Nora. Then that was why this poor Krogstad—
Nora (leans against the back of his chair and strokes his hair). If you hadn’t been so busy I should have asked you a tremendously big favour, Torvald.
Helmer. What is that? Tell me.
Nora. There is no one has such good taste as you. And I do so want to look nice at the fancy-dress ball. Torvald, couldn’t you take me in hand and decide what I shall go as, and what sort of a dress I shall wear?
Helmer. Aha! so my obstinate little woman is obliged to get someone to come to her rescue?
Nora. Yes, Torvald, I can’t get along a bit without your help.
Helmer Very well, I will think it over, we shall manage to hit upon something.
Nora. That is nice of you. (Goes to the Christmas Tree. A short pause.) How pretty the red flowers look—. But, tell me, was it really something very bad that this Krogstad was guilty of?
Helmer. He forged someone’s name. Have you any idea what that means?
Nora. Isn’t it possible that he was driven to do it by necessity?
Helmer. Yes; or, as in so many cases, by imprudence. I am not so heartless as to condemn a man altogether because of a single false step of that kind.
Nora. No you wouldn’t, would you, Torvald?
Helmer. Many a man has been able to retrieve his character, if he has openly confessed his fault and taken his punishment.
Helmer. But Krogstad did nothing of that sort; he got himself out of it by a cunning trick, and that is why he has gone under altogether.
Nora. But do you think it would—?
Helmer. Just think how a guilty man like that has to lie and play the hypocrite with 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. And about the children—that is the most terrible part of it all, Nora.
Helmer. 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 (coming nearer him). Are you sure of that?
Helmer. My dear, I have often seen it in the course of my life as a lawyer. Almost everyone who has gone to the bad early in life has had a deceitful mother.
Nora. Why do you only say—mother?
Helmer. It seems most commonly to be the mother’s influence, though naturally a bad father’s would have the same result. Every lawyer is familiar with the fact. This Krogstad, now, has been persistently poisoning his own children with lies and dissimulation; that is why I say he has lost all moral character. (Holds out his hands to her.) That is why my sweet little Nora must promise me not to plead his cause. Give me your hand on it. Come, come, what is this? Give me your hand. There now, that’s settled. I assure you it would be quite impossible for me to work with him; I literally feel physically ill when I am in the company of such people.