Well, Damn!

As an assignment for the play we’ve just finished reading (Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House), I tasked my students to:

please imagine what happens to Nora immediately after the play ends.  She gets her cloak on and leaves Torvald at their apartment.  Her plan, as she states on page 1525, is to spend the night with Kristine and figure out what she’s going to do from there.  When she arrives at Kristine’s, one of three things could happen:

            1.  There is no one home.
            2.  Kristine is home alone.
            3.  Kristine and Krogstadt are both there.

Please imagine a full scene – what would happen as a consequence of the choice you made from the possible events that Nora could encounter at Kristine’s door?   Use what you know (or think you know) about the characters involved, try to use language and mannerisms that would suit the characters, and don’t be afraid to take risks and have fun with this.  You don’t HAVE to include stage directions (what the character is doing or where the character moves within the set), but please feel free to if you feel it enhances your work.

Don’t be afraid to tackle what you feel the most difficult choice would be – don’t worry if you can’t get EVERYTHING in just right; I’ll be more impressed if you take risks and try something hard and not do so well than if you take the easy way out and just phone this in.  With me, you get a lot of points for trying, even if you don’t quite succeed.

If you have any questions or problems, just let me know.  I’m VERY much looking forward to reading what you come up with for this assignment – there are a lot of great possibilities there.

I knew that their responses were going to be good: the discussions the play generated in class were intriguing and fun, and the students – pretty much all eight of them – were enthusiastic about and engaged in the work.

One of my students far exceeded even my high expectations, however.  The scene that he imagined is rich with emotion, no one says anything out of character, he even managed to capture a good bit of the speaking style of  the characters he chose to work with.  It’s an amazing bit of work, and it blew me away.  I have no crystal ball, but I still predict that this young man is going to do extremely well in this class.


[A knock is heard at Kristine’s door.  With an unsure look, Kristine presses her ear to the door.]

MRS. LINDE.  Who is it?
NORA.  [tonelessly].  It’s Nora.

[Kristine goes for the lock, but hesitates for a moment as if something has occurred to her…pause..After a deep breath, Kristine, unlocks the door and opens it.]

MRS. LINDE.  Nora!  Poor thing you look exhausted.  Do come in right away.

[Nora, with head down, strolls past Kristine and sits in the first chair she sees.]

MRS. LINDE.  Now what…
NORA.  Oh dear Kristine…I have left him.
MRS. LINDE.  Torvald?
NORA.  The man I presumed to be Torvald.
MRS. LINDE.  Nora, have you gone mad?
NORA.  Quite the opposite actually, I am seeing things now clearer than ever.  For years I was his pet, nothing more than a toy for him to play with.  For a time I dare say I was content to be so, but something has changed Kristine.  There has been a turn of events that any other day, I would have welcomed with open arms.  This time however, it only served to reveal the truth behind my marriage to HIM.
MRS. LINDE.  What turn of events Nora?
NORA.  Krogstad!
MRS. LINDE.  Krogstad…
NORA.  Yes, Krogstad.  He sent a letter, relieving us of my debt.  He said his “luck had changed” and even   returned my IOU.
MRS. LINDE.  Gracious.  It’s a miracle.  Is it not?
NORA.  It was not the miracle I was hoping for…[pauses]  I realized there would never, nor could there ever be love and honesty between us.  I could never love him.  I could never love myself and therefore, the children could never love me.
MRS. LINDE.  And what of the children?
NORA.  They will be fine with Anne Marie.  Oh dear Kristine, it pains me to leave them, but what good could I ever bring them?  I could only bring them sorrow.
MRS. LINDE.  But a mother’s duty is to her children.
NORA.  [Almost hissing] A mother’s duty.  A wife’s duty…A daughter’s duty… I’m finished being dutiful.  My father pledged my duty to him, then Torvald to him and now you bring up my duty as a mother.  How can I be so if I can’t be dutiful to myself?
MRS. LINDE.  Nora, I do believe you need to rest.  You’ve had quite a go of it.
NORA. [Composing herself] Yes, perhaps you’re right Kristine.  May I stay with you until I get things situated?
MRS. LINDE.  [pondering] Yes, you are welcome to stay the night… yet I regret to tell you I can not hold you up for any longer than that.  Do not think me rude Nora, it’s just…well…I have also had a change of events.
NORA.  Hmm?
MRS. LINDE.  You see Nora, my fortunes have also suddenly changed and things are more complicated.   I…we…thought it for the best, but I now see…
NORA.  But, I don’t understand.
MRS. LINDE.  I have ALSO had “a change of luck…”
NORA.  Krogstad!
MRS. LINDE.  Krogstad…
NORA.  But Kristine, how could you?  Oh…of all the things.  That swine.
MRS. LINDE.  You know of my struggles and how I long for a place in this world.  With Krogstad, I have purpose.  I intend to start over.  You can stay the night.  Forgive me if I seem crass, but I fear if you stay longer, Torvald will grow angry and relieve Krogstad of his position at the bank.  It would sink us for sure and I couldn’t bear the thought of it.
NORA.  Torvald will relieve Krogstad no matter what.
MRS. LINDE.  On the contrary, Nora.  After all, a deal is a deal and Torvald is an honest business man.  Remember what Krogstad has over Torvald.  Torvald will do anything to keep it from leaking.
NORA.  Unbelievable.  You came to me.  I pleaded with Torvald to get you a job.  That man ruined my life and now, here I am practically begging you.
MRS. LINDE.  And how does it feel?  It doesn’t feel good does it?  For years I had no one to love me.  I toiled around; a lonely and sorrowful woman.  Whatever want I had was replaced with need and eventually I was left to grovel.  When I came to you, I felt as though I had nothing left.  And even then, all you could think of was yourself.  Looking a poor, helpless woman in the face and harking out loud, how good it is to not have to worry about money.  How could you?  I ask that in return.
NORA.  [shocked]  I…I…
MRS. LINDE.  I met with Krogstad and through that meeting, you were relieved of your debt.  You were saved  Nora; yet it’s still not enough.  I’ve always known your self centered ways Nora.  You meant to write letters, you meant to hear my story when I arrived, but you never did.  I’ve always seen beyond these faults however and even tonight, I would have looked beyond them. However, I see now that even in your darkest hour; your darkest moment of despair, all you can still think about is yourself.  As of now,   you are no longer welcome.   I would like for you to leave.
NORA.  But Kristine…

[Kristine’s door swings open and we find Krogstad entering.  Resting his cap and coat by the door, he turns with a surprised look at Nora, followed by a silent glance back at Kristine.]

MRS. LINDE.  Nora was just leaving.   [glancing back at Nora.]

[Nora looks silently back at Kristine, lets out a low whimper and runs past Krogstad into the cold night. Lights fade…]




Filed under admiration, great writing, Literature, success!, the good ones

3 responses to “Well, Damn!

  1. This is my favorite bit: “The man I presumed to be Torvald.”

  2. Organic Mama

    He really captured the essence of the play and teased out a thread of a great dynamic between the women – selfishness and confrontation. Congratulations on such a hugely successful assignment!

  3. 1) GREAT assignment!!!

    2) That was a great scene.

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