A Doll's House By Henrik Ibsen Act III

NORA.
It gives me great pain, Torvald, for you have always been so kind to me, but I cannot help it. I do not love you any more.

HELMER.
(regaining his composure). Is that a clear and certain conviction too?

NORA.
Yes, absolutely clear and certain. That is the reason why I will not stay here any longer.

HELMER.
And can you tell me what I have done to forfeit your love?

NORA.
Yes, indeed I can. It was to-night, when the wonderful thing did not happen; then I saw you were not the man I had thought you.

HELMER.
Explain yourself better — I don't understand you.

NORA.
I have waited so patiently for eight years; for, goodness knows, I knew very well that wonderful things don't happen every day. Then this horrible misfortune came upon me; and then I felt quite certain that the wonderful thing was going to happen at last. When Krogstad's letter was lying out there, never for a moment did I imagine that you would consent to accept this man's conditions. I was so absolutely certain that you would say to him: Publish the thing to the whole world. And when that was done —

HELMER.
Yes, what then? — when I had exposed my wife to shame and disgrace?

NORA.
When that was done, I was so absolutely certain, you would come forward and take everything upon yourself, and say: I am the guilty one.

HELMER.
Nora — !

NORA.
You mean that I would never have accepted such a sacrifice on your part? No, of course not. But what would my assurances have been worth against yours? That was the wonderful thing which I hoped for and feared; and it was to prevent that, that I wanted to kill myself.

HELMER.
I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora — bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honour for the one he loves.

NORA.
It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.

HELMER.
Oh, you think and talk like a heedless child.

NORA.
Maybe. But you neither think nor talk like the man I could bind myself to. As soon as your fear was over — and it was not fear for what threatened me, but for what might happen to you — when the whole thing was past, as far as you were concerned it was exactly as if nothing at all had happened. Exactly as before, I was your little skylark, your doll, which you would in future treat with doubly gentle care, because it was so brittle and fragile. (Getting up.) Torvald — it was then it dawned upon me that for eight years I had been living here with a strange man, and had borne him three children — . Oh! I can't bear to think of it! I could tear myself into little bits!

HELMER.
(sadly). I see, I see. An abyss has opened between us — there is no denying it. But, Nora, would it not be possible to fill it up?

NORA.
As I am now, I am no wife for you.

HELMER.
I have it in me to become a different man.

NORA.
Perhaps — if your doll is taken away from you.

HELMER.
But to part! — to part from you! No, no, Nora, I can't understand that idea.

NORA.
(going out to the right). That makes it all the more certain that it must be done. (She comes back with her cloak and hat and a small bag which she puts on a chair by the table.)

HELMER.
Nora, Nora, not now! Wait till tomorrow.

NORA.
(putting on her cloak). I cannot spend the night in a strange man's room.

HELMER.
But can't we live here like brother and sister — ?

NORA.
(putting on her hat). You know very well that would not last long. (Puts the shawl round her.) Good-bye, Torvald. I won't see the little ones. I know they are in better hands than mine. As I am now, I can be of no use to them.

HELMER.
But some day, Nora — some day?

NORA.
How can I tell? I have no idea what is going to become of me.

HELMER.
But you are my wife, whatever becomes of you.

NORA.
Listen, Torvald. I have heard that when a wife deserts her husband's house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all obligations towards her. In any case I set you free from all your obligations. You are not to feel yourself bound in the slightest way, any more than I shall. There must be perfect freedom on both sides. See, here is your ring back. Give me mine.

HELMER.
That too?

NORA.
That too.

HELMER.
Here it is.

NORA.
That's right. Now it is all over. I have put the keys here. The maids know all about everything in the house — better than I do. Tomorrow, after I have left her, Christine will come here and pack up my own things that I brought with me from home. I will have them sent after me.

HELMER.
All over! All over! — Nora, shall you never think of me again?

NORA.
I know I shall often think of you and the children and this house.

HELMER.
May I write to you, Nora?

NORA.
No — never. You must not do that.

HELMER.
But at least let me send you —

NORA.
Nothing — nothing —

HELMER.
Let me help you if you are in want.

NORA.
No. I can receive nothing from a stranger.

HELMER.
Nora — can I never be anything more than a stranger to you?

NORA.
(taking her bag). Ah, Torvald, the most wonderful thing of all would have to happen.

HELMER.
Tell me what that would be!

NORA.
Both you and I would have to be so changed that — . Oh, Torvald, I don't believe any longer in wonderful things happening.

HELMER.
But I will believe in it. Tell me? So changed that — ?

NORA.
That our life together would be a real wedlock. Good-bye. (She goes out through the hall.)

HELMER.
(sinks down on a chair at the door and buries his face in his hands). Nora! Nora! (Looks round, and rises.) Empty. She is gone. (A hope flashes across his mind.) The most wonderful thing of all — ?

(The sound of a door shutting is heard from below.)

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