(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
At last I have found the box with the fancy dress.
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.
But I suppose your daughter has quite forgotten you.
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.
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.
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
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.)
Oh, it's you, Christine. There is no one else out there, is
there? How good of you to come!
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
I see; you are going to keep up the character.
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
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
LINDE (goes on sewing. A short silence). Does Doctor Rank
come here everyday?
Everyday regularly. He is Torvald's most intimate friend,
and a great friend of mine too. He is just like one of the family.
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?
Not in the least. What makes you think that?
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--?
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.
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.
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
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
Splendid! But don't you think it is nice of me, too, to do
as you wish?
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.
I would play the fairy and dance for you in the moonlight,
Nora--you surely don't mean that request you made to me
NORA. (going near him).
Yes, Torvald, I beg you so earnestly--
Have you really the courage to open up that question again?
Yes, dear, you must do as I ask; you must let Krogstad keep
his post in the bank.
My dear Nora, it is his post that I have arranged Mrs.
Linde shall have.
Yes, you have been awfully kind about that; but you could
just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.
This is simply incredible obstinacy! Because you chose to
give him a thoughtless promise that you would speak for him, I am
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--
Ah, I understand; it is recollections of the past that
Naturally you are thinking of your father.
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
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.
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--
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--
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
NORA. (recovering herself).
You will never have to do that.
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.)
Good day, Doctor Rank. I knew your ring. But you mustn't
go in to Torvald now; I think he is busy with something.
It was such a strange way of putting it. Is anything likely
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.
(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?
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.
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-
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.
You are quite absurd today. And I wanted you so much to be
in a really good humour.
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
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?
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.
(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.
I really can't, Doctor Rank. It is something out of all
reason; it means advice, and help, and a favour--
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?
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.
(leaning towards her). Nora--do you think he is the only
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.
(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.
To have loved you as much as anyone else does? Was that
No, but to go and tell me so. There was really no need--
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?
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.
Well, at all events you know now that you can command me,
body and soul. So won't you speak out?
Yes, yes. You mustn't punish me in that way. Let me have
permission to do for you whatever a man may do.
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?
Not a bit. But perhaps I had better go--for ever?
No, indeed, you shall not. Of course you must come here
just as before. You know very well Torvald can't do without you.
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.
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
If you please, ma'am. (Whispers and hands her a card.)
NORA. (glancing at the card).
Oh! (Puts it in her pocket.)
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.
You know, I suppose, that I have got my dismissal.
I couldn't prevent it, Mr. Krogstad. I fought as hard as I
could on your side, but it was no good.
Does your husband love you so little, then? He knows
what I can expose you to, and yet he ventures--
How can you suppose that he has any knowledge of the sort?
I didn't suppose so at all. It would not be the least
like our dear Torvald Helmer to show so much courage--
Mr. Krogstad, a little respect for my husband, please.
Certainly--all 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?
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.
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.
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
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--
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.
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.)
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
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.
LINDE (throwing the dress down on the sofa). What is the
matter with you? You look so agitated!
Come here. Do you see that letter? There, look--you can see
it through the glass in the letter-box.
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.
I will, indeed. But I don't understand all this.
How should you understand it? A wonderful thing is going
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?
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.)
Torvald, please don't. There is nothing there.
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!
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?
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.
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. (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.)
LINDE (standing as if spell-bound in the doorway). Oh!--
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.
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!