A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act III

NORA.
(from within). Taking off my fancy dress.

HELMER.
(standing at the open door). Yes, do. Try and calm yourself, and make your mind easy again, my frightened little singing-bird. Be at rest, and feel secure; I have broad wings to shelter you under. (Walks up and down by the door.) How warm and cosy our home is, Nora. Here is shelter for you; here I will protect you like a hunted dove that I have saved from a hawk's claws; I will bring peace to your poor beating heart. It will come, little by little, Nora, believe me. To-morrow morning you will look upon it all quite differently; soon everything will be just as it was before. Very soon you won't need me to assure you that I have forgiven you; you will yourself feel the certainty that I have done so. Can you suppose I should ever think of such a thing as repudiating you, or even reproaching you? You have no idea what a true man's heart is like, Nora. There is something so indescribably sweet and satisfying, to a man, in the knowledge that he has forgiven his wife — forgiven her freely, and with all his heart. It seems as if that had made her, as it were, doubly his own; he has given her a new life, so to speak; and she is in a way become both wife and child to him. So you shall be for me after this, my little scared, helpless darling. Have no anxiety about anything, Nora; only be frank and open with me, and I will serve as will and conscience both to you — . What is this? Not gone to bed? Have you changed your things?

NORA.
(in everyday dress). Yes, Torvald, I have changed my things now.

HELMER.
But what for? — so late as this.

NORA.
I shall not sleep tonight.

HELMER.
But, my dear Nora —

NORA.
(looking at her watch). It is not so very late. Sit down here, Torvald. You and I have much to say to one another. (She sits down at one side of the table.)

HELMER.
Nora — what is this? — this cold, set face?

NORA.
Sit down. It will take some time; I have a lot to talk over with you.

HELMER.
(sits down at the opposite side of the table). You alarm me, Nora! — and I don't understand you.

NORA.
No, that is just it. You don't understand me, and I have never understood you either — before tonight. No, you mustn't interrupt me. You must simply listen to what I say. Torvald, this is a settling of accounts.

HELMER.
What do you mean by that?

NORA.
(after a short silence). Isn't there one thing that strikes you as strange in our sitting here like this?

HELMER.
What is that?

NORA.
We have been married now eight years. Does it not occur to you that this is the first time we two, you and I, husband and wife, have had a serious conversation?

HELMER.
What do you mean by serious?

NORA.
In all these eight years — longer than that — from the very beginning of our acquaintance, we have never exchanged a word on any serious subject.

HELMER.
Was it likely that I would be continually and forever telling you about worries that you could not help me to bear?

NORA.
I am not speaking about business matters. I say that we have never sat down in earnest together to try and get at the bottom of anything.

HELMER.
But, dearest Nora, would it have been any good to you?

NORA.
That is just it; you have never understood me. I have been greatly wronged, Torvald — first by papa and then by you.

HELMER.
What! By us two — by us two, who have loved you better than anyone else in in the world?

NORA.
(shaking her head). You have never loved me. You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me.

HELMER.
Nora, what do I hear you saying?

NORA.
It is perfectly true, Torvald. When I was at home with papa, he told me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinions; and if I differed from him I concealed the fact, because he would not have liked it. He called me his doll-child, and he played with me just as I used to play with my dolls. And when I came to live with you —

HELMER.
What sort of an expression is that to use about our marriage?

NORA.
(undisturbed). I mean that I was simply transferred from papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything according to your own taste, and so I got the same tastes as you — or else I pretended to, I am really not quite sure which — I think sometimes the one and sometimes the other. When I look back on it, it seems to me as if I had been living here like a poor woman — just from hand to mouth. I have existed merely to perform tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and papa have committed a great sin against me. It is your fault that I have made nothing of my life.

HELMER.
How unreasonable and how ungrateful you are, Nora! Have you not been happy here?

NORA.
No, I have never been happy. I thought I was, but it has never really been so.

HELMER.
Not — not happy!

NORA.
No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was papa's doll-child; and here the children have been my dolls. I thought it great fun when you played with me, just as they thought it great fun when I played with them. That is what our marriage has been, Torvald.

HELMER.
There is some truth in what you say — exaggerated and strained as your view of it is. But for the future it shall be different. Playtime shall be over, and lesson-time shall begin.

NORA.
Whose lessons? Mine, or the children's?

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