(SCENE.-The same room in the late evening. The lamp, with a shade
on it, is burning on the table. REBECCA is standing by the table,
packing some small articles in a travelling-bag. Her cloak, hat,
and the white crochetted shawl are hanging on the back of the
couch. Mrs HELSETH comes in from the right.)
MRS HELSETH (speaking in low tones and with a reserved manner).
Yes, all your things have been taken down, miss. They are in the
But, my dear Mrs Helseth, what do you mean by that?
I mean what is true and right, miss. He should not
get out of it in this way--that he shouldn't.
REBECCA(looking at her)
Now look here, Mrs Helseth. Tell me,
honestly and frankly, why you think I am going away.
Good Lord, miss--because it is necessary, I suppose.
Well, well!--Still, I certainly do not think Mr. Rosmer has
behaved well. There was some excuse in Mortensgaard's case,
because the woman's husband was still alive; so that it was
impossible for them to marry, however much they wished it. But
Mr. Rosmer, he could--ahem!
REBECCA(with a faint smile)
Is it possible that you could think
such things about me and Mr. Rosmer?
Not for a moment--until to-day, I mean.
Broken me utterly. I had a will of my own, and some
courage, when I came here. Now I am crushed under the law of
strangers. I do not think I shall have the courage to begin
anything else in the world after this.
Why not? What do you mean by being crushed under a law--?
Dear friend, do not let us talk about that now--Tell me
what passed between you and Mr. Kroll.
He got together all our old circle of friends at his
house. They convinced me that the work of ennobling men's souls
was not in my line at all. Besides, it is such a hopeless task,
any way. I shall let it alone.
Yes, lying. You have never believed in me. You have never
believed me to be the man to lead the cause to victory.
I have believed that we two together would be equal to
That is not true. You have believed that you could
accomplish something big in life yourself--that you could use me
to further your plans--that I might be useful to you in the
pursuit of your object. That is what you have believed.
ROSMER(sitting down wearily on the couch)
Oh, let me be! I see
the whole thing clearly now. I have been like a glove in your
Listen to me, John. Let us talk this thing over. It will
be for the last time. (Sits down in a chair by the couch.) I had
intended to write to you about it all--when I had gone back north.
But it is much better that you should hear it at once.
Something that you have never suspected. Something that
puts all the rest in its true light.
ROSMER(shaking his head)
I do not understand, at all.
It is quite true that at one time I did play my cards so
as to secure admission to Rosmersholm. My idea was that I should
succeed in doing well for myself here--either in one way or in
another, you understand.
Well, you succeeded in carrying your scheme through, too.
I believe I could have carried anything through--at that
time. For then I still had the courage of a free will. I had no
one else to consider, nothing to turn me from my path. But then
began what has broken down my will and filled the whole of my
life with dread and wretchedness.
What--began? Speak so that I can understand you.
There came over me--a wild, uncontrollable passion--Oh,
Then it was as the outcome of this--and under the
influence of this--that you "acted," as you called it.
It swept over me like a storm over the sea--like one of
the storms we have in winter in the north. They catch you up and
rush you along with them, you know, until their fury is expended.
There is no withstanding them.
So it swept poor unhappy Beata into the mill-race.
Yes--it was like a fight for life between Beata and me at
You proved the strongest of us all at Rosmersholm--
stronger than both Beata and me put together.
I knew you well enough to know that I could not get at
you in any way until you were set free--both in actual
circumstances and in your soul.
But I do not understand you, Rebecca. You--you yourself
and your whole conduct--are an insoluble riddle to me. I am free
now--both in my soul and my circumstances. You are absolutely in
touch with the goal you set before yourself from the beginning.
I have never stood farther from my goal than I do now.
And nevertheless, I say, when yesterday I asked you--urged
you--to become my wife, you cried out that it never could be.
Because Rosmersholm has unnerved me. All the courage has
been sapped out of my will here--crushed out! The time has gone
for me to dare risk anything whatever. I have lost all power of
When it came about that I was living together with you
here, in peace and solitude--when you exchanged all your thoughts
with me unreservedly--your every mood, however tender or intimate--
then the great change happened in me. Little by little, you
understand. Almost imperceptibly--but overwhelmingly in the end,
till it reached the uttermost depths of my soul.
All the other feeling--all that horrible passion that had
drowned my better self--left me entirely. All the violent emotions
that had been roused in me were quelled and silenced. A peace
stole over my soul--a quiet like that of one of our mountain
peaks up under the midnight sun.
Yes, innocence--which is at the root of all joy
and happiness. That was the teaching, you know, that you
wanted to see realised by all the men you were going to raise
up to nobility and happiness.
Ah, do not remind me of that. It was nothing but a
half-dreamt dream, Rebecca--a rash suggestion that I have
no longer any faith in. Human nature cannot be ennobled by
outside influences, believe me.
Not by a tranquil love, do you think?
Yes, that would be a splendid thing-
almost the most glorious thing in life, I think if it were so.
(Moves restlessly.) But how am I ever to clear up the question?-
how am I to get to the bottom of it?
Ah, Rebecca, how can I believe you entirely--you whose
life here has been nothing but continual concealment and
secrecy!--And now you have this new tale to tell. If it is
cloaking some design of yours, tell me so--openly. Perhaps there
is something or other that you hope to gain by that means? I will
gladly do anything that I can for you.
REBECCA(wringing her hands)
Oh, this killing doubt! John, John--!
Yes, I know, dear--it is horrible--but I cannot help it. I
shall never be able to free myself from it--never be able to feel
certain that your love for me is genuine and pure.
But is there nothing in your own heart that bears
witness to the transformation that has taken place in me--and
taken place through your influence, and yours alone!
Ah, my dear, I do not believe any longer in my power to
transform people. I have no belief in myself left at all. I do
not believe either in myself or in you.
REBECCA(looking darkly at him)
How are you going to live out
your life, then?
That is just what I do not know--and cannot imagine. I do
not believe I can live it out. And, moreover, I do not know
anything in the world that would be worth living for.
Life carries a perpetual rebirth with it. Let us hold
fast to it, dear. We shall be finished with it quite soon enough.
ROSMER(getting up restlessly)
Then give me my faith back
again!--my faith in you, Rebecca--my faith in your love! Give me a
proof of it! I must have some proof!
One or two cast-off ideals? You will be doing a good
deed. I am cleaned out, my dear boy, absolutely and entirely.
Did you not succeed in giving your lecture?
No, fair lady. What do you think?--just as I was standing
ready to pour out the contents of my horn in plenty, I made the
painful discovery that I was bankrupt.
But what of all your unwritten works, then?
For five and twenty years I have been like a miser
sitting on his locked money-chest. And then to-day, when I opened
it to take out my treasure--there was nothing there! The mills of
time had ground it into dust. There was not a blessed thing left
of the whole lot.
Hush, hush, hush! Peter Mortensgaard is
Lord and Chieftain of the Future. I have never stood in a more
august presence. Peter Mortensgaard has the power of omnipotence
in him. He can do whatever he wants.
It is true, my boy--because Peter Mortensgaard never
wants to do more than he can. Peter Mortensgaard is capable of
living his life without ideals. And that, believe me, is
precisely the great secret of success in life. It sums up all the
wisdom of the world. Basta!
ROSMER(in a low voice)
Now I see that you are going away from
here poorer than you came.
Bien! Then take an example from your old tutor. Erase
from your mind everything that he imprinted there. Do not build
your castle upon the shifting sand. And look well ahead, and be
sure of your ground, before you build upon the charming creature
who is sweetening your life here.
BRENDEL(taking her gently by the wrist)
That the woman who
loves him shall gladly go out into the kitchen and chop off her
dainty, pink and white little finger--here, just at the middle
joint. Furthermore, that the aforesaid loving woman shall--also
gladly--clip off her incomparably moulded left ear. (Lets her go,
and turns to ROSMER.) Good-bye, John the Victorious!
So did I. But if anything were to happen to me now--
Oh, John, you will live longer than I shall.
I can dispose of my miserable existence as I please, you
What do you mean? You surely are never thinking of--!
Do you think it would be so surprising? After the
pitiful, lamentable defeat I have suffered? I, who was to have
made it my life's work to lead my cause to victory--! And here I
am, a deserter before the fight has even really begun!
Take up the fight again, John! Only try--and you will
see that you will conquer. You will ennoble hundreds--thousands--of
souls. Only try!
I, Rebecca, who no longer believe even in my having a
mission in life?
But your mission has stood the test. You have at all
events ennobled one of your fellow-creatures for the rest of her
life--I mean myself.
REBECCA(wringing her hands)
But, John, do you know of nothing--
nothing--that would make you believe that?
ROSMER(starts, as if with fear)
Don't venture on that subject!
No further, Rebecca! Not a single word more!
Indeed, that is just the subject we must venture upon.
Do you know of anything that would stifle your doubts? For I know
of nothing in the world.
It is best for you not to know. Best for us both.
No, no, no--I have no patience with that sort of thing!
If you know of anything that would acquit me in your eyes, I
claim it as my right that you should name it.
ROSMER(as if impelled against his will)
Well, let us see. You
say that you have great love in your heart; that your soul has
been ennobled through me. Is that so? Have you counted the cost?
Shall we try and balance our accounts? Tell me.
Then let me see, Rebecca, whether you--for my sake-this
very night--. (Breaks off.) Oh, no, no!
Yes, John! Yes, yes! Say it, and you shall see.
Have you the courage--are you willing--gladly, as Ulrik
Brendel said--for my sake, to-night--gladly--to go the same way--that
REBECCA(gets up slowly from the couch, and says almost
Yes, dear--that is the question I shall never be able to
rid my thoughts of, when you have gone away. Every hour of the
day I shall come back to it. Ah, I seem to see you bodily before
me--standing out on the foot-bridge-right out in the middle. Now
you lean out over the railing ! You grow dizzy as you feel drawn
down towards the mill-race! No--you recoil. You dare not do--what
But if I had the courage?--and willingly and gladly? What
Then I would believe in you. Then I should get back my
faith in my mission in life--my faith in my power to ennoble my
fellow men--my faith in mankind's power to be ennobled.
Rebecca (takes up her shawl slowly, throws it over her head. and
says, controlling herself): You shall have your faith back.
Have you the courage and the strength of will for that,
Of that you must judge in the morning--or later--when they
take up my body.
Rosmer (burying his head in his hands)
There is a horrible
temptation in this--!
Because I should not like to be left lying there--any
longer than need be. You must take care that they find me.
But all this is madness, you know. Go
away, or stay! I will believe you on your bare word this time
Those are mere words, John. No more cowardice or
evasion! How can you believe me on my bare word after today?
But I do not want to see your defeat, Rebecca.
There is. But I--after this I should only be like some
sea-sprite hanging on to the barque you are striving to sail
forward in, and, hampering its progress. I must go overboard. Do
you think I could go through the world bearing the burden of a
spoiled life--brooding for ever over the happiness which I have
forfeited by my past? I must throw up the game, John.
Yes. We are one now. Come! We can go gladly now. (They
go out, hand in hand, through the hall, and are seen to turn to
the left. The door stands open after them. The room is empty for
a little while. Then Mrs HELSETH opens the door on the right.)
The carriage, miss, is--. (Looks round the room.)
Not here? Out together at this time of night? Well, well--I must
say--! Hm! (Goes out into the hall, looks round and comes in
again.) Not sitting on the bench--ah, well! (Goes to the window
and looks out.) Good heavens! What is that white thing--! As I am
a living soul, they are both out on the foot-bridge! God forgive
the sinful creatures--if they are not in each other's arms! (Gives
a wild scream.) Ah!--they are over--both of them! Over into the
mill-race! Help! help! (Her knees tremble, she holds on shakily
to the back of a chair and can scarcely get her words out.) No.
No help here. The dead woman has taken them.