A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act III

NORA.
(taking a step towards him). Torvald — !

HELMER.
Miserable creature — what have you done?

NORA.
Let me go. You shall not suffer for my sake. You shall not take it upon yourself.

HELMER.
No tragedy airs, please. (Locks the hall door.) Here you shall stay and give me an explanation. Do you understand what you have done? Answer me? Do you understand what you have done?

NORA.
(looks steadily at him and says with a growing look of coldness in her face). Yes, now I am beginning to understand thoroughly.

HELMER.
(walking about the room). What a horrible awakening! All these eight years — she who was my joy and pride — a hypocrite, a liar — worse, worse — a criminal! The unutterable ugliness of it all! — For shame! For shame! (NORA is silent and looks steadily at him. He stops in front of her.) I ought to have suspected that something of the sort would happen. I ought to have foreseen it. All your father's want of principle — be silent! — all your father's want of principle has come out in you. No religion, no morality, no sense of duty — How I am punished for having winked at what he did! I did it for your sake, and this is how you repay me.

NORA.
Yes, that's just it.

HELMER.
Now you have destroyed all my happiness. You have ruined all my future. It is horrible to think of! I am in the power of an unscrupulous man; he can do what he likes with me, ask anything he likes of me, give me any orders he pleases — I dare not refuse. And I must sink to such miserable depths because of a thoughtless woman!

NORA.
When I am out of the way, you will be free.

HELMER.
No fine speeches, please. Your father had always plenty of those ready, too. What good would it be to me if you were out of the way, as you say? Not the slightest. He can make the affair known everywhere; and if he does, I may be falsely suspected of having been a party to your criminal action. Very likely people will think I was behind it all — that it was I who prompted you! And I have to thank you for all this — you whom I have cherished during the whole of our married life. Do you understand now what it is you have done for me?

NORA.
(coldly and quietly). Yes.

HELMER.
It is so incredible that I can't take it in. But we must come to some understanding. Take off that shawl. Take it off, I tell you. I must try and appease him some way or another. The matter must be hushed up at any cost. And as for you and me, it must appear as if everything between us were as before — but naturally only in the eyes of the world. You will still remain in my house, that is a matter of course. But I shall not allow you to bring up the children; I dare not trust them to you. To think that I should be obliged to say so to one whom I have loved so dearly, and whom I still — . No, that is all over. From this moment happiness is not the question; all that concerns us is to save the remains, the fragments, the appearance —

(A ring is heard at the front-door bell.)

HELMER.
(with a start). What is that? So late! Can the worst — ? Can he — ? Hide yourself, Nora. Say you are ill.

(NORA stands motionless. HELMER goes and unlocks the hall door.)

MAID.
(half-dressed, comes to the door). A letter for the mistress.

HELMER.
Give it to me. (Takes the letter, and shuts the door.) Yes, it is from him. You shall not have it; I will read it myself.

NORA.
Yes, read it.

HELMER.
(standing by the lamp). I scarcely have the courage to do it. It may mean ruin for both of us. No, I must know. (Tears open the letter, runs his eye over a few lines, looks at a paper enclosed, and gives a shout of joy.) Nora! (She looks at him, questioningly.) Nora! No, I must read it once again — . Yes, it is true! I am saved! Nora, I am saved!

NORA.
And I?

HELMER.
You too, of course; we are both saved, both saved, both you and I. Look, he sends you your bond back. He says he regrets and repents — that a happy change in his life — never mind what he says! We are saved, Nora! No one can do anything to you. Oh, Nora, Nora! — no, first I must destroy these hateful things. Let me see — . (Takes a look at the bond.) No, no, I won't look at it. The whole thing shall be nothing but a bad dream to me. (Tears up the bond and both letters, throws them all into the stove, and watches them burn.) There — now it doesn't exist any longer. He says that since Christmas Eve you — . These must have been three dreadful days for you, Nora.

NORA.
I have fought a hard fight these three days.

HELMER.
And suffered agonies, and seen no way out but — . No, we won't call any of the horrors to mind. We will only shout with joy, and keep saying, "It's all over! It's all over!" Listen to me, Nora. You don't seem to realise that it is all over. What is this? — such a cold, set face! My poor little Nora, I quite understand; you don't feel as if you could believe that I have forgiven you. But it is true, Nora, I swear it; I have forgiven you everything. I know that what you did, you did out of love for me.

NORA.
That is true.

HELMER.
You have loved me as a wife ought to love her husband. Only you had not sufficient knowledge to judge of the means you used. But do you suppose you are any the less dear to me, because you don't understand how to act on your own responsibility? No, no; only lean on me; I will advise you and direct you. I should not be a man if this womanly helplessness did not just give you a double attractiveness in my eyes. You must not think any more about the hard things I said in my first moment of consternation, when I thought everything was going to overwhelm me. I have forgiven you, Nora; I swear to you I have forgiven you.

NORA.
Thank you for your forgiveness. (She goes out through the door to the right.)

HELMER.
No, don't go — . (Looks in.) What are you doing in there?

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