(THE SAME SCENE.--The table has been placed in the middle of the
stage, with chairs around it. A lamp is burning on the table. The
door into the hall stands open. Dance music is heard in the room
above. Mrs. LINDE is sitting at the table idly turning over the
leaves of a book; she tries to read, but does not seem able to
collect her thoughts. Every now and then she listens intently for
a sound at the outer door.)
LINDE (looking at her watch). Not yet--and the time is
nearly up. If only he does not--. (Listens again.) Ah, there he is.
(Goes into the hall and opens the outer door carefully.
Light 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 home. What
does this mean?
It is absolutely necessary that I should have a talk
Really? And is it absolutely necessary that it should
It is impossible where I live; there is no private
entrance to my rooms. Come in; we are quite alone. The maid is
asleep, and the Helmers are at the dance upstairs.
KROGSTAD. (coming into the room).
Are the Helmers really at a
I could not endure life without work. All my life, as
long as I can remember, I have worked, and it has been my greatest
and only pleasure. But now I am quite alone in the world--my life
is so dreadfully empty and I feel so forsaken. There is not the
least pleasure in working for one's self. Nils, give me someone and
something to work for.
I don't trust that. It is nothing but a woman's
overstrained sense of generosity that prompts you to make such an
offer of yourself.
Have you ever noticed anything of the sort in me?
Could you really do it? Tell me--do you know all about
my past life?
Yes, of course I will. I will wait here until Helmer
comes; I will tell him he must give me my letter back--that it
only concerns my dismissal--that he is not to read it--
No, Nils, you must not recall your letter.
But, tell me, wasn't it for that very purpose that you
asked me to meet you here?
In my first moment of fright, it was. But twenty-four
hours have elapsed since then, and in that time I have witnessed
incredible things in this house. Helmer must know all about it.
This unhappy secret must be disclosed; they must have a complete
understanding between them, which is impossible with all this
concealment and falsehood going on.
Very well, if you will take the responsibility. But
there is one thing I can do in any case, and I shall do it at
LINDE (listening). You must be quick and go! The dance is
over; we are not safe a moment longer.
Yes, do. You must see me back to my door...
I have never had such an amazing piece of good fortune
in my life! (Goes out through the outer door. The door between
the room and the hall remains open.)
LINDE (tidying up the room and laying her hat and cloak
ready). What a difference! what a difference! Someone to work
for and live for--a home to bring comfort into. That I will do,
indeed. I wish they would be quick and come--(Listens.) Ah, there
they are now. I must put on my things. (Takes up her hat and
cloak. HELMER'S and NORA'S voices are heard outside; a key is
turned, and HELMER brings NORA almost by force into the hall. She
is in an Italian costume with a large black shawl around her; he
is in evening dress, and a black domino which is flying open.)
NORA. (hanging back in the doorway, and struggling with him).
no, no!--don't take me in. I want to go upstairs again; I don't
want to leave so early.
Please, Torvald dear--please, please--only an hour more.
Not a single minute, my sweet Nora. You know that was our
agreement. Come along into the room; you are catching cold
standing there. (He brings her gently into the room, in spite of
Doesn't she look remarkably pretty? Everyone thought so
at the dance. But she is terribly self-willed, this sweet little
person. What are we to do with her? You will hardly believe that
I had almost to bring her away by force.
Torvald, you will repent not having let me stay, even if it
were only for half an hour.
Listen to her, Mrs. Linde! She had danced her Tarantella,
and it had been a tremendous success, as it deserved--although
possibly the performance was a trifle too realistic--a little
more so, I mean, than was strictly compatible with the limitations
of art. But never mind about that! The chief thing is, she had made
a success--she had made a tremendous success. Do you think I was going
to let her remain there after that, and spoil the effect? No, indeed!
I took my charming little Capri maiden--my capricious little
Capri maiden, I should say--on my arm; took one quick turn
round the room; a curtsey on either side, and, as they say in
novels, the beautiful apparition disappeared. An exit ought always
to be effective, Mrs. Linde; but that is what I cannot make Nora
understand. Pooh! this room is hot. (Throws his domino on a
chair, and opens the door of his room.) Hullo! it's all dark
in here. Oh, of course--excuse me--. (He goes in, and lights
NORA. (in a hurried and breathless whisper).
LINDE (in a low voice). I have had a talk with him.
But in the case of knitting--that can never be anything
but ungraceful; look here--the arms close together, the knitting-
needles going up and down--it has a sort of Chinese effect--.
That was really excellent champagne they gave us.
Well,--goodnight, Nora, and don't be self-willed any
HELMER. (accompanying her to the door).
Goodnight, goodnight. I
hope you will get home all right. I should be very happy to--but
you haven't any great distance to go. Goodnight, goodnight.
(She goes out; he shuts the door after her, and comes in again.)
Ah!--at last we have got rid of her. She is a frightful bore,
HELMER. (kissing her on the forehead).
Now my little skylark is
speaking reasonably. Did you notice what good spirits Rank was in
Really? Was he? I didn't speak to him at all.
And I very little, but I have not for a long time seen
him in such good form. (Looks for a while at her and then goes
nearer to her.) It is delightful to be at home by ourselves again,
to be all alone with you--you fascinating, charming little darling!
Why shouldn't I look at my dearest treasure?--at all the
beauty that is mine, all my very own?
NORA. (going to the other side of the table).
You mustn't say
things like that to me tonight.
HELMER. (following her).
You have still got the Tarantella in your
blood, I see. And it makes you more captivating than ever.
Listen--the guests are beginning to go now. (In a lower voice.)
Nora--soon the whole house will be quiet.
Yes, my own darling Nora. Do you know, when I am out at a
party with you like this, why I speak so little to you, keep away
from you, and only send a stolen glance in your direction now and
then?--do you know why I do that? It is because I make believe to
myself that we are secretly in love, and you are my secretly
promised bride, and that no one suspects there is anything between us.
Yes, yes--I know very well your thoughts are with me all
And when we are leaving, and I am putting the shawl over
your beautiful young shoulders--on your lovely neck--then I imagine
that you are my young bride and that we have just come from the
wedding, and I am bringing you for the first time into our
home--to be alone with you for the first time--quite alone with
my shy little darling! All this evening I have longed for nothing
but you. When I watched the seductive figures of the Tarantella,
my blood was on fire; I could endure it no longer, and that was
why I brought you down so early--
Go away, Torvald! You must let me go. I won't--
What's that? You're joking, my little Nora! You won't--
you won't? Am I not your husband--? (A knock is heard at the
Yes, someone has. What can it mean? I should never have
thought the maid--. Here is a broken hairpin. Nora, it is one of
Then it must have been the children--
Then you must get them out of those ways. There, at last
I have got it open. (Takes out the contents of the letter-box,
and calls to the kitchen.) Helen!--Helen, put out the light over
the front door. (Goes back into the room and shuts the door into
the hall. He holds out his hand full of letters.) Look at that--
look what a heap of them there are. (Turning them over.) What on
earth is that?
NORA. (at the window).
The letter--No! Torvald, no!
What? Do you know anything about it? Has he said anything
Yes. He told me that when the cards came it would be his
leave-taking from us. He means to shut himself up and die.
My poor old friend! Certainly I knew we should not have
him very long with us. But so soon! And so he hides himself away
like a wounded animal.
If it has to happen, it is best it should be without a
word--don't you think so, Torvald?
HELMER. (walking up and down).
He had so grown into our lives. I
can't think of him as having gone out of them. He, with his
sufferings and his loneliness, was like a cloudy background to
our sunlit happiness. Well, perhaps it is best so. For him,
anyway. (Standing still.) And perhaps for us too, Nora. We
two are thrown quite upon each other now. (Puts his arms round
her.) My darling wife, I don't feel as if I could hold you tight
enough. Do you know, Nora, I have often wished that you might be
threatened by some great danger, so that I might risk my life's
blood, and everything, for your sake.
NORA. (disengages herself, and says firmly and decidedly).
must read your letters, Torvald.
No, no; not tonight. I want to be with you, my darling wife.
You are right, it has affected us both. Something ugly
has come between us--the thought of the horrors of death.
We must try and rid our minds of that. Until then--we will
each go to our own room.
NORA. (hanging on his neck).
HELMER. (kissing her on the forehead).
Goodnight, my little
singing-bird. Sleep sound, Nora. Now I will read my letters
through. (He takes his letters and goes into his room, shutting
the door after him.)
NORA (gropes distractedly about, seizes HELMER'S domino, throws
it round her, while she says in quick, hoarse, spasmodic
Never to see him again. Never! Never! (Puts her shawl
over her head.) Never to see my children again either--never
again. Never! Never!--Ah! the icy, black water--the unfathomable
depths--If only it were over! He has got it now--now he is reading
it. Goodbye, Torvald and my children! (She is about to rush out
through the hall, when HELMER opens his door hurriedly and stands
with an open letter in his hand.)
Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You shall not
take it upon yourself.
No tragic airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here you
shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you
have done? Answer me! Do you understand what you have done?
NORA (looks steadily at him and says with a growing look of
coldness in her face).
Yes, now I am beginning to understand
HELMER. (walking about the room).
What a horrible awakening! All
these eight years--she who was my joy and pride--a hypocrite, a
liar--worse, worse--a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it
all!--For shame! For shame! (NORA is silent and looks steadily at
him. He stops in front of her.) I ought to have suspected that
something of the sort would happen. I ought to have foreseen it.
All your father's want of principle--be silent!--all your father's
want of principle has come out in you. No religion, no morality,
no sense of duty--. How I am punished for having winked at what he did!
I did it for your sake, and this is how you repay me.
Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined
all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of
an unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything
he likes of me, give me any orders he pleases--I dare not refuse.
And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!
No fine speeches, please. Your father had always plenty
of those ready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out
of the way, as you say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair
known everywhere; and if he does, I may be falsely suspected of
having been a party to your criminal action. Very likely people
will think I was behind it all--that it was I who prompted you!
And I have to thank you for all this--you whom I have cherished
during the whole of our married life. Do you understand now what
it is you have done for me?
It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must
come to some understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I
tell you. I must try and appease him some way or another. The
matter must be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it
must appear as if everything between us were just as before--but
naturally only in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in
my house, that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you
to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To think
that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so
dearly, and whom I still--. No, that is all over. From this moment
happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the
remains, the fragments, the appearance--
HELMER. (standing by the lamp).
I scarcely have the courage to do
it. It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must know. (Tears open
the letter, runs his eye over a few lines, looks at a paper
enclosed, and gives a shout of joy.) Nora! (She looks at him
questioningly.) Nora!--No, I must read it once again--. Yes, it
is true! I am saved! Nora, I am saved!
You too, of course; we are both saved, both you and I.
Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he regrets and repents--
that a happy change in his life--never mind what he says! We
are saved, Nora! No one can do anything to you. Oh, Nora,
Nora!--no, first I must destroy these hateful things. Let
me see--. (Takes a look at the bond.) No, no, I won't look
at it. The whole thing shall be nothing but a bad dream to
me. (Tears up the bond and both letters, throws them all
into the stove, and watches them burn.) There--now it doesn't
exist any longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you--.
These must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.
I have fought a hard fight these three days.
And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but--. No, we
won't call any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with
joy, and keep saying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to
me, Nora. You don't seem to realise that it is all over. What is
this?--such a cold, set face! My poor little Nora, I quite
understand; you don't feel as if you could believe that I have
forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven
you everything. I know that what you did, you did out of love for me.
You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only
you had not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But
do you suppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't
understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean
on me; I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if
this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double
attractiveness in my eyes. You must not think anymore about the
hard things I said in my first moment of consternation, when
I thought everything was going to overwhelm me. I have forgiven
you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgiven you.
Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out through the
door to the right.)
No, don't go--. (Looks in.) What are you doing in there?
HELMER. (standing at the open door).
Yes, do. Try and calm yourself,
and make your mind easy again, my frightened little singing-bird. Be
at rest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under.
(Walks up and down by the door.) How warm and cosy our home is,
NORA. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect you like a
hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring
peace to your poor beating heart. It will come, little by little,
Nora, believe me. Tomorrow morning you will look upon it all quite
differently; soon everything will be just as it was before.
Very soon you won't need me to assure you that I have forgiven
you; you will yourself feel the certainty that I have done so.
Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing as
repudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no
idea what a true man's heart is like, Nora. There is something so
indescribably sweet and satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge
that he has forgiven his wife--forgiven her freely, and with all
his heart. It seems as if that had made her, as it were, doubly
his own; he has given her a new life, so to speak; and she has
in a way become both wife and child to him. So you shall be for
me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have no
anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me,
and I will serve as will and conscience both to you--. What
is this? Not gone to bed? Have you changed your things?
NORA. (in everyday dress).
Yes, Torvald, I have changed my things now.
Sit down. It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over
HELMER. (sits down at the opposite side of the table).
me, Nora!--and I don't understand you.
No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have
never understood you either--before tonight. No, you mustn't
interrupt me. You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald,
this is a settling of accounts.
It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with
papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I
had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I
concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it.
He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just
as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to
live with you--
What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?
I mean that I was simply transferred from
papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything according to
your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as your else I
pretended to, I am really not quite sure which--I think
sometimes the one and sometimes the other. When I look back
on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a
poor woman--just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely
to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it
so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me.
It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.
How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have
you not been happy here?
No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has
never really been so.
No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me.
But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been
your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and
here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun
when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun
when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.
There is some truth in what you say--exaggerated and
strained as your view of it is. But for the future it shall be
different. Playtime shall be over, and lesson-time shall begin.
Didn't you say so yourself a little while ago--that you
dare not trust me to bring them up?
In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed to that?
Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for the
task. There is another task I must undertake first. I must
try and educate myself--you are not the man to help me in
that. I must do that for myself. And that is why I am
going to leave you now.
Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.
I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all
else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are--or, at all
events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well,
Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that
views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no
longer content myself with what most people say, or with
what is found in books. I must think over things for myself
and get to understand them.
Can you not understand your place in your own home?
Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as that?--have
you no religion?
I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is.
I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went
to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that,
and the other. When I am away from all this, and am alone,
I will look into that matter too. I will see if what the
clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is true for me.
This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion
cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I
suppose you have some moral sense? Or--answer me--am I to think you
I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question to answer.
I really don't know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only
know that you and I look at it in quite a different light.
I am learning, too, that the law is quite another thing from
what I supposed; but I find it impossible to convince myself
that the law is right. According to it a woman has no right
to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband's
life. I can't believe that.
You talk like a child. You don't understand the
conditions of the world in which you live.
No, I don't. But now I am going to try. I am going
to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I.
You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you
are out of your mind.
I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.
And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake
your husband and your children?
It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always been
so kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.
HELMER. (regaining his composure).
Is that a clear and certain
Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I
will not stay here any longer.
And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit your love?
Yes, indeed I can. It was tonight, when the wonderful thing did not
happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you were.
Explain yourself better. I don't understand you.
I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness
knows, I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every
day. Then this horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt
quite certain that the wonderful thing was going to happen at last.
When Krogstad's letter was lying out there, never for a moment
did I imagine that you would consent to accept this man's
conditions. I was so absolutely certain that you would say
to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that was done--
Yes, what then?--when I had exposed my wife to shame and
When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would
come forward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the
You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice
on your part? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have
been worth against yours? That was the wonderful thing which I
hoped for and feared; and it was to prevent that, that I wanted
to kill myself.
I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora--bear
sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his
honour for the one he loves.
It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.
Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.
Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I
could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over--and it
was not fear for what threatened me, but for what might happen
to you--when the whole thing was past, as far as you were
concerned it was exactly as if nothing at all had happened.
Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your doll,
which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care,
because it was so brittle and fragile. (Getting up.)
Torvald--it was then it dawned upon me that for eight
years I had been living here with a strange man, and had
borne him three children--. Oh, I can't bear to think
of it! I could tear myself into little bits!
I see, I see. An abyss has opened between us--there
is no denying it. But, Nora, would it not be possible to fill it up?
NORA. (putting on her cloak).
I cannot spend the night in a
strange man's room.
But can't we live here like brother and sister--?
NORA. (putting on her hat).
You know very well that would not last
long. (Puts the shawl round her.) Goodbye, Torvald. I won't see
the little ones. I know they are in better hands than mine. As
I am now, I can be of no use to them.
How can I tell? I have no idea what is going to become of me.
But you are my wife, whatever becomes of you.
Listen, Torvald. I have heard that when a wife deserts her
husband's house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all
obligations towards her. In any case, I set you free from all your
obligations. You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest
way, any more than I shall. There must be perfect freedom on
both sides. See, here is your ring back. Give me mine.
That's right. Now it is all over. I have put the keys here.
The maids know all about everything in the house--better than I do.
Tomorrow, after I have left her, Christine will come here and
pack up my own things that I brought with me from home. I will
have them sent after me.
All over! All over!--Nora, shall you never think of me again?
I know I shall often think of you, the children, and this house.
Both you and I would have to be so changed that--. Oh, Torvald,
I don't believe any longer in wonderful things happening.
But I will believe in it. Tell me! So changed that--?
That our life together would be a real wedlock. Goodbye.
(She goes out through the hall.)
HELMER (sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in
Nora! Nora! (Looks round, and rises.) Empty. She is gone. (A hope
flashes across his mind.) The most wonderful thing of all--?
(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)