Across the horizon: the rising sun and endless possibilities
 
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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Doll's House, A:
Act 1, Part 2

Nora introduces her husband to Mrs. Linde and petitions him on the latter's behalf. After asking her some questions and being satisfied with her qualifications, Helmer says he might have a job for her. Nora is delighted; Mrs. Linde is thankful. Then Nora's children come running in, followed by their nurse, and Helmer, Dr. Rank, and Mrs. Linde go out.

Left alone with her children, Nora and they play hide-and-seek. They laugh and talk nonsense to each other, and Nora calls them (echoing Helmer's terms for her) "nice little dolly children." Because they are laughing and shouting, they don't hear a knock at the door. Krogstad enters, startling Nora. He says he wants to speak with her. She sends the children out. Krogstad asks if that was Mrs. Linde who was here before, and whether she has been given a job at the bank. In a tone both defensive and haughty, Nora replies that he, one of her husband's subordinates, has no right to question her. But she answers anyway: Yes, her husband has given Mrs. Linde a job, "And it was I who pleaded her cause." She boasts that although she is a woman she has some influence, and warns Krogstad to avoid offending his superiors. Krogstad then asks if she will use her influence to help him keep his job, for it seems he is being fired from the bank. He thinks that Mrs. Linde, with whom he has some as-yet-undisclosed history, asked Helmer to fire him so that she would not have to see him. Nora becomes distressed and argues, contrary to what she said before, that she has no influence of that kind. Krogstad replies that he is prepared to fight hard for his job. He relates how once, long ago, he committed an "indiscretion" for which he lost his job and reputation. So he took to moneylending. (It is clear now that Krogstad is the one who loaned Nora the money.) Finally, he got this job at the bank, and he considers it his only chance of rising back up in the world and regaining the respect of society and his family. Nora pleads that she can't help him; Krogstad says he can compel her. She sobs, says he can't tell Helmer their secret. He says that he can, and what's more, it's worse than she thinks, because he knows another secret, which is that her father did not co-sign the note for the loan�she forged his signature and accidentally dated it three days after his death. She protests that her father was dying, and her husband was dying, and she had to protect both from the knowledge of what she was doing. Krogstad says the law cares nothing for motives. Nora cries, "Is a daughter not to be allowed to spare her dying father anxiety and care? Is a wife not to be allowed to save her husband's life?" Unmoved, Krogstad warns that if he loses his job, she will go down with him.

As Krogstad is leaving, Nora's children rush in, demanding she play with them. She sends them back out, in great distress, but pretending to be happy.

Alone again, she trims the tree and talks nervously to herself: "The horrible man! It's all nonsense�there's nothing wrong. The tree shall be splendid! I will do everything I can think of to please you, Torvald! I will sing for you, dance for you..." Just then Helmer returns. He asks if anyone has been here; she lies "No." But he saw Krogstad leaving, he says, and he divines that the man had been there begging Nora to put in a good word for him. Helmer scolds her like a child for lying to him: "My little songbird must never do that again. A songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with�no false notes!" He ends the discussion and sits. Nora appears to be thinking. She mentions the fancy-dress ball they will be attending the day after Christmas, and then she begins to flatter him and to create a sense of her dependence on him, saying that she needs his help thinking of a costume, that she's too silly to do it on her own. After a while, she asks what indiscretion Krogstad was guilty of, and Helmer says it was forgery. "I am not so heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false step," he says, "if he has openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment ... But Krogstad did nothing of the sort ... Just think how a guilty man like that must lie and play the hypocrite to everyone, how he has to wear a mask in the presence of those near and dear to him, even before his own wife and children ... that is the most terrible part of all ... because such an atmosphere of lies infects and poisons the whole life of a home. Each breath the children take in such a house is full of the germs of evil." Nora, obviously thinking of her own case, asks if he is sure of this. He says yes, and adds that "Almost everyone who has gone to bad early in life has had a deceitful mother." He then asks her to promise not to plead Krogstad's cause anymore. She turns away. He gets up, says good-bye to his "precious little singing bird," and goes to his study.

Alone on stage, Nora whispers to herself, "No, no�it isn't true. It's impossible." The nurse enters and says the children wish to see her. She exclaims, "No, no, no! Don't let them come in to me!" The nurse leaves. Nora is "pale with terror." She asks herself, "Deprave my children? Poison my home? ... It can't possibly be true."

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Act 1, Part 1
Act 1, Part 2
Act 2, Part 1
Act 2, Part 2
Act 3, Part 1
Act 3, Part 2
Act 3, Part 3


 

 



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