Child Abandonment: Is it a Crime in "A Doll's House"?Can it be argued that at the end of A Doll's House, Nora goes out to achieve self-realization, her abandonment of her children is a crime?...

Child Abandonment: Is it a Crime in "A Doll's House"?

Can it be argued that at the end of A Doll's House, Nora goes out to achieve self-realization, her abandonment of her children is a crime? Especially given Tovarld's conventional morality?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In today's world, I have no doubt that she would be suspect, if not committed.  Look at what the McCann family went through when their daughter Madeline "disappeared" from their hotel room where she and her siblings were left alone while their parents ate at a restaurant nearby.  It's neglect and child endangerment.

mathebula | Student

we are not told whether it is a crime or not. morally it is a bad thing as children needs both male and female parental care, but as we are told that Nora is childish and she would've been inherited his bad behaviour to their children so i think it was a good thing for Nora to live as the children was in better hands in the maid. and also the abandonment of Helene to her child could be regarded as morally wrong but she had to g to work for her life because one needs income in order for one to succed in life. 

friscoyank1 | Student

Torvald would too be considered a criminal for leaving, it is not okay to run away when thigns get tough.

jordank23 | Student

Nora should not be blamed as a criminal for leaving her children. Just because she is a woman, does not mean that she is solely responsible for raising her children. If Torvald left the family it would be a shame on him but he would not be considered a criminal. Torvald is capable of raising his children just as well if not better without Nora there. He has the maid still at the house and also more of a commitment to the children because they're all that he has left. Nora left because she needed to leave. It's unfortunate that she left her children but there wasn't anything she could have done differently for her children except repeat the vicious cycle of women's submission to men.

aj-dunnigan | Student

My word Jasmine, you write essays.


Nora was never much of a mother to her children anyway. She simply had them to play with like Torvald had her to play with. They were superficial beings in her life that existed and she loved the idea of them, but she did not know them nearly well enough to LOVE them. Also, as she leaves them, she puts them in the exact same position she was raised in. She had a nursemaid (the same one that will now be raising her children in fact) bring her up in a household with no biological mother and a less-than-present father. And Nora turned out ok? Right?

nayely1507 | Student
Child Abandonment: Is it a Crime in "A Doll's House"?

Can it be argued that at the end of A Doll's House, Nora goes out to achieve self-realization, her abandonment of her children is a crime? Especially given Tovarld's conventional morality?

Clearly, Nora leaves to find herself. Nora should not cut communication with her kids completely. A mother no matter how childlike she was, has to maintain some kind of contact with her children; they obviously care about her. I do not believe it's a crime as long as she does not cut the off completely.

byoung773 | Student

Nora claims as she is about to leave Helmer that she is no longer his wife, that she has discontinued that role.  I believe this also stands true for her duties as a mother. Nora's charcter is petty and self-centered, so we must ask ourselves...was Nora ever truly fit for motherhood to begin with? Throught the care of the nurse maid, Emmy, Ivar, and Bob will most likely experience a fuller sense of maternal love than that they would have recieved from Nora. With her irrational thought processes and flightly nature, Nora has unconsciously done her children a favor.

sydie | Student

Throughout this play, Nora has never been too concerned with her children; thus, she does not think twice about leaving them behind while she goes and runs away from her problems. to Nora, it is not a crime. Her children will wonder why she has abondonded them but they will not think it to be a crime either. It is just the way Nora deals with her issues; she only knows to run. Unfortunatly, her examples will most likely be shown in her childrens lives when they are older. Thus creating this repeating cycle.

victoriabravo | Student

Nora was never a parent to her children, thus her leaving was a good thing, not a crime. Yes, her children will miss her greatly; throughout the play they thrived for her attention.  But as the children grow, they would out grow their mother and lose respect for her. If Nora were to have stayed, she would have stayed child-like while her children matured and left her behind or turn out like their mother.

joy14 | Student
Child Abandonment: Is it a Crime in "A Doll's House"?

Can it be argued that at the end of A Doll's House, Nora goes out to achieve self-realization, her abandonment of her children is a crime? Especially given Tovarld's conventional morality?

No, I do not believe this is a crime.  Nora is not only helping herself by leaving her children, but her children, as well.  She is giving them an opportunity to become someone she is not.  Nora will now have no negative influence among the children and she they will not have a doll-like mother to look up to.  In addition, the children are not left with nobody to care for them.  They have Torvald and the maid who is perfectly capable of raising tem, for she raised Nora also.

apbarkan | Student

Despite Nora's profound enlightenment experience and the acquisition of independence, there is still no excuse for abandoning your own children. It seems to be selfish and inconsiderate leaving children due to a sudden change in heart that really shouldn't concern them at all. Not only is it unfair to the children, but to Torvald as well. Assumedly, Torvald conceived their offspring with the intent to cooperate with Nora as parents. Now with Nora out the front door, Torvald is left to father three children spawned from disloyal loins.

jasminefuller | Student

Regardless of Torvald's conventional morality, we should consider this issue from Nora's perspective, for it was her decision, one that she made with great resolution, and not Torvald's, to leave.  Given that Nora's leaving was largely based upon the concept of existentialism, this school of thought affirms that Nora was perfectly justified in leaving her children since she did so on the grounds of seeking a new understanding of herself.   From a more gynocritical perspective, it must also be acknowledged that Nora was not the only person capable of mothering her children (in fact, considering her self-focused turn in character at the end of the play, it was probably best that she not be left in charge of the children); Torvald, Marie Anne, or any other adult would be just as able, if not more so, to raise the children as Nora would.  Lastly, the theme "Children inherit the sins of their fathers" leaves Nora with no blame for abandoning her family.  Raised motherless and accustomed to the thought of mothers who leave their families, Nora's mother, from this viewpoint, is the impetus behind Nora's inevitable desertion of her family, and we therefore cannot hold Nora culpable for her decision at the play's end. 

marmr | Student

I think she obliged to do this.She is a mother and any mother love her kids and does not want to leave them in any case.

pappas92 | Student

Nora did not have to leave. She did not have to leave her children and husband. Torvald made a mistake; he is human. He seemed that he had changed at the end of the play. Nora could have stayed and worked on her relationship. They could have acted as mature adults and talked through their problems. She abandoned her children just to be selfish. What are her children going to do know? Today, they would have to go through a lot of counseling because the idea of abandonment is horrible. They will think they are the problem; when it is her. She may have been an insecure wife, but she seemed to love her chilren and was a great mother because of that fact alone.

reidpilch | Student

It's interesting that so many people say that it is against societal code and ethical law today to abandon one's children when it occurs all the time, under the law.  Mothers can abandon their children at a fire station or a hospital.  If a parent isn't doing a good job the law forces he/she to abandon his/her child.  And when this happens we praise our legal system.  Why? Because we as a society (for good reason) believe that some people are simply not fit to parent.  I don't think that anyone would argue that Nora would be fit to parent if she stayed at home.  We know that the children can be well-cared for - perhaps better-cared for - without Nora.  It seems beneficial to everyone (except Helmer) that Nora leave.

thainlen | Student

That is a valid point. Nora was a very unfit mother by the time she walked out on her family. She honestly did her children a favor by leaving them with Helmer. She needs to grow up just as much as the kids do.

thainlen | Student

That is very true, by the time she walked out, Nora was a very unfit mother. She had become the child herself and therefore was practically doing her kids a favor by leaving them. She needs to grow up just as much as they do.

athimsen23 | Student

Was this action wrong? Yes. Was it a crime? I do not believe so.  Abandoning your children is never accepted in any situation, but Nora's childish personality shows her incapability to handle this burden.  With her life crumbling, caring for her offspring seems like a task that is insurmountable.  Just as Nora says, the maids spend more time with the children than she does.  Maybe this decision was best for everyone.  The children receive guardians that have always been there for them, and Nora is permitted to escape the hell that has become her life.

elizabethhardin | Student

I agree.  It has been proven that in every relationship where the parents split up, the children blame themselves.  Seeing that Torvald and Nora barely spent anytime with them, the children feel like they were unwanted all along, and Nora leaving only emphasizes this more.  The idea/theme of "sins of their fathers" will apply to the Helmer children now too.  Their self-blame and loss of worth will haunt them all their lives because of how Nora and Torvald "parented" them.

bethanyjeffress | Student

There is way too sudden of a change in the Helmer lifestyle for the children to even comprehend what is going on.  Nora and Torvald's separation is very extreme:  Nora does not even want Torvald to write to her and she can no longer stand being around her children.  In the midst of Christmastime and such an illusion of happiness, the Helmer children are thrust into a world of loneliness, confusion, and self-blame.  It is a social and familial crime for Nora to abandon her children like that.

jcelniker13 | Student

Crime and punishment - despite the "concrete" ideals of right and wrong - are subject to relativity.  In some countries, people don't break any laws when they smoke marijuana, but they get thrown in jail when they protest against the government.  So, whether or not Nora did the "right" thing by abandoning her children becomes irrelevant, for in her and all of her peers eyes, child abandonment is an all too common occurrence.  Nora acknowledges that her mother was not present in her childhood, but the factual - not emotional - nature of these statements show that Nora does not hold any bitter sentiments about that fact.  If it is socially accepted, then it is most likely legally accepted, so I do not feel that Nora's abandonment of her children should be deemed a crime.

kaylee123 | Student

Although Nora does abandon her children in the end of the play, she is doing what is best for both her and her kids. As we know, Nora is a child herself and has been treated like one her entire life. She doesn't know what a healthy relationship between parents and children are. In addition, even Torvald says that lies fog a household and that juvenile delinquents come from a home where the mother is dishonest.  Although this does seem exaggerated, it wouldn't be right for Nora to be around her children is she were constantly unhappy.  She is doing what she thinks is best and leaving them is what she sees fit.  Lastly, they are with their nanny most of the time anway and except for the small interaction with them, Nora is never around them in the play.  Overall, Nora cannot raise children if she has not even grown up either.

chelsyank | Student

I do feel sympathy for the children, but I do not believe that Nora abandoning her children is a crime. She tells Torvald that she does not know who he is and it is as if living with a stranger, so in that case, her kids would be strangers to her. It is not fair to try and teach her children how to find themselves in their life if she does not know who she is. She made a sacrifice that needed to be done.

alexlstein3 | Student

I do believe that Nora is to blame for leaving her children.  In any situation, a mother must not leave her offspring.  It is Nora's duty as a mother as well as a parent to protect and her children to be successful adults.  Nora's actions, although understandable, are wrong.  It is wrong of her to leave the people she made behind.

kdavis112291 | Student

Yes, when she abondons her children, she is breaking a social code, if not a countries law.  By leaving them, she is essentially saying that she no longer wants to take care of them.  Nora is abondoning them with their father, who, despite his best intentions, is simply to focused on work to give the childrent all of his attention.