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A DOLL'S HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen 1879 translated by William Archer CHARACTERS TORVALD HELMER. NORA, his wife. DOCTOR RANK. MRS. LINDEN. * NILS KROGSTAD. THE HELMERS' THREE CHILDREN. ANNA, *(2) their nurse. A MAID-SERVANT (ELLEN). A PORTER. The action passes in Helmer's house (a flat) in Christiania. * In the original "Fru Linde." *(2) In the original "Anne-Marie." ACT FIRST A room, comfortably and tastefully, but not expensively, furnished. In the back, on the right, a door leads to the hall; on the left another door leads to HELMER’s study. Between the two doors a pianoforte. In the middle of the left wall a door, and nearer the front a window. Near the window a round table with armchairs and a small sofa. In the right wall, somewhat to the back, a door, and against the same wall, further forward, a porcelain stove; in front of it a couple of arm-chairs and a rocking-chair. Between the stove and the side-door a small table. Engravings on the walls. A whatnot with china and bric-a-brac. A small bookcase filled with handsomely bound books. Carpet. A fire in the stove. It is a winter day. A bell rings in the hall outside. Presently the outer door of the flat is heard to open. Then NORA enters, humming gaily. She is in outdoor dress, and carries several parcels, which she lays on the right-hand table. She leaves the door into the hall open, and a PORTER is seen outside, carrying a Christmas-tree and a basket, which he gives to the MAID-SERVANT who has opened the door. NORA. Hide the Christmas-tree carefully, Ellen; the children must on no account see it before this evening, when it's lighted up. [To the PORTER, taking out her purse.] How much? PORTER. Fifty ore. * * About sixpence. There are 100 ore in a krone or crown, which is worth thirteenpence halfpenny. NORA. There is a crown. No, keep the change. [The PORTER thanks her and goes. NORA shuts the door. She continues smiling in quiet glee as she takes off her outdoor things. Taking from her pocket a bag of macaroons, she eats one or two. Then she goes on tip-toe to her husband's door and listens. NORA. Yes; he is at home. [She begins humming again, crossing to the table on the right. HELMER. [In his room.] Is that my lark twittering there? NORA. [Busy opening some of her parcels.] Yes, it is. HELMER. Is it the squirrel frisking around? NORA. Yes! HELMER When did the squirrel get home? NORA. Just this minute. [Hides the bag of macaroons in her pocket and wipes her mouth.] Come here, Torvald, and see what I've been buying. -1- HELMER. Don't interrupt me. [A little later he opens the door and looks in, pen in hand.] Buying, did you say? What! All that? Has my little spendthrift been making the money fly again? NORA. Why, Torvald, surely we can afford to launch out a little now. It's the first Christmas we haven't had to pinch. HELMER. Come come; we can't afford to squander money. NORA. Oh yes, Torvald, do let us squander a little, now- just the least little bit! You know you'll soon be earning heaps of money. HELMER. Yes, from New Year's Day. But there's a whole quarter before my first salary is due. NORA. Never mind; we can borrow in the meantime. HELMER. Nora! [He goes up to her and takes her playfully by the ear.] Still my little featherbrain! Supposing I borrowed a thousand crowns to-day, and you made ducks and drakes of them during Christmas week, and then on New Year's Eve a tile blew off the roof and knocked my brains outNORA. [Laying her hand on his mouth.] Hush! How can you talk so horridly? HELMER. But supposing it were to happen- what then? NORA. If anything so dreadful happened, it would be all the same to me whether I was in debt or not. HELMER. But what about the creditors? NORA. They! Who cares for them? They're only strangers. HELMER. Nora, Nora! What a woman you are! But seriously, Nora, you know my principles on these points. No debts! No borrowing! Home life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on borrowing and debt. We two have held out bravely till now, and we are not going to give in at the last. NORA. [Going to the fireplace.] Very well- as you please, Torvald. HELMER. [Following her.] Come come; my little lark mustn't droop her wings like that. What? Is my squirrel in the sulks? [Takes out his purse.] Nora, what do you think I have here? NORA. [Turning round quickly.] Money! HELMER. There! [Gives her some notes.] Of course I know all sorts of things are wanted at Christmas. NORA. [Counting.] Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Oh, thank you, thank you, Torvald! This will go a long way. HELMER. I should hope so. NORA. Yes, indeed; a long way! But come here, and let me show you all I've been buying. And so cheap! Look, here's a new suit for Ivar, and a little sword. Here are a horse and a trumpet for Bob. And here are a doll and a cradle for Emmy. They're only common; but they're good enough for her to pull to pieces. And dress-stuffs and kerchiefs for the servants. I ought to have got something better for old Anna. HELMER. And what's in that other parcel? NORA. [Crying out.] No, Torvald, you're not to see that until this evening. HELMER. Oh! Ah! But now tell me, you little spendthrift, have you thought of anything for yourself? NORA. For myself! Oh, I don't want anything. HELMER. Nonsense! Just tell me something sensible you would like to have. NORA. No, really I don't know of anything- Well, listen, TorvaldHELMER. Well? NORA. [Playing with his coat-buttons, without looking him in the face.] If you really want to give me something, you might, you know- you mightHELMER. Well? Out with it! NORA. [Quickly.] You might give me money, Torvald. Only just what you think you can spare; then I can buy something with it later -2- on. HELMER. But, NoraNORA. Oh, please do, dear Torvald, please do! I should hang the money in lovely gilt paper on the Christmas-tree. Wouldn't that be fun? HELMER. What do they call the birds that are always making the money fly? NORA. Yes, I know- spendthrifts, * of course. But please do as I ask you, Torvald. Then I shall have time to think what I want most. Isn't that very sensible, now? * "Spillefugl," literally "playbird," means a gambler. HELMER. [Smiling.] Certainly; that is to say, if you really kept the money I gave you, and really spent it on something for yourself. But it all goes in housekeeping, and for all manner of useless things, and then I have to pay up again. NORA. But, TorvaldHELMER. Can you deny it, Nora dear? [He puts his arm round her.] It's a sweet little lark, but it gets through a lot of money. No one would believe how much it costs a man to keep such a little bird as you. NORA. For shame! How can you say so? Why, I save as much as ever I can. HELMER. [Laughing.] Very true- as much as you can- but that's precisely nothing. NORA. [Hums and smiles with covert glee.] H'm! If you only knew, Torvald, what expenses we larks and squirrels have. HELMER. You're a strange little being! Just like your fatheralways on the look-out for all the money you can lay your hands on; but the moment you have it, it seems to slip through your fingers; you never know what becomes of it. Well, one must take you as you are. It's in the blood. Yes, Nora, that sort of thing is hereditary. NORA. I wish I had inherited many of papa's qualities. HELMER. And I don't wish you anything but just what you are- my own, sweet little song-bird. But I say- it strikes me you look so- so- what shall I call it?- so suspicious to-dayNORA. Do I? HELMER. You do, indeed. Look me full in the face. NORA. [Looking at him.] Well? HELMER. [Threatening with his finger.] Hasn't the little sweet-tooth been playing pranks to-day? NORA. No; how can you think such a thing! HELMER. Didn't she just look in at the confectioner's? NORA. No, Torvald; reallyHELMER. Not to sip a little jelly? NORA. No; certainly not. HELMER. Hasn't she even nibbled a macaroon or two? NORA. No, Torvald, indeed, indeed! HELMER. Well, well, well; of course I'm only joking. NORA. [Goes to the table on the right.] I shouldn't think of doing what you disapprove of. HELMER. No, I'm sure of that; and, besides, you've given me your word- [Going towards her.] Well, keep your little Christmas secrets to yourself, Nora darling. The Christmas-tree will bring them all to light, I daresay. NORA. Have you remembered to invite Doctor Rank? HELMER. No. But it's not necessary; he'll come as a matter of course. Besides, I shall ask him when he looks in to-day. I've ordered some capital wine. Nora, you can't think how I look -3- forward to this evening. NORA. And I too. How the children will enjoy themselves, Torvald! HELMER. Ah, it's glorious to feel that one has an assured position and ample means. Isn't it delightful to think of? NORA. Oh, it's wonderful! HELMER. Do you remember last Christmas? For three whole weeks beforehand you shut yourself up every evening till long past midnight to make flowers for the Christmas-tree, and all sorts of other marvels that were to have astonished us. I was never so bored in my life. NORA. I didn't bore myself at all. HELMER. [Smiling.] But it came to little enough in the end, Nora. NORA. Oh, are you going to tease me about that again? How could I help the cat getting in and pulling it all to pieces? HELMER. To be sure you couldn't, my poor little Nora. You did your best to give us all pleasure, and that's the main point. But, all the same, it's a good thing the hard times are over. NORA. Oh, isn't it wonderful? HELMER. Now I needn't sit here boring myself all alone; and you needn't tire your blessed eyes and your delicate little fingersNORA. [Clapping her hands.] No, I needn't, need I, Torvald? Oh, how wonderful it is to think of? [Takes his arm.] And now I'll tell you how I think we ought to manage, Torvald. As soon as Christmas is over- [The hall-door bell rings.] Oh, there's a ring! [Arranging the room.] That's somebody come to call. How tiresome! HELMER. I'm "not at home" to callers; remember that. ELLEN. [In the doorway.] A lady to see you, ma'am. NORA. Show her in. ELLEN. [To HELMER.] And the doctor has just come, sir. HELMER. Has he gone into my study? ELLEN. Yes, sir. [HELMER goes into his study. ELLEN ushers in MRS. LINDEN, in travelling costume, and goes out, closing the door. MRS. LINDEN. [Embarrassed and hesitating.] How do you do, Nora? NORA. [Doubtfully.] How do you do? MRS. LINDEN. I see you don't recognise me! NORA. No, I don't think- oh yes!- I believe- [Suddenly brightening.] What, Christina! Is it really you? MRS. LINDEN. Yes; really I! NORA. Christina! And to think I didn't know you! But how could I[More softly.] How changed you are; Christina! MRS. LINDEN. Yes, no doubt. In nine or ten yearsNORA. Is it really so long since we met? Yes, so it is. Oh, the last eight years have been a happy time, I can tell you. And now you have come to town? All that long journey in mid-winter! How brave of you! MRS. LINDEN. I arrived by this morning's steamer. NORA. To have a merry Christmas, of course. Oh, how delightful! Yes, we will have a merry Christmas. Do take your things off. Aren't you frozen? [Helping her.] There; now we'll sit cosily by the fire. No, you take the arm-chair; I shall sit in this rocking-chair. [Seizes her hands.] Yes, now I can see the dear old face again. It was only at the first glance- But you're a little paler, Christina- and perhaps a little thinner. MRS. LINDEN. And much, much older, Nora. NORA. Yes, perhaps a little older- not much- ever so little. [She suddenly checks herself; seriously.] Oh, what a thoughtless wretch I am! Here I sit chattering on, and- Dear, dear Christina, can you forgive me! MRS. LINDEN. What do you mean, Nora? NORA. [Softly.] Poor Christina! I forgot: you are a widow. -4- MRS. LINDEN. Yes; my husband died three years ago. NORA. I know, I know; I saw it in the papers. Oh, believe me, Christina, I did mean to write to you; but I kept putting it off, and something always came in the way. MRS. LINDEN. I can quite understand that, Nora dear. NORA. No, Christina; it was horrid of me. Oh, you poor darling! how much you must have gone through!- And he left you nothing? MRS. LINDEN. Nothing. NORA. And no children? MRS. LINDEN. None. NORA. Nothing, nothing at all? MRS. LINDEN. Not even a sorrow or a longing to dwell upon. NORA. [Looking at her incredulously.] My dear Christina, how is that possible? MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling sadly and stroking her hair.] Oh, it happens so sometimes, Nora. NORA. So utterly alone! How dreadful that must be! I have three of the loveliest children. I can't show them to you just now; they're out with their nurse. But now you must tell me everything. MRS. LINDEN. No, no; I want you to tell meNORA. No, you must begin; I won't be egotistical to-day. To-day I'll think only of you. Oh! but I must tell you one thingperhaps you've heard of our great stroke of fortune? MRS. LINDEN. No. What is it? NORA. Only think! my husband has been made manager of the Joint Stock Bank. MRS. LINDEN. Your husband! Oh, how fortunate! NORA. Yes; isn't it? A lawyer's position is so uncertain, you see, especially when he won't touch any business that's the least bit shady, as of course Torvald never would; and there I quite agree with him. Oh! you can imagine how glad we are. He is to enter on his new position at the New Year, and then he'll have a large salary, and percentages. In future we shall be able to live quite differently- just as we please, in fact. Oh, Christina, I feel so lighthearted and happy! It's delightful to have lots of money, and no need to worry about things, isn't it? MRS. LINDEN. Yes; at any rate it must be delightful to have what you need. NORA. No, not only what you need, but heaps of money- heaps! MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling.] Nora, Nora, haven't you learnt reason yet? In our school days you were a shocking little spendthrift. NORA. [Quietly smiling.] Yes; that's what Torvald says I am still. [Holding up her forefinger.] But "Nora, Nora" is not so silly as you all think. Oh! I haven't had the chance to be much of a spendthrift. We have both had to work. MRS. LINDEN. You too? NORA. Yes, light fancy work: crochet, and embroidery, and things of that sort; [Carelessly] and other work too. You know, of course, that Torvald left the Government service when we were married. He had little chance of promotion, and of course he required to make more money. But in the first year after our marriage he overworked himself terribly. He had to undertake all sorts of extra work, you know, and to slave early and late. He couldn't stand it, and fell dangerously ill. Then the doctors declared he must go to the South. MRS. LINDEN. You spent a whole year in Italy, didn't you? NORA. Yes, we did. It wasn't easy to manage, I can tell you. It was just after Ivar's birth. But of course we had to go. Oh, it was a wonderful, delicious journey! And it saved Torvald's life. But it cost a frightful lot of money, Christina. -5- MRS. LINDEN. So I should think. NORA. Twelve hundred dollars! Four thousand eight hundred crowns! * Isn't that a lot of money? * The dollar (4s. 6d.) was the old unit of currency in Norway. The crown was substituted for it shortly before the date of this play. MRS. LINDEN. How lucky you had the money to spend! NORA. We got it from father, you must know. MRS. LINDEN. Ah, I see. He died just about that time, didn't he? NORA. Yes, Christina, just then. And only think! I couldn't go and nurse him! I was expecting little Ivar's birth daily; and then I had my poor sick Torvald to attend to. Dear, kind old father! I never saw him again, Christina. Oh! that's the hardest thing I have had to bear since my marriage. MRS. LINDEN. I know how fond you were of him. But then you went to Italy? NORA. Yes; you see, we had the money, and the doctors said we must lose no time. We started a month later. MRS. LINDEN. And your husband came back completely cured. NORA. Sound as a bell. MRS. LINDEN. But- the doctor? NORA. What do you mean? MRS. LINDEN. I thought as I came in your servant announced the doctorNORA. Oh, yes; Doctor Rank. But he doesn't come professionally. He is our best friend, and never lets a day pass without looking in. No, Torvald hasn't had an hour's illness since that time. And the children are so healthy and well, and so am I. [Jumps up and claps her hands.] Oh, Christina, Christina, what a wonderful thing it is to live and to be happy!- Oh, but it's really too horrid of me! Here am I talking about nothing but my own concerns. [Seats herself upon a footstool close to CHRISTINA, and lays her arms on her friend's lap.] Oh. don't be angry with me! Now tell me, is it really true that you didn't love your husband? What made you marry him, then? MRS. LINDEN. My mother was still alive, you see, bedridden and helpless; and then I had my two younger brothers to think of. I didn't think it would be right for me to refuse him. NORA. Perhaps it wouldn't have been. I suppose he was rich then? MRS. LINDEN. Very well off, I believe. But his business was uncertain. It fell to pieces at his death, and there was nothing left. NORA. And then-? MRS. LINDEN. Then I had to fight my way by keeping a shop, a little school, anything I could turn my hand to. The last three years have been one long struggle for me. But now it is over, Nora. My poor mother no longer needs me; she is at rest. And the boys are in business, and can look after themselves. NORA. How free your life must feel! MRS. LINDEN. No, Nora; only inexpressibly empty. No one to live for! [Stands up restlessly.] That's why I could not bear to stay any longer in that out-of-the-way corner. Here it must be easier to find something to take one up- to occupy one's thoughts. If I could only get some settled employment- some office work. NORA. But, Christina, that's such drudgery, and you look worn out already. It would be ever so much better for you to go to some watering-place and rest. MRS. LINDEN [Going to the window.] I have no father to give me the money, Nora. NORA. [Rising.] Oh, don't be vexed with me. -6- MRS. LINDEN. [Going to her.] My dear Nora, don't you be vexed with me. The worst of a position like mine is that it makes one so bitter. You have no one to work for, yet you have to be always on the strain. You must live; and so you become selfish. When I heard of the happy change in your fortunes- can you believe it?I was glad for my own sake more than for yours. NORA. How do you mean? Ah, I see! You think Torvald can perhaps do something for you. MRS. LINDEN. Yes; I thought so. NORA. And so he shall, Christina. Just you leave it all to me. I shall lead up to it beautifully!- I shall think of some delightful plan to put him in a good humour! Oh, I should so love to help you. MRS. LINDEN. How good of you, Nora, to stand by me so warmly! Doubly good in you, who knows so little of the troubles and burdens of life. NORA. I? I know so little of-? MRS. LINDEN. [Smiling.] Oh, well- a little fancy-work, and so forth.- You're a child, Nora. NORA. [Tosses her head and paces the room.] Oh, come, you mustn't be so patronising! MRS. LINDEN. No? NORA. You're like the rest. You all think I'm fit for nothing really seriousMRS. LINDEN. Well, wellNORA. You think I've had no troubles in this weary world. MRS. LINDEN. My dear Nora, you've just told me all your troubles. NORA. Pooh- those trifles! [Softly.] I haven't told you the great thing. MRS. LINDEN. The great thing? What do you mean? NORA. I know you look down upon me, Christina; but you have no right to. You are proud of having worked so hard and so long for your mother. MRS. LINDEN. I am sure I don't look down upon any one; but it's true I am both proud and glad when I remember that I was able to keep my mother's last days free from care. NORA. And you're proud to think of what you have done for your brothers, too. MRS. LINDEN. Have I not the right to be? NORA. Yes indeed. But now let me tell you, Christina- I, too, have something to be proud and glad of. MRS. LINDEN. I don't doubt it. But what do ...
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS A DOLL’S HOUSE, BEAUTY AND THE GLASS
MENAGERIE
Part 1: Discuss the idea of individuality as it applies to Nora Helmer in Ibsen’s- A Doll’s House
The concept of individuality can be understood as those peculiar qualities or characters that
helps in distinguishing one person from the other or one thing from the other. In Ibsen’s A Doll’s
House, individual liberty is one of the major concerns in the play. The author uses Nora who is a
female to portray the need for individual freedom. Nora who is the central character of the play
struggles by all means so as to be a self-dependent person.
First, Nora wants to educate herself by seeking her identity as a woman. She makes a bold
decision of leaving her husband and the three children not just for the sake of freeing herself from
the marriage life in the male dominated society they are living in but so as to have his own way
out of the masculine York. She wants to learn more about herself as a woman so as to be able to
establish her own identity and thus develop a sense of individuality.
At the beginning of the play, Nora has no speech in her marriage. She is expected to do
everything dictated by her husband, Torvald who treats her as his own personal property without
questioning. However, Nora learns that the societal norms in this patriarchal society does not

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guarantee a woman with freedom...

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