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Torvald is not so much in love with me as he is now,” she may tell him the great secret
of how she saved his life. It is notable throughout that neither Helmer’s aestheticism
nor the sensual element in his relation to Nora is nearly so much emphasised as in the
completed play; while Nora’s tendency to small fibbing-that vice of the unfree-is
almost an afterthought. In the first appearance of Krogstad, and the indication of his
old acquaintance with Mrs. Linden, many small adjustments have been made, all
strikingly for the better. The first scene with Dr. Rank,- originally called Dr. Hank-has
been almost entirely rewritten. There is in the draft no indication of the doctor’s ill-
health or of his pessimism; it seems as though he had at first been designed as a mere
confidant or raisonneur. This is how he talks: HANK Hallo! what’s this? A new carpet?
I congratulate you! Now take, for example, a handsome carpet like this; is it a luxury? I
say it isn’t. Such a carpet is a paying investment; with it underfoot, one has higher,
subtler thoughts, and finer feelings, than when one moves over cold, creaking planks in
a comfortless room. Especially where there are children in the house. The race ennobles
itself in a beautiful environment.
NORA Oh, how often I have felt the same, but could never express it.
HANK No, I dare say not. It is an observation in spiritual statistics-a science as yet
very little cultivated. As to Krogstad, the doctor remarks: If Krogstad’s home had been,
so to speak, on the sunny side of life, with all the spiritual windows opening towards
the light,... I dare say he might have been a decent enough fellow, like the rest of us.
MRS. LINDEN You mean that he is not....?
HANK He cannot be. His marriage was not of the kind to make it possible. An
unhappy marriage, Mrs. Linden, is like small-pox: it scars the soul.
NORA And what does a happy marriage do? HANK It is like a “cure” at the baths; it
expels all peccant humours, and makes all that is good and fine in a man grow and
It is notable that we find in this scene nothing of Nora’s glee on learning that Krogstad
is now dependent on her husband; that fine touch of dramatic irony was an
afterthought. After Helmer’s entrance, the talk is very different in the original version.
He remarks upon the painful interview he has just had with Krogstad, whom he is
forced to dismiss from the bank; Nora, in a mild way, pleads for him; and the doctor, in
the name of the survival of the fittest, 4 denounces humanitarian sentimentality, and
then goes off to do his best to save a patient who, he con4 It is noteworthy that
Darwin’s two great books were translated into Danish very shortly before Ibsen began
to work at A Doll’s House.
fesses, would be much better dead. This discussion of the Krogstad question before
Nora has learnt how vital it is to her, manifestly discounts the effect of the scenes which
are to follow: and Ibsen, on revision, did away with it entirely. Nora’s romp with the
children, interrupted by the entrance of Krogstad, stands very much as in the final
version; and in the scene with Krogstad there is no essential change. One detail is worth
noting, as an instance of the art of working up an effect. In the first version, when
Krogstad says, “Mrs. Stenborg, you must see to it that I keep my place in the bank,”
Nora replies: “I? How can you think that I have any such influence with my
husband?”- a natural but not specially effective remark. But in the final version she has