A Doll's New House

     After I read Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House, and watched the 1973 movie, directed by Joseph Losey and starring Jane Fonda as Nora and David Warner as Torvald, I created a sequel to the play that gave both Nora and Torvald what they deserved.


     It is a small but tastefully furnished apartment. The furniture is spare, but adequate. The curtains at the window, and the coverlets on the furniture are white, giving the room a clean and light appearance. A large bouquet of red and yellow tulips is on a table next to a bowl of chocolates. It is late afternoon in May. The doorbell rings; and NORA enters from a side room,her posture erect, her countenance one of poise and confidence. She crosses to the door and opens it, and CHRISTINE enters.

CHRISTINE: (as she embraces Nora)    My dear Nora, I came as soon as I got your message. I trust you are well?

NORA:    I am well, Christine; thank you for coming. And you and Nils, all is well with you and the children?

CHRISTINE:    Quite well, thank you. But Nora, wherever have you been? We have been most distressed these last few months with no word. Have you seen the children and Torvald?

NORA:   All in good time, dear Christine. Let us be seated and visit for a time. As for Torvald and the children, I shall see them this very day. I sent word for them to join me here this evening. Have you seen my children lately?

CHRISTINE:    Yes, just yesterday. They are quite well and getting along in their studies. Of course, they have seemed a little sad these past six months. Nora, dear, how could you leave them without word? And how have you existed? Are you sure that you are quite well?

NORA:    I assure you I am fine, Christine. And it is time you should know of my doings since we last met. You remember the day I left, the day I learned that Dr. Rank had died?

CHRISTINE:   Of course, Nora. I know how terribly fond of him you were. But to disappear so suddenly, dear, with only a brief note that you were going!

NORA:    Yes, well, that morning of his death I received notice of a legal nature that needed attending to. Imagine my surprise to learn that Dr. Rank had left me quite a tidy sum of money. He was quite specific in his bequest as to how it should be used. In that regard, I think perhaps he knew me better than I knew myself. It was his wish that I should have something for myself, all my own, to remember him by, and that I should use the money in a way that I would not have used money from Torvald.

CHRISTINE: (beginning to weep)   I'm sorry, Nora dear. It's just that I am so overwhelmed with relief that you are safe and home. We have been so worried. Torvald has been beside himself, and at the same time trying to be brave in front of the children. He gives them hopefully vague answers to their little questions. Have you no feeling for your children, Nora?

NORA:    Indeed I do and it is for their benefit that I returned, else I may have stayed away indefinitely. The climate of southern Italy is quite agreeable to me.

CHRISTINE:    Have you been there all this time?

NORA:    Yes, I left the day I received the inheritance. I made my way to Taranto, at the very end of Italy, and there I stayed until nearly a month ago. Such a lovely place, Christine, filled with light, so warm and free. I swear I felt quite the native in no time.

CHRISTINE: (drying her eyes)    Please do continue. I want to hear everything.

NORA: (getting up and striding about the room as she speaks)    During the first few days after leaving Torvald and the children, I was filled with a strange exhilaration. I know I should have been frightened and unsure, but it was quite the opposite with me. Then, almost at the same time, the money came from Dr. Rank and it was as if a sign from heaven had been given. I felt that, if I didn't leave right then, I might somehow lose my nerve. I was, after all, beginning to miss the children by that time.

CHRISTINE: (hopefully)    So, you have come for the children?

NORA: (with a slight smile)   Not at all. I have realized that I want to be near my children, in the same town with them. But Torvald would never let them go; they are too much a part of me. No, I wish to be near my children, and see them of course, but I will never return to Torvald. That chapter of my life is closed forever, Christine.

CHRISTINE:    You sound as though you are quite sure. Are you quite so sure that Torvald will abide by your wishes?

NORA:    Dear Christine, he has no other choice. Ours will be a cordial relationship; our only joint concern will be the welfare of the children. In time, I am quite sure he will become accustomed to it.

CHRISTINE:    How will you fill your days?

NORA:    My dear, you sound as though a husband and children, or rather, the lack thereof, should be the total ruin of a woman. I assure you I have every intention of filling my days completely, indeed, I have already begun. I have secured employment for myself, for I intend to save the rest of what Dr. Rank so graciously bestowed upon me. All those years of saving and working diligently behind closed doors left me quite prepared to fend for myself. But tell me, Christine, are you happy with Nils?

CHRISTINE:    (looking down furtively at her hands) Happy? No, I don't think we are happy in the traditional sense of the word. Nils seems, well, grateful is the word I think. And I-- --I am content to be with someone who needs me. And of course, his children are really very dear to me now.

NORA:    Things change; that is the only constant in the world, my dear. I have embraced the changes in my life, and I intend to look no further backward than today. I have such hope, Christine, for there is a peace within me, a knowing of myself. I feel like one of these tulips. Can you understand? I was there all along, inside myself, waiting for something I don't know, a spark, a little sunshine, understanding. I think we all need those things. And when we finally get them, it is as though something came along and forced us to grow, to blossom. I like the new me, and I don't intend to return to the bulb that was the old me.

CHRISTINE:    My dear, I think it is a brave thing you do, and more than a little frightening. But are you quite sure of what you doing?

NORA:    I am most assured, dear friend. And now, if you will excuse me, I must make ready to receive the children. They should be arriving shortly.

CHRISTINE: (turning to Nora at the door)    Can you be truly happy here alone?

NORA:    I did not say I should be always alone. I have not closed my heart, quite the contrary. There may be romance in my life again; in fact, I'm counting on it. But it will not come from my past; that much is certain. There is no future in the past.

Nora and Christine embrace, Christine leaves, Nora closes the door and turning with a smile walks over to the table, picks up a chocolate and pops it into her mouth, then disappears through the side door.

Wade Kingston

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