Book Art Tale: A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

Watercolor art (pen and watercolor ink, 2018) inspired by the book

– Nora’s quote (Act III) “I have other duties equally sacred…duties to myself”.
– Nora eats sweets/ macaroon in secret (Act I). Her husband has banned macaroon as he thinks that they are bad for Nora’s teeth.
– Norwegian flag shows the author’s country of origin.
– Doll house is the title of the play which resemble’s Nora’s home (see book excerpt below).- Theater curtains show that this is a theatrical play in 3 Acts.
– The doll (Nora) is dressed as a Neapolitan fisher-girl (Act II). She dances Tarantella for her husband who likes to show her off.
– The doll (Nora) is holding a bank note of 4800 Kronen. In Act II she admits to Mrs. Linde that she has borrowed money without her husband’s knowledge and has also forged her father’s signature on that bank note.
– “Et Dukkenheim” is the original title of the theatrical play in Norwegian, which is translated in English as “A Doll House”.
– 12.1879, The date has a twofold meaning, (1) the play takes place on Christmas and (2) the book was published in December 1879.
– Inside the dollhouse: (a) music notes that indicate the dance music (tarantella) that is heard in the room above (b) books that are relevant to Henrik Ibsen (e.g. The Wild Duct, Acts I-II-III), (c)the clock hands show 17:00 which is the start of the Tarantella scene (Act II).
– The Letterbox has Krogstadt’s bank note and Mr. Rank’s card with a black cross on it.

Excerpt from the book

Act III

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 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?

Helmer. Both yours and the children’s, my darling Nora.

Nora. Alas, Torvald, you are not the man to educate me into being a proper wife for you.

Helmer. And you can say that!

Nora. And I–how am I fitted to bring up the children?

Helmer. Nora!

Nora. Didn’t you say so yourself a little while ago–that you dare not trust me to bring them up?

Helmer. In a moment of anger! Why do you pay any heed to that?

Nora. Indeed, you were perfectly right. I am not fit for the task. There is another task I must undertake first. I must try and educate myself–you are not the man to help me in that. I must do that for myself. And that is why I am going to leave you now.

Helmer [springing up]. What do you say?

Nora. I must stand quite alone, if I am to understand myself and everything about me. It is for that reason that I cannot remain with you any longer.

Helmer. Nora, Nora!

Nora. I am going away from here now, at once. I am sure Christine will take me in for the night-

Helmer. You are out of your mind! I won’t allow it! I forbid you!

Nora. It is no use forbidding me anything any longer. I will take with me what belongs to myself. I will take nothing from you, either now or later.

Helmer. What sort of madness is this!

Nora. Tomorrow I shall go home-I mean, to my old home. It will be easiest for me to find something to do there.

Helmer. You blind, foolish woman!

Nora. I must try and get some sense, Torvald.

Helmer. To desert your home, your husband and your children! And you don’t consider what people will say!

Nora. I cannot consider that at all. I only know that it is necessary for me.

Helmer. It’s shocking. This is how you would neglect your most sacred duties.

Nora. What do you consider my most sacred duties?

Helmer. Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to your husband and your children?

Nora. I have other duties just as sacred.

Helmer. That you have not. What duties could those be?

Nora. Duties to myself.

Helmer. Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.

Nora. I don’t believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are–or, at all events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say, or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.

Helmer. Can you not understand your place in your own home? Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as that?–have you no religion?

Nora. I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is.

Helmer. What are you saying?

Nora. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that, and the other. When I am away from all this, and am alone, I will look into that matter too. I will see if what the clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is true for me.

Helmer. This is unheard of in a girl of your age! But if religion cannot lead you aright, let me try and awaken your conscience. I suppose you have some moral sense? Or–answer me–am I to think you have none?

Nora. I assure you, Torvald, that is not an easy question to answer. I really don’t know. The thing perplexes me altogether. I only know that you and I look at it in quite a different light. I am learning, too, that the law is quite another thing from what I supposed; but I find it impossible to convince myself that the law is right. According to it a woman has no right to spare her old dying father, or to save her husband’s life. I can’t believe that.

Helmer. You talk like a child. You don’t understand the conditions of the world in which you live.

Nora. No, I don’t. But now I am going to try. I am going to see if I can make out who is right, the world or I.

Helmer. You are ill, Nora; you are delirious; I almost think you are out of your mind.

Nora. I have never felt my mind so clear and certain as tonight.

Helmer. And is it with a clear and certain mind that you forsake your husband and your children?

Nora. Yes, it is.

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