A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act I

MRS. LINDE.
(smiling). Nora, Nora, haven't you learnt 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, crochet-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 overworked 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 it —

MRS. LINDE.
No, indeed; I only feel my life unspeakably empty. No one to live for any more. (Gets up restlessly.) That is 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 look-out 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.

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