work it up again.
Nora. Yes, help me, Torvald.
Promise that you will! I am so
nervous about it--all the people--. You must give yourself up to
me entirely this evening. Not the tiniest bit of business--you
mustn't even take a pen in your hand. Will you promise, Torvald dear?
Helmer. I promise. This
evening I will be wholly and absolutely
at your service, you helpless little mortal. Ah, by the way,
first of all I will just-- (Goes towards the hall door.)
Nora. What are you going to do there?
Helmer. Only see if any letters have come.
Nora. No, no! don't do that, Torvald!
Helmer. Why not?
Nora. Torvald, please don't. There is nothing there.
Helmer. Well, let me look. (Turns to go to the letter-box. NORA,
at the piano, plays the first bars of the Tarantella. HELMER
stops in the doorway.) Aha!
Nora. I can't dance tomorrow if I don't practise with you.
Helmer (going up to her). Are you really so afraid of it, dear?
Nora. Yes, so dreadfully
afraid of it. Let me practise at once;
there is time now, before we go to dinner. Sit down and play for
me, Torvald dear; criticise me, and correct me as you play.
Helmer. With great pleasure,
if you wish me to. (Sits down at the
Nora (takes out of the box
a tambourine and a long variegated
shawl. She hastily drapes the shawl round her. Then she springs
to the front of the stage and calls out). Now play for me! I am
going to dance!
(HELMER plays and NORA dances.
RANK stands by the piano behind
HELMER, and looks on.)
Helmer (as he plays). Slower, slower!
Nora. I can't do it any other way.
Helmer. Not so violently, Nora!
Nora. This is the way.
Helmer (stops playing). No, no--that is not a bit right.
Nora (laughing and swinging
the tambourine). Didn't I tell you
Rank. Let me play for her.
Helmer (getting up). Yes, do. I can correct her better then.
(RANK sits down at the piano
and plays. NORA dances more and more
wildly. HELMER has taken up a position beside the stove, and
during her dance gives her frequent instructions. She does not
seem to hear him; her hair comes down and falls over her
shoulders; she pays no attention to it, but goes on dancing.
Enter Mrs. LINDE.)
Mrs. Linde (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway). Oh!--
Nora (as she dances). Such fun, Christine!
Helmer. My dear darling
Nora, you are dancing as if your life
depended on it.
Nora. So it does.
Helmer. Stop, Rank; this
is sheer madness. Stop, I tell you!
(RANK stops playing, and NORA suddenly stands still. HELMER goes
up to her.) I could never have believed it. You have forgotten
everything I taught you.
Nora (throwing away the tambourine). There, you see.
Helmer. You will want a lot of coaching.
Nora. Yes, you see how much
I need it. You must coach me up to
the last minute. Promise me that, Torvald!
Helmer. You can depend on me.
Nora. You must not think
of anything but me, either today or
tomorrow; you mustn't open a single letter--not even open the
Helmer. Ah, you are still afraid of that fellow--
Nora. Yes, indeed I am.
Helmer. Nora, I can tell
from your looks that there is a letter
from him lying there.
Nora. I don't know; I think
there is; but you must not read
anything of that kind now. Nothing horrid must come between us
until this is all over.
Rank (whispers to HELMER). You mustn't contradict her.
Helmer (taking her in his
arms). The child shall have her way.
But tomorrow night, after you have danced--
Nora. Then you will be free. (The MAID appears in the doorway to
Maid. Dinner is served, ma'am.
Nora. We will have champagne, Helen.
Maid. Very good, ma'am. [Exit.
Helmer. Hullo!--are we going to have a banquet?
Nora. Yes, a champagne banquet
until the small hours. (Calls out.)
And a few macaroons, Helen--lots, just for once!
Helmer. Come, come, don't
be so wild and nervous. Be my own
little skylark, as you used.
Nora. Yes, dear, I will.
But go in now and you too, Doctor Rank.
Christine, you must help me to do up my hair.
Rank (whispers to HELMER
as they go out). I suppose there is
nothing--she is not expecting anything?
Helmer. Far from it, my
dear fellow; it is simply nothing more
than this childish nervousness I was telling you of. (They go
into the right-hand room.)
Mrs. Linde. Gone out of town.
Nora. I could tell from your face.
Mrs. Linde. He is coming
home tomorrow evening. I wrote a note
Nora. You should have let
it alone; you must prevent nothing.
After all, it is splendid to be waiting for a wonderful thing to
Mrs. Linde. What is it that you are waiting for?
Nora. Oh, you wouldn't understand.
Go in to them, I will come in
a moment. (Mrs. LINDE goes into the dining-room. NORA stands
still for a little while, as if to compose herself. Then she
looks at her watch.) Five o'clock. Seven hours until midnight; and
then four-and-twenty hours until the next midnight. Then the
Tarantella will be over. Twenty-four and seven? Thirty-one hours
Helmer (from the doorway on the right). Where's my little skylark?
Nora (going to him with her arms outstretched). Here she is!