A Doll's House


Setting: A pleasant, tastefully but not expensively furnished living room. There is a door leading to the front hall, another door to a study. There is a piano.

Act One: The doorbell rings, and Nora enters, humming cheerfully. She carries several packages, which she puts down. A porter gives a Christmas tree and basket to the maid, who has let him in. Helmer hears Nora and asks if his little lark is twittering there. She is eating macaroons. Helmer enters, and asks if the little wastrel has been throwing money around again. Nora says that this Christmas they can be extravagant. When they speak about debts, Helmer speaks down to her. Helmer gives her money. Nora shows Helmer the presents she bought: clothes for Ivar, a sword for Emmy, and a horse and trumpet for Bob. She feels bad that Anne-Marie isn't getting more. Helmer mentions that she is funny, just like her father. She is always looking for ways to get money, but as soon as she does it runs through her fingers. She thinks it is hereditary. Helmer notices that she has been eating macaroons, but she playfully denies it. Helmer says that he is glad that the bad times are behind them. A lady, Kristine Linde, and Dr. Rank both arrive simultaneously. Helmer and Dr. Rank go to the study. Nora is surprised to see Mrs. Linde; she has changed a great deal in the ten years since they last met. Mrs. Linde lost her husband. Nora wants to know about Mrs. Linde, but she insists that Nora tell her story. Nora says that Helmer has been made manager of the Mutual Bank. Nora tries to stop Mrs. Linde's subtle criticisms by saying that she works- sewing, crocheting, embroidery. Nora says about how early in her marriage, Helmer became overworked during a government job (he had to take other jobs as well) and became seriously ill. Then they spent a year in Italy. It took a lot of money: twelve hundred dollars- 4800 crowns. She was pregnant at the time. Mrs. Linde wonders about Dr. Rank, but Nora says that he visits only as a family friend. Mrs. Linde says that when her husband died, she had to manage things the best she could, but now her mother died and her boys are on their own. She feels empty, and wants a job. Nora tells her to go to a resort, but Mrs. Linde says that she doesn't have a Daddy who could support her. Mrs. Linde asks Nora to have Helmer give her a job, and insinuates that Nora has known so little trouble. Nora then tells her that she saved Nora's life by raising the entire amount of money. She borrowed it, and told Helmer that her father gave her the money. He died that week. Helmer still does not know the truth. Nora says that she will tell him some day. Nora elaborates how she skimped to put the money away for the loan. She says that many times she imagined that a rich old gentlemen fell in love with her and dead, leaving her everything. Nils Krogstad comes, looking for Helmer for bank business. He is a lawyer whom Mrs. Linde knows (he clerked for a while in her part of the country). Krogstad goes to see Helmer as Rank leaves. Nora introduces him to Mrs. Linde. She tells him that she has come looking for a job. They banter a bit. Rank mentions how Krogstad has a decayed moral character. Rank tells Nora that Krogstad had a job at the Mutual Bank. He is the type of person who is running around always trying to sniff out cases of moral decrepitude. Nora thinks something is amusing that all the employees at the bank from now on will be dependent on Torvald. Nora offers Rank a macaroon, and says that Mrs. Linde gave her some. Nora wants to curse with Helmer around. Nora introduces Helmer to Mrs. Linde, and says how she is an absolutely fantastic secretary and is in need of a job. Helmer offers her a position. All exit but Nora. Anne-Marie brings the children in, and she babies them. She calls them "sweet doll babies" Krogstad wants to speak with Nora. He tells her that he saw Helmer with a woman (Mrs. Linde), insinuating that the two were having an affair. Krogstad implores Nora to use her influence on his behalf. Mrs. Linde was hired for his job. Krogstad vows to fight for his job at the bank. He wants to tell Helmer about Nora borrowing the money, but Nora says that it will merely backfire on him. However, Krogstad knows that she forged her father's signature, for it was dated October 2, when he died September 29. She admits to writnig her father's name. She tells him that she hated all the difficulties he put her through. He threatens to have her arrested. After he leaves, she tells the children not to tell Helmer about Krogstad's visit. Nora panics. Helmer arrives, and asks if anybody has been there. She says no, even though he saw Krogsatd leave. Nora says that she is looking forward to the Stenborgs' costume party. Nora asks Helmer to help her decide what to wear. Helmer says that Krogstad's crime was forgery. Helmer asks Nora to imagine how a guilty person has to lie wherever he goes, putting on a mask before everybody. Helmer says that it is often hereditary. Anne-Marie enters, and tells Nora that the children want to be with her. She denies them. She worries that she could be corrupting her children.

Act Two: Nora is restless. It is Christmas. She checks teh mailbox. Anne-Marie brings Nora her costume, which is slightly damaged. Nora asks Anne-Marie if the children would miss her if she were gone. Nora says that tomorrow Helmer and she are going to a costume party upstairs, and she will go as a Neopolitan fisher girl and dance the tarantella. Nora says that Dr. Rank's spine is rotting away from (she thinks) tuberculosis. It is the result of his father's STD. Mrs. Linde comes, and asks about Dr. Rank. She thinks that he is the rich man who loaned Nora the money. Nora asks if one gets the I.O.U. back after one pays off all she owes. Mrs. Linde leaves, and Helmer enters. Nora asks Helmer to give Krogstad his job back, and offers to be Helmer's songbird and elfmaid. She tells him that he writes for the worst papers and would say anything. Helmer says that he cannot give Krogstad his job back. He decides to fire Krogstad immediately. Helmer says that he forgives Nora for her behavior, and that he is strong enough to shoulder any burden. The doorbell rings; Nora goes to see Rank, Rank says that he is going downhill fast, and will die soon. He says that he does not want Helmer in his sick room, so when he has full certainty that he will die he will give her a card with a black cross on it. Rank is a bit jealous of Mrs. Linde's sudden company at the house. Nora says that tomorrow she will dance the tarantella for Rank as well. Rank tells her that he has loved her as much as anybody. He thinks he ought to leave. Nora compares Rank to the servants at her father's house, a neat diversion. Krogstad comes, and Nora goes to attend to him. Krogstad tells her that he does have a heart and that the whole thing can be settled amiably. He says that he wouldn't give her the note back now, and not to do anything desperate. He leaves her a letter for Helmer. Krogstad says that he wants to rehabilitate himself, and wants to get up in the world, and her husband is to help her. He wants Helmer to create a new job for him so that within a year he will be running the bank. As he leaves abruptly, Mrs. Linde comes in with her costume. She realizes what has happened. Nora says that she is waiting for the wonderful to happen. She says that nothing can save her now: the letter is in the locked mailbox. Mrs. Linde offers to go see Krogstad, who lives just around the corner. Helmer says that Rank prepared him for a splendid metamorphosis. Helmer goes to the mail, but Nora keeps him from it. She plays the first bars of the tarentella dance on the piano, and wants to dance. Mrs. Linde enters as they dance. Helmer leaves, thinking Nora in a wild frenzy. Mrs. Linde says that Krogsatd left town and will be back tomorrow night. She says that she has thirty-one more hours to live.

Act Three: Krogstad comes to the Helmer household to see Mrs. Linde. The Helmers are dancing that night. Krogstad and Mrs. Linde were once an item, but she jilted him for a man with more money. She had no choice: she had a helpless mother and two small brothers and needed the money. He says that when he lost her he lost his footing. He calls himself a shipwrecked man, and Mrs. Linde says that she is a shipwrecked woman. She asks Krogstad to give her someone to work for. They can hear the music of the tarantella. Krogstad vows to demand his letter back. but Mrs. Linde tells him not to. She says she initially wanted him to, but then she realized that Helmer must learn the whole truth. He says that he has never been so happy. Krogstad leaves, and the Helmers come upstairs, finding Mrs. Linde up there. Mrs. Linde tells Noar that she talked to him, and that Nora must tell Helmer everything, for she has nothing to fear from Krogstad. Mrs. Linde leaves. Helmer mentions how Rank was in splendid spirits tonight. There is a knock on the door. It is Rank. He tells Helmer that at next year's party Helmer will be Fortune's Child, and Nora should dress as herself. . Rank wishes them farewell. Helmer empties the mailbox. Helmer sees that Nora has tried to use a hairpin to open the mailbox. Helmer finds a card from Rank with a black cross. Helmer goes to read his letters. Nora weeps. Helmer reenters, having read Krogstad's letter. Helmer screams at Nora, calling her a wretch for what she has done. He chides her for inheriting her father's loose principles. He says that he was destroyed- by an irresponsible woman. Helmer thinks that Nora must continue living there, but must never be in contact with the children. Another letter comes from Krogstad, saying that he has thought it over. It has the I.O.U. in it. He throws it into the fireplace. Helmer forgives Nora, and says that she loved him, but not wisely. He offers to be her conscience and her moral compass. He feels as if his forgiveness has given her a second birth. Nora changes her clothes into normal dress, and says that they must talk. She says that great wrongs have been done to her. She has never been loved- Helmer and her father merely felt it was fun to be in love with her. She has always been a doll child to Helmer. She decides to go and stay with Ms. Linde. Helmer says that she is abandoning her most sacred duties: as a wife and mother. Nora says that she has duties to herself. She says that she may not even believe religion anymore. Helmer realizes that Nora doesn't love her anymore. She says that she waited for eight years for the 'wonderful'- for Helmer to take the blame for her. She never would have accepted the sacrifice, but she wanted him to offer . Helmer says that nobody sacrifices his honor for his love. Helmer says that an abyss has opened up between them. Helmer offers to change, but Nora says that he can only change if his doll is taken from her. She leaves, saying that only 'the most wonderful' could happen for them to get together again. As the door slams, Helmer says, "The most wonderful?!"