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.
Nora (takes her hand out of his and goes to the opposite side of the Christmas Tree). How hot it is in here; and I have such a lot to do.
Helmer (getting up and putting his papers in order). Yes, and I must try and read through some of these before dinner; and I must think about your costume, too. And it is just possible I may have something ready in gold paper to hang up on the Tree. (Puts his hand on her head.) My precious little singing-bird! (He goes into his room and shuts the door after him.)
Nora (after a pause, whispers). No, no—it isn’t true. It’s impossible; it must be impossible.
(The nurse opens the door on the left.)
Nurse. The little ones are begging so hard to be allowed to come in to mamma.
Nora. No, no, no! Don’t let them come in to me! You stay with them, Anne.
Nurse. Very well, ma’am. (Shuts the door.)
Nora (pale with terror). Deprave my little children? Poison my home? (A short pause. Then she tosses her head.) It’s not true. It can’t possibly be true.
(The same scene.—The Christmas Tree is in the corner by the piano, stripped of its ornaments and with burnt-down candle-ends on its dishevelled branches. Nora’s cloak and hat are lying on the sofa. She is alone in the room, walking about uneasily. She stops by the sofa and takes up her cloak.)
Nora (drops her cloak). Someone is coming now! (Goes to the door and listens.) No—it is no one. Of course, no one will come today, Christmas Day—nor tomorrow either. But, perhaps—(opens the door and looks out). No, nothing in the letterbox; it is quite empty. (Comes forward.) What rubbish! of course he can’t be in earnest about it. Such a thing couldn’t happen; it is impossible—I have three little children.