Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen

(Norwegian dramatist, 1828–1906. A play which may be called the source of the modern Feminist movement. In the following scene a young wife announces her revolt)
NORA:—While I was at home with father, he used to tell me his opinions, and I held the same opinions. If I had others, I concealed them, because he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his doll-child, and played with me as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house—
  HELMER:—What an expression to use about our marriage!
  NORA (undisturbed):—I mean I passed from father’s hands into yours. You settled everything according to your taste; and I got the same tastes as you; or I pretended to—I don’t know which—both ways, perhaps. When I look back on it now, I seem to have been living here like a beggar, from hand to mouth. I lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father have done me a great wrong. It is your fault that my life has been wasted.
  HELMER:—Why, Nora, how unreasonable and ungrateful you are. Haven’t you been happy here?
  NORA:—No, only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But your house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa’s doll-child. And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald.… And that is why I am now leaving you!        5
  HELMER (jumping up):—What—do you mean to say—
  NORA:—I must stand quite alone, to know myself and my surroundings; so I can’t stay with you.
  HELMER:—Nora! Nora!
  NORA:—I am going at once. Christina will take me for tonight.
  HELMER:—You are mad! I shall not allow it. I forbid it.        10
  NORA:—It is no use your forbidding me anything now. I shall take with me what belongs to me. From you I will accept nothing, either now or afterwards.…
  HELMER:—To forsake your home, your husband, and your children! You don’t consider what the world will say.
  NORA:—I can pay no heed to that. I only know what I must do.
  HELMER:—It is exasperating! Can you forsake your holiest duties in this world?
  NORA:—What do you call my holiest duties?        15
  HELMER:—Do you ask me that? Your duties to your husband and your children.
  NORA:—I have other duties equally sacred.
  HELMER:—Impossible! What duties do you mean?
  NORA:—My duties towards myself.
  HELMER:—Before all else you are a wife and a mother.        20
  NORA:—That I no longer believe. I think that before all else I am a human being, just as much as you are—or at least I will try to become one.

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