Eleanor Marx Aveling 1891
Source: Time March 1891;
Public Domain: this work is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
Belfort Bax bought the cultural monthly magazine Time at the end of 1889 and started it with a clean sheet in January 1890. He did not want to turn it into a Socialist journal, but rather into a broader and progressive cultural paper. He apparently closed it down in December 1891 (See Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx, Vol. 2, 1976, pp. 442.) The only issues which appear to survive are in Cambridge University Library for 1890 and the first two months of 1891. The circulation must have been very small. This article appeared in the magazine in March year but was republished by Eleanor Marx and Israel Zangwill as a little pamphlet, one copy of which, badly damaged, survives in LSE Library and which Yvonne Kapp appears to have used. There is a photo-copy of the pamphlet in the Zangwill collection in Southampton University Library and a copy of the title page in Kapp’s biography.
Ibsen’s play, which has been seen, read, or read about by all interested in the contemporary drama, undoubtedly, on the whole, deserves the admiration with which it has been received in England. But the play has certain shortcomings, and these shortcomings have, as it seems to us, been rightly pointed out by the English critics, whose sound English common-sense revolts at the manifestly impossible, nay, immoral conclusion of “A Doll’s House.” We venture, therefore, to call their attention to our “Repaired Doll’s House,” which we believe will give every satisfaction. Our repairs not only adhered to English common-sense; we have restored what was evidently Ibsen’s’ original idea. In the process of reconstruction we have, so to speak, made our bricks with the straw from the thatch of the original “Doll’s House.” There is hardly a phrase or an idea in our work which will not be found in the original, and we are convinced that Ibsen himself will prefer our repaired upper story to his own which is so weak.
To those who think it wrong, even in the interests of decency, morality, and good sense, to interfere in any way with the work of the Great Architect Ibsen, we plead the noble precedent set by Messrs. Herman and Jones (Henry Arthur) who went to far greater lengths than we have done, and who transformed the “Doll’s House” past all recognition. And while we gladly acknowledge the good work and better intentions of Messrs. Herman and Jones, we claim for ourselves, that although we have purified the drainage of the “Doll’s House” as thoroughly as they did, we have not found it necessary to seriously alter the building in order to carry out these sanitary repairs. We repeat, we have carried out our work absolutely in accordance with the original plan of the Norwegian Architect, as anyone may see by reading the top of page 377 in Mr. William Archer’s painfully literal reproduction
Finally, we rejoice that the door of the “Doll’s House” may at last be hospitably thrown open to the English public, and that the most modest woman may enter its portals without bringing a blush to the cheeks of the Daily Telegraph.
Ibsen’s “Doll’s House” deals with the relations between Torvald Helmer and his wife, Nora. Seven years before the play begins, Helmer – then only a poor clerk – has been sick unto death. The doctors tell his wife two things alone can save him, that he shall be kept in ignorance of the seriousness of his illness and that he shall have a long rest in a warm, southern climate. Nora, to save her husband’s life, borrows money from one Krogstad on her father’s security. Unhappily at this time her father is stricken down, and dying. She cannot disturb her father’s last hours, and knowing that he would certainly help her in her sore need, she signs his name – quite unconscious that she is thus committing the heinous crime of forgery. With the money thus obtained she takes her husband – he fancying the money has been left them by his father-in-law who has now died – to the South, and so saves his life.
For eight years they have lived together in perfect accord and happiness, and three children have been born to them. Nora, meanwhile, has been working surreptitiously – copying MSS far into the night and doing fancy work, to pay off the debt she had contracted. But Krogstad, in whose hands the forged document is, is a man of more than doubtful character. Krogstad is employed at the bank of which, when the play begins, Helmer has just been made manager. Helmer resents the familiar tone of this man – whom he has known from childhood – and dismisses him from his position in the bank. Krogstad then threatens Nora that he will tell her husband everything. She tries to have him retained at the bank; fails, and Krogstad writes to Helmer. This letter he throws into the letter-box. Nora manages to keep her husband from opening the box, and, meanwhile, an old school-fellow of Nora’s has appeared on the scene. Mrs. Linden, a widow who had married for money not for love, has known and cared for Krogstad in the old days; she learns that the man is struggling hard to regain his lost position in society, and she promises, indeed offers, to become his wife. In his new-found happiness Krogstad is anxious to make others happy, and he again writes to Helmer: – Helmer has nothing to fear from him. He will not betray Nora. – During all this time Nora has passed through an agony of terror and despair. She knows the letter that will tell her husband all is in the box: by getting him teach her the tarantella she is to dance at a fancy-dress ball, by coaxing and cajolery she keeps him from reading his letters. At last on their return from the ball Helmer takes his key, opens the box, and goes to his room with his correspondence. He reads the first letter from Krogstad telling him of his wife’s forgery. Horrified, he re-enters and taxes her with her crime. It is at this point that we take up the play. Certain critics of a new-fangled order have maintained that all through the play there is abundant evidence that Nora is not the childish creature her husband takes her for. They say that a woman who could for years work hard – copying late into the night; who could stint herself while lavishing care on her husband and children, was not merely a butterfly. They say that for eight years Nora has been expecting some convincing proof that her husband is really the noble man she takes him for, and loves, and is thus all along preparing for the decisive and independent course of action she determines upon when she discovers that Helmer is not what she has fancied him. They maintain that there is no sudden development of the fibbing, macaroon-eating doll of the first act into the strong self-reliant woman of the third act. They even deny Nora was a doll. For eight years, they say, the gunpowder has been accumulating; the husband’s fierce anger, his (from Nora’s point of view) selfishness and want of principle in making light, when he is safe, of the very things he condemns so sternly when in danger, are the torch that set the powder a-blazing. According to these fruits secs the whole play is at once true in art and true to nature. And we regret to that there are even women so lost to all the Ewigweigsiche as to declare it possible a woman should leave husband and children because she thinks it best for husband and children and not simply because she has a lover.
Against this new school – happily in England a small one – the older, the respectable, the really responsible critics have protested. They have shown how immoral the play is; how ridiculous – and hateful – the conception of a woman deliberately abandoning husband and children must be to an English audience. In accordance with these clean, wholesome ideas of morality we have slightly altered the third act of’ the “Doll’s House” – alterations that we believe in accord with Ibsen’s real intentions, and that cannot fail to satisfy the English sense of morality and decency. We begin with the scene where Nora – knowing her husband has now read Krogstad’s letter – in her half-childish agony of fear thinks of drowning herself to spare her husband’s reputation, and to save him from taking her sin upon himself, as she is convinced he will do. We start from p.374 (line 14 from bottom) of Mr. Archer’s reproduction.
Nora (with wild eyes gropes about her, seizes Helmer’s domino, throws it round her, and whispers quickly, hoarsely). Never to see him again ! Never, never, never. (Throws her shawl over her head.) Never to see the children again. Never, never. Oh, that black, icy water! Oh, that bottomless – ! If, it were only over! Now he has it; he’s reading it. Oh, no, no, no, not yet. Torvald, good-bye! Good-bye, my little ones!
(She is about to rush out, when Helmer enters, and stands with a letter in his hand.)
Hel. – Nora!
Nora (shrieking).- Ah!
Hel. What is this? Do you know what is in this letter?
Nora. – Yes, I know. Yes, I know. Oh! don’t be cross, Torvald !
Hel. (holds her). – What does it mean?
Nora. (tries to free herself). – Let me go! You can’t save me, Torvald !
Hel. (falling back). True! Is it true what he writes? No, no. It cannot be true.
Nora. – Please don’t scold me! I have loved you beyond all else in the world.
Hel. – Pshaw – no silly evasions!
Nora. (coming nearer to him). – Torvald.
Hel. – Wretched woman! What have you done?
Nora. – Oh, Torvald! You can’t save me!
Hel. – I don’t want any melodramatic airs. (Looks the door.) Here you shall stay and give an account of yourself. Do you understand what you have done?
Nora. (looks at him, with tears streaming down her face, and gradually becoming hysterical). – Yes, I begin to understand it.
Hel. (walking up and down).- Oh, what an awful awakening! During all these eight years she who was my pride and joy – a hypocrite, a liar – worse, worse – a criminal. Oh, the hideousness of it ! Ugh! Ugh!
(Nora sobs more and more hysterically.)
Hel. – I ought to have foreseen something of the kind. All your father’s dishonesty – don’t make such a noise – I say your father’s dishonesty! you have inherited – no religion, no morality, no sense of duty. How I am punished for shielding him! I did it for your sake and you reward me like this.
Nora. (sobbing). – Like this! Like this!
Hel. – You have destroyed my whole happiness. You have ruined my future. Oh, it’s frightful to think of! I am in the power of a scoundrel; he can do whatever he pleases with me, demand whatever he chooses, and I must submit. And all this disaster is brought upon me by an unprincipled woman.
Nora. – I did it for your sake!
Hel. – Oh, no fine phrases. Your father too was always ready with them. What good is it to me that you “did it for my sake” as you say? No good in the world! He can publish the story all the same; I might even be suspected of collusion. People will think I was at the bottom of it all and egged you on. And for all this I have you to thank you whom I have done nothing but pet and spoil during our whole married life. Do you understand now what you have done to me?
Nora. (in a voice choked with sobs) – Yes.
Hel.- It’s impossible. I can’t grasp it. But we must come to an understanding. Take that shawl off: Take it off, I must try to pacify him in one way or another – the secret must be kept, cost what it may. As for ourselves, we must live as we have always done; but, of course, only in the eyes of the world. Of course you will continue to live here. But the children cannot be left in your charge. I dare not trust them to you. (Nora sinks shrieking on the floor at his feet.) Oh, to have to say this to one I have loved so tenderly – whom I still – but no, that is all past – henceforward, our happy home is ruined. But I must save the ruins, the shreds, the show of it.
(Nora rises and stands with clasped hands.)
Nora. – Oh, Torvald! What is to be done? How can you ever forgive me? How can we save the shreds, the show of it?
Hel. – I must see Krogstad at once. I'll send for him. (Nora stands motionless. Helmer goes to door and calls) Ellen!
Ell. (at door, half-dressed). – Yes, sir.
Hel. – Put on your shawl and run across to Mr. Krogstad’s. Say I must see him at once.
Ell. – Yes, sir. (Exit.)
(Helmer strides up and down. Nora sinks into a chair, hiding her face in her hands.)
Hel. – A dust cloud of lies will contaminate the whole air of the house. I shall have to make terms with this man, and they'll say at the bank that I'm under petticoat government after all. That I have no will, no firmness. Every breath the children breathe will contain some germ of evil.
Nora. (interrupting). – Oh! You said so, Torvald, you said so, but I never thought the words would apply to this house – to our beautiful home, that you had made so happy.
(A sound of steps heard.)
Hel. – Hide yourself, Nora. You mustn’t be seen.
Nora. – Oh! let me stay. I cannot bear to think of what he may say to you.
Hel. – No. You wouldn’t understand. My shoulders are broad enough to bear the whole burden.
Nora. – Let me share it with you, as wife and husband should.
Hel. – You have done enough harm already. You have ruined my home. Let me save the shreds of it.
(Nora goes towards the first room – that of the children. Helmer stops her.)
Not there. Go to my study. Not to the children.
(Nora leans her head against door of the children’s room, then rushes hurriedly into the study.)
Krog. – What do you want, Torvald?
Hel. – You know well enough. Let us come to the point at once. We're men – not a couple of hysterical women.
Krog. – How much can you afford?
Hel. – How much do you want?
Krog. – There was a time when I wanted merely revenge – and rescue from the mud for myself. But now a happy turn in my life – however – this happy turn brings with it a need of money. In a word, I'm going to be married.
Hel. – You married! Why, who would marry you?
Krog. – Mrs. Linden.
Hel. – What! How could you dare to ask my wife’s friend?
Krog. – I didn’t. She proposed to me.
Hel – She proposed! Well, I always suspected she was no better than she should be What can one expect from a woman who has earned her own living?
Krog – But supposing she had to earn her living?
Hel. – Women of our class never should have to. In women of the lower classes it may be a necessity, and even very laudable. But for ours! It is in degradation, a destroying of all that is sweetest and most womanly. It makes them flat-chested and flat-footed. The women of our class should be the guardians of the hearth; the spirit of beauty and holiness sanctifying home-life. And then it is so ugly to see a woman work. It shocks one’s sense of ideal womanliness. And what is worse, it makes the wife independent of her husband. What happiness can you hope for in a union with such a woman?
Krog. – Of course I shall stop Christina working. I will make her my true helpmate by making her dependent upon me.
Hel.- I am glad to see you are awakening to a higher ideal of life and its duties. If you succeed in this you may yet make it a true marriage. Well, will you be satisfied with this? – (Hands him a bundle of notes.)
Krog (counts them – aside). – For the present. (Aloud) My friend! (Moved.) But there is one thing more. I want to regain my footing in the world. I want to rise – and you will help me. Of course Christina must become a true woman, and devote herself to the house and to me. You will let me retain my position in the bank.
Hel. – Very well. (Aside.) She must resign; he can go back to fill up the vacancy, and so my dignity will not be compromised.
Krog. – Thank you, thank you. (Hands him the paper.)
Hel. (aside). – Saved!
Nora (peeping in at door). – Saved!
Hel. (aloud and in the old tone). But remember that although you are rightly taking her place at the bank, a woman who has once tasted the forbidden fruit of independence is like a pet tiger who has once tasted blood.
Krog. – Well, I've as good a chance of domestic felicity as you.
Hel. – What do you mean?
Krog. – Why, your wife has worked to earn money this long while.
Hel. (overwhelmed). – Worked! To earn money! What new blow is this?
Nora. ( again peeping in at door). – Heavens! Lost!
Krog Well, I know she has. She did copying, working late into the night; and crochet and fancy work – for sale – and last Christmas
Hel. – And I thought she was making paper roses for the Christmas tree for the children – herself a sweet child-wife.
(Sinks into a chair, hiding his face.)
Krog. – It’s understood then. I remain at the bank?
Hel. – Yes.
Krog. – And I shall do my work thoroughly. But you must stick to the bargain. If you do, I promise you my silence.
Hel. – And now we have spoken face to face, eye to eye. You have been frank with me; I am helping you to regain your place in the world – nay, more, your self-respect. I Have helped to show you the way to a better life and to a true marriage.. Will you help me to remove the one shadow that lies athwart my working hours at the bank?
Krog. (deeply moved). – I will, I will.
Hel. (grasps his hand and speaks solemnly). – Don’t call me by my Christian name.
Krog – I won’t. I promise. Good-night.
Hel. – Good-night.
Krog. – God bless you, Tor – Mr Helmer.
Hel. – God bless you!
(Exit Krogstad. Nora enters with bowed head)
Hel. – Nora! You here!
Nora. – Yes, forgive me. I could not but listen while you were saving the shreds of our happiness. But, oh, Torvald! You have again made the shreds into our beautiful home. I am saved, I am saved!
Hel. – And I?
Nora. – You too, of course; we are both saved, both of us. You've got back the promissory note, you must burn it. We must get rid of this hateful thing. It shall be nothing but a dream. (She takes the I.O. U. from his hand throws it on the fire, and both watch it burning.) There! It’s gone! Oh, Torvald, Torvald, what a mauvais quart d'heure this must have been for you!
Hel. – I have fought a hard fight during the last fifteen minutes.
Nora. – And in your agony you saw no other outlet but to take the blame upon yourself. No – we won’t think of that horror. We will only rejoice and repeat – it’s over, all over! Don’t you hear, Torvald? You don’t seem able to grasp it. Yes, it’s over. What is this set look on your face? Oh, my poor Torvald, I understand; you can’t believe that I have truly repented. But I have, Torvald, I swear it. I have repented of everything. I will never think for myself again. I know all you do is right.
Hel. – That’s true.
Nora. – You loved me as a husband should love his wife. And I have been very wicked, very foolish. But you will give me back your love; for henceforth I will lean on you. You will counsel and guide me. You would be no true man if my unwomanly independence had not made me less dear in your eyes. But you mustn’t think any more of the foolish things I did before I understood the sin of a wife thinking and acting without her husband’s leave. I have repented, Torvald; I swear I have repented.
Hel. – I sincerely hope you have. (Goes out right.)
Nora. – No, stay! What are you going to do? (She stands at the door.)
Hel. (inside). – I'm going to have the sheets aired for the spare room.
Nora. (at the door). – How thoughtful of you! But there'll be plenty of time to-morrow morning to air them for Christina! Oh! how lovely, how cosy our home is, Torvald. She will like being here. (She walks up and dozen.) You have wings broad enough to shield everybody. (She takes a macaroon and eats it.) Now that Christina is going to be married, now that she is no longer friendless and alone, we can offer her the spare room. It is true I told her we hadn’t a spare room, but it was all for love of you, Torvald. (Eats another macaroon.) I thought you wouldn’t care to have with us a woman who lived alone. (Helmer enters with a key in his hand. As he does so, Nora hurriedly hides the bag of macaroons.) Why, what’s this?
Hel. – It’s the key of the spare room.
Nora. – But why give it me so late to-night?
Hel. – I shall not sleep to-night.
Nora. – But, Torvald, dear -
Hel. (looking at watch). – It’s not so late yet. Sit down, Nora, I have much to say to you. (Sits down by table.)
Nora. – Torvald, what does this mean? Your cold, set face
Hel. – Sit down. It will take some time. I have much to make clear to you.
(Nora sits at the other side of the table.)
Nora – You alarm me. I don’t understand you.
Hel. – No, that’s just it. You don’t appreciate me; and I have never understood you till to-night. No, don’t interrupt. Only listen to what I say. We must come to a definite arrangement, Nora.
Nora. – How do you mean?
Hel. (after a pause). – Does not one thing strike you as we sit here?
Nora. – What should strike me?
Hel. – We have been married eight years. Does it not strike you that we have never talked together as man and wife should?
Nora. – Man and wife! What do you mean?
Hel. – During eight whole years and more – ever since the day we first met – you have never seriously consulted me; you have never sunk really yourself in me!
Nora. – Was I always to trouble you with the petty cares of the kitchen?
Hel. – I?m not talking of kitchens. I say you have never seriously set yourself to realising what marriage means.
Nora. – Why, dear Torvald, what had I to do with serious things?
Hel. – You had to do with me. You have never understood me. I have had great injustice done me, Nora; first by Krogstad, and then by you.
Nora. – What! By Krogstad and me? By the only two people in all the world who now call you by your Christian name?
Hel. – Yes, it is so, Nora. When I was at school with Krogstad he used to tell me all his opinions. I did not hold them, as a rule; and when I did I concealed it. A man like myself cannot hold the same opinions on any subject as a Krogstad. Then he called me a cad, and caffed me as I chaffed my little sister. Then you came to live in my house.
Nora. – What an expression to use about our marriage!
Hel. (undisturbed). – You came to live in my house. I settled everything with the greatest propriety, and I hoped you had the same tastes as I; but, as I see now, you only pretended to have them. When I look back on it, you seem to have been living here as an actress. You lived by playing tricks on me. Nora, you and Krogstad have done me a great wrong. It’s your fault if my life is wasted.
Nora. – Why, Torvald, haven’t you been happy with me.
Hel – No, I thought I was, but I never was.
Nora. – Not – not happy?
Hel – No, only amused. I now see you have only been entertaining me – that our home has been nothing but a play-house. Here you have been an actress, just as at home you were your papa’s infant phenomenon. And the children, in their turn, will grow up actors. I thought it real when you were only playing before me, just as the children did when we took them to the pantomime. That has been our marriage.
Nora. – What do you mean?
Hel. – You heard what Krogstad told me. You were never the helpless, silly song-bird I took you for. When I thought you my little lark, my squirrel, you were deceiving me. When I first learnt what you had done, I marvelled. Could a little squirrel, could a little lark, take such a step for itself? But now I see that all along you have been acting and thinking for yourself. This is no sudden transformation. You have been consistent all along. You worked to earn money. I should not even be surprised if you had tried to feel like a man!
Nora. – But the money went in housekeeping, never for anything else. Oh, I know there is truth in what you say, but you are too hard on a poor little thing like me – it is breaking a butterfly. And if I did violate the true relation of husband and wife, I did it for you. Can’t you understand that? You remember when you were so ill – well, you were never to suspect how ill you were. The doctors came to me privately and told me your life was in danger, that you would die unless you went to a warmer climate
Hel. (impressively) – I should have found my way to a warmer clime without your interference.
Nora.- You know I tried to save myself from this crime. I told you I longed to have a trip abroad like other young wives; I wept and prayed; I asked you to remember my condition and not thwart me. But you said it was your duty as a husband not to yield to my whims and fancies. Very well, I thought. But saved you must be; and then I did – what you now know. Oh! forgive me, Torvald! You said one could retrieve one’s character if one owned one’s crime and repented.
Hel. – You resorted to tricks and dodges to conceal from me that you had worked to earn money, that you had saved my life in an unwomanly manner. It is all this concealment that has corrupted you, and makes you unfit to bring up my children in the way they should go.
Nora. – But henceforth it shall be different. Play-acting time is over; now comes the time for education.
Hel – Whose education, Nora? Yours or the children’s?
Nora. – Both, my dear Torvald. Oh! can’t you teach me to become a fit wife for you?
Hel. – That will take time.
Nora – And I'm not to educate the children?
Hel. – It is impossible. Didn’t I tell you only a few minutes ago that I could not trust my children to you?
Nora. – I thought that was in the excitement of the moment! Why should you dwell upon that?
Hel – No. I am perfectly calm. The problem of educating my children is beyond you. There’s another problem to be solved first – how to educate you. I must set about it at once, and think it, out alone. That’s why I am now leaving you. (He hands Nora the key, which she takes mechanically.) Good-night.
Nora. – What do you mean that the spare room is for me and not for Christina? I am not to invite her to stop tomorrow?
Hel. – You are mad! I shall not allow it. I forbid it. The idea of Christina staying with us! A woman who has so far forgotten herself that she has proposed to the man she loves, after accepting the man she did not – she is no fit companion for my wife. You must never be at home to her except when we're at home to all the world. This is the first step in your education, Nora. Again, good-night.
Nora. – What! You would practically shut me out from my home, my husband, my children! Consider what the world will say.
Hel. – The world! The world will know nothing unless you again forget yourself, and forsake your holiest duties.
Nora. – My holiest duties? What are my holiest duties?
Hel. – Do you ask me that? To keep up appearances.
Nora. – Are there no other duties equally sacred?
Hel. – None. Except to obey me.
Nora. – My duties to my children
Hel. – Before all else you are my wife.
Nora. – I know so now. My wicked dream, that I might become a human being as you are, is over. I will be nothing but a true wife and woman. Have I not an infallible guide? (She kisses his hand humbly.) Have I not religion?
Hel. – I fear, Nora, that you don’t know properly what religion is.
Nora. – What do you mean?
Hel – You have forgotten all our clergyman told you when you were confirmed. He explained that a woman must be submissive to her husband. But your mother’s scepticism, like your father’s loose ideas of finance, are in your blood. Most sins are traceable to sceptical mothers and loose ideas of finance.
Nora. – Oh! Let me appeal to you for mercy! Do not separate me from my children – for I suppose I have some moral feeling – or answer me, have I none?
Hel. – Well, Nora, it’s not easy to say. I really can’t decide off-hand. I only know you seem to have been thinking for yourself – and differently from me.
Nora. – But surely society says a mother shall bring up her husband’s children!
Hel. – You don’t understand the society in which you live.
Nora. – I don’t. But you do. And you say. I am to be really separated from my little ones, and from you?
Hel. – It must be so.
Nora. – Then there is only one explanation possible. You're no longer in love with me.
Hel – No; that is just it.
Nora. – Torvald! Can you say so?
Hel – I regret it extremely, Nora; for you have always been so very amusing. But it can’t be helped. I'm not in love with you at present.
Nora. – And can you make clear to me how I have forfeited your love?
Hel. – Yes, I can. For eight years I thought of you as an ideal woman; one who did not understand anything, but who loved; a woman like millions of other women, sweetly sinking her own identity entirely in that of her husband. Then the miracle happened. I found you were not the woman I had taken you for. I found that the money which I thought your father had providentially won at cards and providentially dying at the right time, left to us, you had obtained by forgery, and that not content with this crime, you had worked to pay off the debt so improperly contracted. Nora, I would gladly work for you day and night – bear sorrow and want for your sake – but no true man sacrifices his independence even for the woman he loves.
Nora. – Millions of men have depended upon women.
Hel. – They were not men. And I have my position in the Bank to consider, our position in society to remember.
Nora. – Forgive me. I spoke like a silly child. But I am beginning to understand.
Hel. – Until you quite understand you are not the woman with whom I can share my life. When your terror was over – not for me, but for yourself – when there was nothing more to fear – then it was to you as though nothing had happened. You were to be my lark again, my play-acting doll – and I was to take twice as much care of you in the future because you were, in spite of all your efforts, so entirely incapable of thinking for yourself correctly. (Coming- closer.) Nora, in that moment it burst upon me that I had been living here these eight years with a woman I had not known – that my children may take after you. Oh! I can’t bear to think of it – I could tear you into pieces!
Nora. – (sadly) – I see it, I see it; an abyss has opened between us. But, Torvald, can it never be filled up?
Hel. – As you now are, you are no wife for me.
Nora. – You have strength to make another woman of me.
Hel. – Perhaps – when husband and children are taken away from you.
Nora. – To be parted from you – from the children! No, Torvald, no; I can’t grasp the thought.
Hel (going into his room). – The more reason for the thing to happen.
(He comes back with brush, comb, tooth-brush, a piece of soap, and two candlesticks. These he places on the table.)
Nora. – Torvald, Torvald, not now. Can’t you think it over till to-morrow?
Hel. – No. Of course I can’t allow you to spend the night in another’s house, so we shall live here as brother and sister.
Nora. – Oh, Torvald! I must go to the children. I know they're in better hands than mine, but still I am their mother.
Hel. (interrupting). – As you now are, you can be nothing to them. They must be sent to a boarding school.
Nora. – Oh! never, never! No mother could ever leave her little ones. Nature, society, religion, all forbid you to separate a mother from her children. You cannot! You dare not!
Hel. – Cannot? Dare not? I both can and dare do what is my duty towards my children.
Nora. (hysterically). – But this is monstrous, unnatural, unheard of!
Hel. – Unheard of? Supposing I had not saved you from Krogstad, you would have been condemned as a forger. Do you think you would have your children with you in a prison cell? And what the law would have done on legal grounds, I must do on moral grounds. Unnatural? It is the law of nature in the working classes, and you have debased yourself to their level. Didn’t the three nurses you engaged for the children, because I was afraid nursing them yourself would spoil your figure, have to send their own babes to baby-farms? And as for monstrous, supposing you had committed suicide, as you selfishly thought of doing, would you not have been separated from the children, and for ever?
Nora. (overwhelmed, sinks on her knees). – But some time, Torvald, some time.
Hel. – Possibly.
Nora. – Ah! my husband! My husband now and always!
Hel. – And as such the best judge.
Nora. (sobbing in uncontrollable violence). – But the children -
Hel. – Have you really the courage to begin that again?
Nora. (pleadingly, catching hold of his coat tails). – Torvald!
Hel. – No, it is all over now. Take your tooth-brush and these (points to things on table). Towels are in the room already. Remember the matter must be placed in a proper light before the servants. And I will write to Pastor Manders to recommend me a good boarding school for my children.
Nora. – All over All over! Torvald, shall I never see them again?
Hel. – They will write to you once a quarter.
Nora. – And I may write to them?
Hel. – Yes. But I must see the letters.
Nora. – And I may send them goodies – macaroons?
Hel. – Nothing. Nothing!
Nora. – But I may go to them if they should have the measles.
Hel – No, I say. You must remain strangers.
Nora. – Can I never be more than a stranger to you and to them?
Hel. (takes up matches and lights both candles). – Oh, Nora, then the miracle of miracles would have to happen.
Nora. – What is the miracle of miracles?
Hel. – You would have to change so that – but oh! Nora, after my experience of miracles I hardly look forward to another.
Nora – But I will believe in one. I must so change that -
Hel. – That, perhaps, I may allow the children to come home for the holidays.
Nora. (seizes his hand) – Oh, thank you, thank you! And perhaps, Torvald, then I shall become your little squirrel again your merry little song-bird.
Hel. – In that case our living together will be a true marriage. (Takes up his candle.) Good-night! (He goes out.)
Nora. (sinks into a chair with her face in her hands). – Torvald, Torvald! (She looks round and stands up.) He’s gone! (She takes her candle, the brushes, etc., then a hope suddenly inspires her, and she puts them down again.) Ah! the miracle of miracles!
(Helmer’s bedroom door bangs.)
1. For the suggestion as to this sister, we have to express our grateful indebtedness to Mr. Jones’s Breaking a Butterfly.”
2. Although Ibsen, when he re-writes his “ Doll’s-House,” will not be able to translate this – pantomimes are not performed in Norway it is a touch which, like the comic lover introduced by Mr. Jones, will please the English public, and we trust Mr. Gosse at least will adopt it in the translation of this play which we hear he is preparing.