Henrik Ibsen.

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Produced by Martin Adamson





A DOLL'S HOUSE

by Henrik Ibsen




DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Torvald Helmer.
Nora, his wife.
Doctor Rank.
Mrs. Linde.
Nils Krogstad.
Helmer's three young children.
Anne, their nurse.
A Housemaid.
A Porter.
(The action takes place in Helmer's house.)

A DOLL'S HOUSE




ACT I

(SCENE. - A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the
entrance-hall, another to the left leads to Helmer's study. Between the
doors stands a piano. In the middle of the left-hand wall is a door, and
beyond it a window. Near the window are a round table, arm-chairs and
a small sofa. In the right-hand wall, at the farther end, another door;
and on the same side, nearer the footlights, a stove, two easy chairs
and a rocking-chair; between the stove and the door, a small table.
Engravings on the walls; a cabinet with china and other small objects;
a small book-case with well-bound books. The floors are carpeted, and a
fire burns in the stove. It is winter.

A bell rings in the hall; shortly afterwards the door is heard to open.
Enter NORA, humming a tune and in high spirits. She is in outdoor dress
and carries a number of parcels; these she lays on the table to the
right. She leaves the outer door open after her, and through it is seen
a PORTER who is carrying a Christmas Tree and a basket, which he gives
to the MAID who has opened the door.)

Nora. Hide the Christmas Tree carefully, Helen. Be sure the children
do not see it until this evening, when it is dressed. (To the PORTER,
taking out her purse.) How much?

Porter. Sixpence.

Nora. There is a shilling. No, keep the change. (The PORTER thanks her,
and goes out. NORA shuts the door. She is laughing to herself, as she
takes off her hat and coat. She takes a packet of macaroons from her
pocket and eats one or two; then goes cautiously to her husband's door
and listens.) Yes, he is in. (Still humming, she goes to the table on
the right.)

Helmer (calls out from his room). Is that my little lark twittering out
there?

Nora (busy opening some of the parcels). Yes, it is!

Helmer. Is it my little squirrel bustling about?

Nora. Yes!

Helmer. When did my squirrel come home?

Nora. Just now. (Puts the bag of macaroons into her pocket and wipes her
mouth.) Come in here, Torvald, and see what I have bought.

Helmer. Don't disturb me. (A little later, he opens the door and looks
into the room, pen in hand.) Bought, did you say? All these things? Has
my little spendthrift been wasting money again?

Nora. Yes but, Torvald, this year we really can let ourselves go
a little. This is the first Christmas that we have not needed to
economise.

Helmer. Still, you know, we can't spend money recklessly. Nora. Yes,
Torvald, we may be a wee bit more reckless now, mayn't we? Just a tiny
wee bit! You are going to have a big salary and earn lots and lots of
money.

Helmer. Yes, after the New Year; but then it will be a whole quarter
before the salary is due.

Nora. Pooh! we can borrow until then.

Helmer. Nora! (Goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.) The
same little featherhead! Suppose, now, that I borrowed fifty pounds
today, and you spent it all in the Christmas week, and then on New
Year's Eve a slate fell on my head and killed me, and - Nora (putting her
hands over his mouth). Oh! don't say such horrid things.

Helmer. Still, suppose that happened, - what then?

Nora. If that were to happen, I don't suppose I should care whether I
owed money or not.

Helmer. Yes, but what about the people who had lent it?

Nora. They? Who would bother about them? I should not know who they
were.

Helmer. That is like a woman! But seriously, Nora, you know what I think
about that. No debt, no borrowing. There can be no freedom or beauty
about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt. We two have kept
bravely on the straight road so far, and we will go on the same way for
the short time longer that there need be any struggle.

Nora (moving towards the stove). As you please, Torvald.

Helmer (following her). Come, come, my little skylark must not droop her
wings. What is this! Is my little squirrel out of temper? (Taking out
his purse.) Nora, what do you think I have got here?

Nora (turning round quickly). Money!

Helmer. There you are. (Gives her some money.) Do you think I don't know
what a lot is wanted for housekeeping at Christmas-time?

Nora (counting). Ten shillings - a pound - two pounds! Thank you, thank
you, Torvald; that will keep me going for a long time.

Helmer. Indeed it must.

Nora. Yes, yes, it will. But come here and let me show you what I have
bought. And all so cheap! Look, here is a new suit for Ivar, and
a sword; and a horse and a trumpet for Bob; and a doll and dolly's
bedstead for Emmy, - they are very plain, but anyway she will soon break
them in pieces. And here are dress-lengths and handkerchiefs for the
maids; old Anne ought really to have something better.

Helmer. And what is in this parcel?

Nora (crying out). No, no! you mustn't see that until this evening.

Helmer. Very well. But now tell me, you extravagant little person, what
would you like for yourself?

Nora. For myself? Oh, I am sure I don't want anything.

Helmer. Yes, but you must. Tell me something reasonable that you would
particularly like to have.

Nora. No, I really can't think of anything - unless, Torvald -

Helmer. Well?

Nora (playing with his coat buttons, and without raising her eyes to
his). If you really want to give me something, you might - you might -

Helmer. Well, out with it!

Nora (speaking quickly). You might give me money, Torvald. Only just as
much as you can afford; and then one of these days I will buy something
with it.

Helmer. But, Nora -

Nora. Oh, do! dear Torvald; please, please do! Then I will wrap it up in
beautiful gilt paper and hang it on the Christmas Tree. Wouldn't that be
fun?

Helmer. What are little people called that are always wasting money?

Nora. Spendthrifts - I know. Let us do as you suggest, Torvald, and then
I shall have time to think what I am most in want of. That is a very
sensible plan, isn't it?

Helmer (smiling). Indeed it is - that is to say, if you were really to
save out of the money I give you, and then really buy something for
yourself. But if you spend it all on the housekeeping and any number of
unnecessary things, then I merely have to pay up again.

Nora. Oh but, Torvald -

Helmer. You can't deny it, my dear little Nora. (Puts his arm round
her waist.) It's a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of
money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!

Nora. It's a shame to say that. I do really save all I can.

Helmer (laughing). That's very true, - all you can. But you can't save
anything!

Nora (smiling quietly and happily). You haven't any idea how many
expenses we skylarks and squirrels have, Torvald.

Helmer. You are an odd little soul. Very like your father. You always
find some new way of wheedling money out of me, and, as soon as you
have got it, it seems to melt in your hands. You never know where it
has gone. Still, one must take you as you are. It is in the blood; for
indeed it is true that you can inherit these things, Nora.

Nora. Ah, I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities.

Helmer. And I would not wish you to be anything but just what you are,
my sweet little skylark. But, do you know, it strikes me that you are
looking rather - what shall I say - rather uneasy today?

Nora. Do I?

Helmer. You do, really. Look straight at me.

Nora (looks at him). Well?

Helmer (wagging his finger at her). Hasn't Miss Sweet Tooth been
breaking rules in town today?

Nora. No; what makes you think that?

Helmer. Hasn't she paid a visit to the confectioner's?

Nora. No, I assure you, Torvald -

Helmer. Not been nibbling sweets?

Nora. No, certainly not.

Helmer. Not even taken a bite at a macaroon or two?

Nora. No, Torvald, I assure you really -

Helmer. There, there, of course I was only joking.

Nora (going to the table on the right). I should not think of going
against your wishes.

Helmer. No, I am sure of that; besides, you gave me your word - (Going
up to her.) Keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, my darling.
They will all be revealed tonight when the Christmas Tree is lit, no
doubt.

Nora. Did you remember to invite Doctor Rank?

Helmer. No. But there is no need; as a matter of course he will come to
dinner with us. However, I will ask him when he comes in this morning.
I have ordered some good wine. Nora, you can't think how I am looking
forward to this evening.

Nora. So am I! And how the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald!

Helmer. It is splendid to feel that one has a perfectly safe
appointment, and a big enough income. It's delightful to think of, isn't
it?

Nora. It's wonderful!

Helmer. Do you remember last Christmas? For a full three weeks
beforehand you shut yourself up every evening until long after midnight,
making ornaments for the Christmas Tree, and all the other fine things
that were to be a surprise to us. It was the dullest three weeks I ever
spent!

Nora. I didn't find it dull.

Helmer (smiling). But there was precious little result, Nora.

Nora. Oh, you shouldn't tease me about that again. How could I help the
cat's going in and tearing everything to pieces?

Helmer. Of course you couldn't, poor little girl. You had the best of
intentions to please us all, and that's the main thing. But it is a good
thing that our hard times are over.

Nora. Yes, it is really wonderful.

Helmer. This time I needn't sit here and be dull all alone, and you
needn't ruin your dear eyes and your pretty little hands -

Nora (clapping her hands). No, Torvald, I needn't any longer, need I!
It's wonderfully lovely to hear you say so! (Taking his arm.) Now I will
tell you how I have been thinking we ought to arrange things, Torvald.
As soon as Christmas is over - (A bell rings in the hall.) There's the
bell. (She tidies the room a little.) There's some one at the door. What
a nuisance!

Helmer. If it is a caller, remember I am not at home.

Maid (in the doorway). A lady to see you, ma'am, - a stranger.

Nora. Ask her to come in.

Maid (to HELMER). The doctor came at the same time, sir.

Helmer. Did he go straight into my room?

Maid. Yes, sir.

(HELMER goes into his room. The MAID ushers in Mrs. LINDE, who is in
travelling dress, and shuts the door.) Mrs. Linde (in a dejected and
timid voice). How do you do, Nora?

Nora (doubtfully). How do you do - Mrs. Linde. You don't recognise me, I
suppose.

Nora. No, I don't know - yes, to be sure, I seem to - (Suddenly.) Yes!
Christine! Is it really you?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, it is I.

Nora. Christine! To think of my not recognising you! And yet how could
I - (In a gentle voice.) How you have altered, Christine!

Mrs. Linde. Yes, I have indeed. In nine, ten long years -

Nora. Is it so long since we met? I suppose it is. The last eight years
have been a happy time for me, I can tell you. And so now you have come
into the town, and have taken this long journey in winter - that was
plucky of you.

Mrs. Linde. I arrived by steamer this morning.

Nora. To have some fun at Christmas-time, of course. How delightful! We
will have such fun together! But take off your things. You are not cold,
I hope. (Helps her.) Now we will sit down by the stove, and be cosy.
No, take this armchair; I will sit here in the rocking-chair. (Takes
her hands.) Now you look like your old self again; it was only the first
moment - You are a little paler, Christine, and perhaps a little thinner.

Mrs. Linde. And much, much older, Nora.

Nora. Perhaps a little older; very, very little; certainly not much.
(Stops suddenly and speaks seriously.) What a thoughtless creature I am,
chattering away like this. My poor, dear Christine, do forgive me.

Mrs. Linde. What do you mean, Nora?

Nora (gently). Poor Christine, you are a widow.

Mrs. Linde. Yes; it is three years ago now.

Nora. Yes, I knew; I saw it in the papers. I assure you, Christine, I
meant ever so often to write to you at the time, but I always put it off
and something always prevented me.

Mrs. Linde. I quite understand, dear.

Nora. It was very bad of me, Christine. Poor thing, how you must have
suffered. And he left you nothing?

Mrs. Linde. No.

Nora. And no children?

Mrs. Linde. No.

Nora. Nothing at all, then.

Mrs. Linde. Not even any sorrow or grief to live upon.

Nora (looking incredulously at her). But, Christine, is that possible?

Mrs. Linde (smiles sadly and strokes her hair). It sometimes happens,
Nora.

Nora. So you are quite alone. How dreadfully sad that must be. I have
three lovely children. You can't see them just now, for they are out
with their nurse. But now you must tell me all about it.

Mrs. Linde. No, no; I want to hear about you.

Nora. No, you must begin. I mustn't be selfish today; today I must only
think of your affairs. But there is one thing I must tell you. Do you
know we have just had a great piece of good luck?

Mrs. Linde. No, what is it?

Nora. Just fancy, my husband has been made manager of the Bank!

Mrs. Linde. Your husband? What good luck!

Nora. Yes, tremendous! A barrister's profession is such an uncertain
thing, especially if he won't undertake unsavoury cases; and naturally
Torvald has never been willing to do that, and I quite agree with him.
You may imagine how pleased we are! He is to take up his work in the
Bank at the New Year, and then he will have a big salary and lots of
commissions. For the future we can live quite differently - we can do
just as we like. I feel so relieved and so happy, Christine! It will be
splendid to have heaps of money and not need to have any anxiety, won't
it?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, anyhow I think it would be delightful to have what one
needs.

Nora. No, not only what one needs, but heaps and heaps of money.

Mrs. Linde (smiling). Nora, Nora, haven't you learned sense yet? In our
schooldays you were a great spendthrift.

Nora (laughing). Yes, that is what Torvald says now. (Wags her finger at
her.) But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you think. We have not been in
a position for me to waste money. We have both had to work.

Mrs. Linde. You too?

Nora. Yes; odds and ends, needlework, crotchet-work, embroidery, and
that kind of thing. (Dropping her voice.) And other things as well. You
know Torvald left his office when we were married? There was no prospect
of promotion there, and he had to try and earn more than before. But
during the first year he over-worked himself dreadfully. You see, he had
to make money every way he could, and he worked early and late; but he
couldn't stand it, and fell dreadfully ill, and the doctors said it was
necessary for him to go south.

Mrs. Linde. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you?

Nora. Yes. It was no easy matter to get away, I can tell you. It
was just after Ivar was born; but naturally we had to go. It was a
wonderfully beautiful journey, and it saved Torvald's life. But it cost
a tremendous lot of money, Christine.

Mrs. Linde. So I should think.

Nora. It cost about two hundred and fifty pounds. That's a lot, isn't
it?

Mrs. Linde. Yes, and in emergencies like that it is lucky to have the
money.

Nora. I ought to tell you that we had it from papa.

Mrs. Linde. Oh, I see. It was just about that time that he died, wasn't
it?

Nora. Yes; and, just think of it, I couldn't go and nurse him. I was
expecting little Ivar's birth every day and I had my poor sick Torvald
to look after. My dear, kind father - I never saw him again, Christine.
That was the saddest time I have known since our marriage.

Mrs. Linde. I know how fond you were of him. And then you went off to
Italy?

Nora. Yes; you see we had money then, and the doctors insisted on our
going, so we started a month later.

Mrs. Linde. And your husband came back quite well?

Nora. As sound as a bell!

Mrs. Linde. But - the doctor?

Nora. What doctor?

Mrs. Linde. I thought your maid said the gentleman who arrived here just
as I did, was the doctor?

Nora. Yes, that was Doctor Rank, but he doesn't come here
professionally. He is our greatest friend, and comes in at least once
every day. No, Torvald has not had an hour's illness since then, and our
children are strong and healthy and so am I. (Jumps up and claps her
hands.) Christine! Christine! it's good to be alive and happy! - But how
horrid of me; I am talking of nothing but my own affairs. (Sits on a
stool near her, and rests her arms on her knees.) You mustn't be angry
with me. Tell me, is it really true that you did not love your husband?
Why did you marry him?

Mrs. Linde. My mother was alive then, and was bedridden and helpless,
and I had to provide for my two younger brothers; so I did not think I
was justified in refusing his offer.

Nora. No, perhaps you were quite right. He was rich at that time, then?

Mrs. Linde. I believe he was quite well off. But his business was a
precarious one; and, when he died, it all went to pieces and there was
nothing left.

Nora. And then? -

Mrs. Linde. Well, I had to turn my hand to anything I could find - first
a small shop, then a small school, and so on. The last three years have
seemed like one long working-day, with no rest. Now it is at an end,
Nora. My poor mother needs me no more, for she is gone; and the boys
do not need me either; they have got situations and can shift for
themselves.

Nora. What a relief you must feel if -

Mrs. Linde. No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one to
live for anymore. (Gets up restlessly.) That was why I could not stand
the life in my little backwater any longer. I hope it may be easier here
to find something which will busy me and occupy my thoughts. If only I
could have the good luck to get some regular work - office work of some
kind -

Nora. But, Christine, that is so frightfully tiring, and you look tired
out now. You had far better go away to some watering-place.

Mrs. Linde (walking to the window). I have no father to give me money
for a journey, Nora.

Nora (rising). Oh, don't be angry with me!

Mrs. Linde (going up to her). It is you that must not be angry with me,
dear. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so bitter.
No one to work for, and yet obliged to be always on the lookout for
chances. One must live, and so one becomes selfish. When you told me of
the happy turn your fortunes have taken - you will hardly believe it - I
was delighted not so much on your account as on my own.

Nora. How do you mean? - Oh, I understand. You mean that perhaps Torvald
could get you something to do.

Mrs. Linde. Yes, that was what I was thinking of.

Nora. He must, Christine. Just leave it to me; I will broach the subject
very cleverly - I will think of something that will please him very much.
It will make me so happy to be of some use to you.

Mrs. Linde. How kind you are, Nora, to be so anxious to help me! It is
doubly kind in you, for you know so little of the burdens and troubles
of life.

Nora. I - ? I know so little of them?

Mrs. Linde (smiling). My dear! Small household cares and that sort of
thing! - You are a child, Nora.

Nora (tosses her head and crosses the stage). You ought not to be so
superior.

Mrs. Linde. No?

Nora. You are just like the others. They all think that I am incapable
of anything really serious -

Mrs. Linde. Come, come -

Nora. - that I have gone through nothing in this world of cares.

Mrs. Linde. But, my dear Nora, you have just told me all your troubles.

Nora. Pooh! - those were trifles. (Lowering her voice.) I have not told
you the important thing.

Mrs. Linde. The important thing? What do you mean?

Nora. You look down upon me altogether, Christine - but you ought not to.
You are proud, aren't you, of having worked so hard and so long for your
mother?

Mrs. Linde. Indeed, I don't look down on anyone. But it is true that I
am both proud and glad to think that I was privileged to make the end of
my mother's life almost free from care.

Nora. And you are proud to think of what you have done for your
brothers?

Mrs. Linde. I think I have the right to be.

Nora. I think so, too. But now, listen to this; I too have something to
be proud and glad of.

Mrs. Linde. I have no doubt you have. But what do you refer to?

Nora. Speak low. Suppose Torvald were to hear! He mustn't on any
account - no one in the world must know, Christine, except you.

Mrs. Linde. But what is it?

Nora. Come here. (Pulls her down on the sofa beside her.) Now I will
show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who
saved Torvald's life.

Mrs. Linde. "Saved"? How?

Nora. I told you about our trip to Italy. Torvald would never have
recovered if he had not gone there -

Mrs. Linde. Yes, but your father gave you the necessary funds.

Nora (smiling). Yes, that is what Torvald and all the others think,
but -

Mrs. Linde. But -

Nora. Papa didn't give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money.

Mrs. Linde. You? All that large sum?

Nora. Two hundred and fifty pounds. What do you think of that?

Mrs. Linde. But, Nora, how could you possibly do it? Did you win a prize
in the Lottery?

Nora (contemptuously). In the Lottery? There would have been no credit
in that.

Mrs. Linde. But where did you get it from, then? Nora (humming and
smiling with an air of mystery). Hm, hm! Aha!

Mrs. Linde. Because you couldn't have borrowed it.

Nora. Couldn't I? Why not?

Mrs. Linde. No, a wife cannot borrow without her husband's consent.

Nora (tossing her head). Oh, if it is a wife who has any head for
business - a wife who has the wit to be a little bit clever -

Mrs. Linde. I don't understand it at all, Nora.

Nora. There is no need you should. I never said I had borrowed the
money. I may have got it some other way. (Lies back on the sofa.)
Perhaps I got it from some other admirer. When anyone is as attractive
as I am -

Mrs. Linde. You are a mad creature.

Nora. Now, you know you're full of curiosity, Christine.

Mrs. Linde. Listen to me, Nora dear. Haven't you been a little bit
imprudent?

Nora (sits up straight). Is it imprudent to save your husband's life?

Mrs. Linde. It seems to me imprudent, without his knowledge, to -

Nora. But it was absolutely necessary that he should not know! My
goodness, can't you understand that? It was necessary he should have no
idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors
came and said that his life was in danger, and that the only thing to
save him was to live in the south. Do you suppose I didn't try, first of
all, to get what I wanted as if it were for myself? I told him how much
I should love to travel abroad like other young wives; I tried tears and
entreaties with him; I told him that he ought to remember the condition
I was in, and that he ought to be kind and indulgent to me; I even
hinted that he might raise a loan. That nearly made him angry,
Christine. He said I was thoughtless, and that it was his duty as my
husband not to indulge me in my whims and caprices - as I believe he
called them. Very well, I thought, you must be saved - and that was how I
came to devise a way out of the difficulty -

Mrs. Linde. And did your husband never get to know from your father that
the money had not come from him?

Nora. No, never. Papa died just at that time. I had meant to let him
into the secret and beg him never to reveal it. But he was so ill
then - alas, there never was any need to tell him.

Mrs. Linde. And since then have you never told your secret to your
husband?

Nora. Good Heavens, no! How could you think so? A man who has such
strong opinions about these things! And besides, how painful and
humiliating it would be for Torvald, with his manly independence, to
know that he owed me anything! It would upset our mutual relations
altogether; our beautiful happy home would no longer be what it is now.

Mrs. Linde. Do you mean never to tell him about it?

Nora (meditatively, and with a half smile). Yes - someday, perhaps, after
many years, when I am no longer as nice-looking as I am now. Don't laugh
at me! I mean, of course, when Torvald is no longer as devoted to me as
he is now; when my dancing and dressing-up and reciting have palled on
him; then it may be a good thing to have something in reserve - (Breaking


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