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

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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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.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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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. 

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eabettencourt | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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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).

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akijah721 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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mathebula | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

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 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.     

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drdelarocker | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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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.

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kellencross1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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jessdz | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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misosaki | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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sarahkuhn24 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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claireemartin1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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nayely1507 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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lechuga3312 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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durquijo | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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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.

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jwengraf | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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.

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