Do you think it's Torvald's fault that his wife left him at the end?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe that both Torvald and Nora are to blame.

Torvald cares more about what people think than the sacrifice his wife made to save his life. He is a wretched character who aggravates me whenever I teach or discuss the book. He is, of course, a product of his environment, of the society in which he lives. With that said, he is pompous and arrogant, and I like Krogstad better because he is angry for the right reasons: he wants to care for his children and be given a second chance to do so. Everyone makes mistakes: however, if we learn from the mistakes, they become learning experiences instead, and can help us change our lives.

Nora, however, chooses to leave. I can understand that she has gone through an epiphany, seeing herself and her place in the world in a completely different context. However, she is spoiled to believe it must be her way, and leaving her children is something I just cannot wrap my brain around. Kids need their mom, and she should have accepted living with Torvald as a brother rather than leaving her children behind.

Torvald is not a likable person, but Nora is completely off-center, and if she is smart enough to figure out how things stand and how she's been ill-treated, she is smart enough to find a way to work things out. She simply chooses not to.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although I do place the majority of the blame on the times and the expectations about the roles of women and men during this time period, I do blame Torvald for his actions and words.  Despite the expectations about how one should act based on his or her gender, Torvald chose to adhere to that role when he could have chosen to go against the norm and realize that he was being especially cruel to his wife in more than one way.  He did not appreciate her and disregarded her feelings and opinions. This is why she felt compelled to go behind his back and do the things that she did, although I do not excuse her actions.  Torvald is particularly sexist and stubborn and abrasive.  He looks down on Nora and treats her as a child and not an equal in the marriage in any way.  Nora began to realize during her marriage that she was tired of how she was being treated and that is was holding her back from being her true self. 

eabettencourt eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question.  I actually do not think it is his fault, nor do I see it as Nora's fault.  They are both victims of their times, of their society.  I believe this is what Ibsen is attacking in "A Doll's House."  He is not attacking either character, but rather the stultifying roles they are 'expected' to play in the sexist time period in which they live.  It was extremely controversial of Ibsen to conclude his play with Nora leaving, but this was his only way to convey his ideas about the failed marriage between Torvald and Nora.  I think Torvald is weak, and tries to grasp at what he's been (unfortunately) taught is the role of a husband, only to lose his wife, who he really doesn't care about anyway (when he thinks she's brought shame and scandal on them, he is ready to do away with her anyway).

akijah721 | Student

I feel it was ot his fault because he had no controll over nora.  I actually think that Torvald loved Nora and truly cared about her, but Nora didnt feel the same. Nora had clearly put up a front/lie that she was happy in her marriage.

mathebula | Student

 I think they are both to be blame for the way they had conducted their marriage. Nora realised at the start that Torvald is treating her like a child but she let him continued. when Torvald gives Nora money he had to start by calling her feather brain meaning she spends money worthless but at the end he handed her money so that she can keep depending on him, Nora is accepting that as she says "you know how we squerels,songbirds we spend". We realised that Nora loves Torvald as she borrowed money from Krogstad to save Torvald's life. We see in the play that Torvald has a little care about Nora and he does not treat her as a respectable wife. Nora has done something glorious in torvald's life by saving him but torvald fails to save her too as he is flagabasted about the truth of  Nora's life. He does not behave as Nora thougt he will, Nora thoughts that Torvald will do something glorious to her,she expected that Torvald wii rescue her and take the blame but Torvald insulted her saying that she is not feet to be a mother and also calling her with bad names such as hypocracy etc. Nora realised that what she only meant for him was her beuty then decided to leave but she would've done that long Torvald would have ralised that his actions towards her was unfair and also he should have treated her as wife not just a woman.     

drdelarocker | Student

This is an interesting question with no easy answer. One hallmark of tragedy - at least, according to Aristotle - is that the hero brings about his or her own downfall. Usually, this comes about through what he called "hamartia" - an act of injustice committed by the hero. The hero often intends this act for good, although he is most often unaware of the full truth. Thus, the well-intentioned act is actually the catalyst for the eventual expulsion of the hero from his society.

If we read "Doll House" with this in mind, it's actually Nora, not Torvald, that brings about the dissolution of their marriage. Even though she took out a loan from Krogstad with the best of intentions - to save her husband's life - it is this very act that eventually forces her and Torvald apart. And this is the irony of the play: in her efforts to hang on to her husband, Nora ends up driving him away.

Of course, we could debate whether or not she's better off without him, especially after he's shown his true colors. In fact, we could even argue whether or not this play is a tragedy. After all, even though Nora is "expelled" from her society at the end, she finds a new community within herself, a society of one, as it were. This is something she's never experienced, something that she needs to experience in order to know who she truly is, not who others expect her to be.

So, from the tragic perspective, Nora, not Torvald, is the catalyst for the reaction that ends the marriage.

kellencross1 | Student

No, I do not believe it was Torvald's fault that Nora left him in the end because it was something Nora did on her own. If we are following Jungian theory, each person has a need to go through individuation, which is what Nora did when she decided to leave. Torvald may have motivated Nora to leave, but in the end it was her choice.

jessdz | Student

But still it is not his fault that she leaves. The Motif of deception is what truly carries her to realize that she was never really in love with Torvald or him with her. She realizes how easy it is for her to lie to him and even says that his love is a mere infatuation with saying he "is in love." At first Nora thought she loved him and that is why they went to Italy but in reality she only did those things because that is what society taught her a good wife is supposed to do. In the end Nora realizes that her inner desire is to be free from societies morals and find herself because after all she was only a doll to Torvald. She became aware of her needs and felt leaving was the only way to find herself.

misosaki | Student

No. Technically Torvald has not changed since they married, he has always been selfish. It was Nora who changed, she saw things differently at the turn of the play, and Torvald never changed who he was. He unlike her, knew who he was. Although Torvald was the reason she left, it was not his fault.

sarahkuhn24 | Student

Yes Torvald is at fault for Nora leaving him. It was Nora's own self discovery and choice but Torvald had it coming. He trapped Nora in his perfect doll house for eight years. It just took Nora that long to figure out how badly Torvald has been treating her. He never treated her as an individual and never treated her equally. When Nora finally figured it out for herself, she left.

claireemartin1 | Student

Torvald's view of life is bestowed on him the the societal noms he was born and raised to adhere to.  Torvald's parents most likely raised him with the values he portrays in the play.  His example of a family was probably much like the one he molded for himself.  In Torvald's defense, the shallowness of society is all he knows.  Therefore, he can not comprehend Nora's arguement against him.

nayely1507 | Student

Although I do place the majority of the blame on the times and the expectations about the roles of women and men during this time period, I do blame Torvald for his actions and words.  Despite the expectations about how one should act based on his or her gender, Torvald chose to adhere to that role when he could have chosen to go against the norm and realize that he was being especially cruel to his wife in more than one way.  He did not appreciate her and disregarded her feelings and opinions. This is why she felt compelled to go behind his back and do the things that she did, although I do not excuse her actions.  Torvald is particularly sexist and stubborn and abrasive.  He looks down on Nora and treats her as a child and not an equal in the marriage in any way.  Nora began to realize during her marriage that she was tired of how she was being treated and that is was holding her back from being her true self. 

Obviously, Torvald is at fault. Since the very beginning, he has been this selfish creature. All he truly cares about is himself and his reputation. At the moment, Nora decides to leave him, that is when he decides that he wants to change;however, it is late for him.

lechuga3312 | Student

I don't think that the blame can be place solely on Torval; however, I do think that he didn't ever help the situation. Nora was treated as a child her entire life with her father and was never allowed to grow up while living with him. If Torval would have given her the chance to help him make household descions, or even give her complete control over an aspect of their marriage she would have learned to become an adult while also being a wife to him. Nora instead was forced to say in the never ending cycle of her childhood. Torvald may have been trying to help her but he didn't do enough. I  believe that without drastic intervention from any adult Nora wouldn't know what to do with the responsibilities that she would/ could have been given.

durquijo | Student

No. It is not Torvald fault at all. In fact it is Nora's. Instead of Nora allowing herself to be miserable and live her life with a "stranger" she should have spoken up a long time ago and resolved the problem, not live a life full of lies and deception.

jwengraf | Student

No.  It is in no way Torvald's fault that Nora left.  Nora left based on her own issues in her life.  Yes, Torvald was the source of many of those issues, but Nora never took it upon herself to approach him about them.  How was he to know?  When she finally speaks to him and everything is all resolved, it is clear that Torvald is hopeful and willing to work for change.  Obviously that the talk is one that should have happened much earlier, and the fact that it did not is completely Nora's fault.  She built up all of the anger and emotion and then left him as a result.

klefty | Student
Personally, I would not put the blame on Torvald for Nora's choice to leave. First we must consider that Torvald is struggling himself, with his obligations at the office and the stress induced by its demand. Torvald is obviously concerned for his job, mostly because it is the reason for the family's well being. For a moment, it almost seems that Torvald is being victimized because he is the easy one to blame. In Nora's case, I can understand that she is upset with her husband, but she has made little effort to repair her relationship with Torvald. I think she just felt brave at the moment, and she felt as if this was her moment to shine, but in reality, her decision was flat-out stupid.
sydie | Student

I think Nora left due to many things, not just her husband. Yea, Torvalds treatment of her helped push her along to her decision to leave but he is not the sole cause of her departure. He is not the first man to treat Nora like an item yet this is the first instance she does anything about it. perhaps Nora suddenly felt powerful and thought that she could finally stand up for herself, and left. Nora did not appreciate the was Torvald treated her, but he is not the only factor into her decision to leave.

byoung773 | Student

Torvald's perception of Nora as a mere sexual object rather than a human being fuels her reasoning for departure. Nora is indeed controled in a doll-like sens and only stands in for her role as Torvald's wife. The projection of who Torvald believes his wife to be and who she actually is are two vastly different characters. It is ultimatley his inability to see these differing personalities that drives Nora away.  

danigoettl | Student

I think Torvald is partly to blame for Nora's departure.  He treated her in a childish way, with all of his nicknames for her, and never truely  loved her as a wife.  He did however provide her with three children and was the provider of the family.  He did try to stop her, but she was stubborn and stuck to her word.  He did what he could under the conditions he was under.

englishbrooke | Student

In a way yes, and in a way, no. I feel that Torvald was never in love with Nora. I feel that he just provided her with a "traditionaly comfortable" lifestyle. He was the puppeteer, and she was merely his "play thing." The lack of attention that he gave Nora pushed her away. With no love and a fake life, she just had to leave. Nora did the right thing whne she left Torvald. Now, she can start her life all over again. In all, Torvald is a classic case of the "buisness man" who never has time for the wife. She deserves the chance to be loved.

reidpilch | Student

Of course it is Torvald's fault.  It was destined to be Torvald's fault.  It has to be Torvald's fault.  Torvald embodies everything that Ibsen protested.  He fully accepts the social pressures of Victorian society without question.  He dehumanizes women by treating them as pets, as something to be owned.  He overemphasizes the importance of material objects. Torvald is Victorian society.  In order for Nora to break away from these social mores as Ibsen wanted, she absolutely has to break away from Torvald.  He cannot change.  The only way that his views will change is if society's views change.  Torvald is consumed by the superego.  He needs to construct the perfect facade - the perfect doll house - at the sake of what is on the inside, at the sake of happiness. 

fallynn | Student

I definetly do not think Torvald is fully to blame. Torvald can not be blamed for not coming to the same epiphany as Nora. However, Torvald is a man and he does have the benefit of male dominance, instead of turning a blind eye to Nora and their relationship Torvald being the one with more power should have attempted to recognize what his relationship and life was lacking, but even so, Torvald was doing as he had been taught, but he should have stood up for what he felt was right. Torvalds constant sympathetic attitude towards Nora suggests that he kinda knows that he has the power to help Nora and make things better, but he is obviously afraid and continues the same pattern.

lopezlopez261 | Student

Although Torvald never learn how to treat his wife like he was suppose to. It wasn’t only his fault of Nora living him. It was also Nora’s fault that they ended up splitting up. Nora since the beginning of her life was treated as a child. She was an immature woman that didn’t think about the future until the end. She did many mistakes in her life that made her come into place at the end.

haleylo | Student

Torvald did not recognize or fulfill his wife's needs, but with the societal norms of the time, can he really be blamed?  Nora is upset she and Torvald never have real conversations, but I get the impression that no married couples have meaningful relationships.  Mrs. Linde was not phased in the least bit by the relationship between Nora and Torvald.  It is a shame that Nora had to dress up and dance for Torvald to make him happy, but it wasn't unusual.  That Nora left him in the end was not his fault, for he didn't understand what he did wrong or how to change.

nikota | Student

Torvald was not to blame, he was lead on to believe that Nora was content. If Nora had revealed her true feelings to Torvald earlier, than sure some of the blame could have fallen on his shoulders. The only reason she didn't was because society encourages this idea of a perfect marriage where both members are completely happy; and Nora felt some guilt for not feeling this way and felt obligated to live a lie. So, society is more at fault than Torvald.

obrunacini | Student

No, Torvald probably thought that he was being a great husband with all the guidance and advice he gave to Nora. He is a pretty meticulous guy and wanted his marriage to appear the same way to people, even though it was fake and had no deep meaning. I actually think that Torvald loved Nora and truly cared about her, but Nora didnt feel the same. Nora had clearly put up a front/lie that she was happy in her marriage.

mewbank | Student

Torvald only reflected a "normal" husband for the time period. Nora's playful attitude and childish personality directly displayed themselves in her relationship with Torvald. Nora even said, "I have been your doll wife, just as at home I was Daddy's doll child." Nora is just Torvald's doll, he knows nothing different. It is not at all Torvald's fault Nora chose to leave him. Nora did not even choose to leave because of him, she chose to leave for hope of independence.

anastaciaid | Student

Absolutely not. Torvald dedicated his life to Nora out of respect to her. I think the one honest moment in which he expresses his love to Nora is after the party and how he likes to pretend that their is a secret love between them and therefore only glances at her a couple of times. Throughout the rest of the play it is more of a role playing between Nora and Torvald; it is almost as if they already know what the other will say if they say this. Their is no real honesty and both are to blame for that. He thinks everything is fine with Nora, she has no complains and Nora does too, but in all respect I think that they are both fed up with each other. If they were more open with each other they would see that. Torvald sometimes gets angry with Nora but calms down because as a husband he has to be composed and not lose his temper and Nora is dumbfounded because she is not supposed to know about matters that only concern husbands. In the end, it is the gender roles that society has seen fit and proper that really pushed Nora over the edge first and Torvald just had not quite caught on yet. Surely, the audience was stupefied by Nora's actions because undoubtedly their are many unhappy marriages and in this play, A Doll's House, something was done about it.

athimsen23 | Student

Nora's false personality that she revealed when around Torvald was the true reason for the implosion.  To Torvald, everything seemed perfect, for Nora had the ability to disguise the negative aspects in the marriage.  Anything that looked suspicious, Nora covered up with her song and dance.  How was Torvald to know of the growing contempt in Nora's heart?  All her words place the blame on Torvald, when he was in fact innocent.  I can agree that he was slightly ignorant, but to say that it was Torvald's fault is unfair.

taytang | Student

If a person fawned over you completely and gave their entire being over for your discretion and pleasure without the slightest hint of contempt, how are you to recognize the signs of unhappiness? I think Torvald was unwittingly led into a trap by Nora. Nora manipulated Torvald into believing that she loved him, and Torvald fell for it. Sure, he acted contemptuous with Nora and stifled her independence, but Nora did not act like she was displeased by it. In fact, Nora encouraged Torvald to call her sweet names and advise her in her clothing choice. I don't think that Torvald overreacted upon recieving Krogstad's letter, either. Nora was expecting her husband to completely forgive her and offer his life in exchange for her honor--two things that are both representations of her incesant childish fantasies. The fact that Torvald expressed his anger shows that he is a typical human being with typical emotions, and it was unreasonable for Nora to decide to leave him because of it. It was Torvald's initial shock to the situation that caused his overreaction, and Nora judged his reaction to be presumptuous.

lafoss | Student

I don't think that Torvald is to blame for Nora leaving him. He treated Nora in a way that was considered socially acceptable at that time. No one else knew differently. Nora left Torvald because she had finally conjured up enough courage to look at her world as being full of opportunity rather then being just a scheduled to-do list that the men in her life wrote for her.

aoshields | Student

I do not think it was Torvald's fault that Nora left him. Torvald was merely fufilling the role and exoectations that society had placed on his shoulders. Nora was growing restless from her childhood; when she married, she had moved from being her father's play thing to Torvald's. Torvald's attitude toward Nora was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

 

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A Doll's House

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