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A Doll’s House You will explain in writing(Two pages) the three bullet point- questions on the Act 3 Exercise for A Doll’s House play : What is the play’s crisis or climax? What is Nora’s major discovery? What is Nora’s major reversal?
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A DOLL’S HOUSE
BY
HENRIK IBSEN
1879
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.
This edition was created and published by Global Grey
©GlobalGrey 2017
globalgreyebooks.com
CONTENTS
Dramatis Personae
Act I
Act II
Act III
1
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.]
2
ACT I
[SCENE.–A room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not
extravagantly. At the back, a door to the right leads to the entrancehall, 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!
3
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.
4
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?
5
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
6
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.
7
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.
8
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?
9
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
10
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.
11
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?
12
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.
13
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 …
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