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Nora seems to view motherhood as though it is a kind of game. She is constantly playing with her kids, but we rarely see her doing any serious child-rearing or disciplining. The kids seem to spend more time with their nursemaid than they do with their mother. When the nurse, Anna, returns from outdoors with the children, Nora says:

Did you have a game of snowballs? Oh, I wish I'd been there. No; leave them, Anna; I'll take their things off. Oh, yes, let me do it; it's such fun.

She wishes she'd been there for their game—a snowball fight. Then, when the nurse goes to take the kids away to remove their wet things, Nora says that she thinks it is fun to help them take off their clothes.

In other words, she likes to dress and undress them as one might dress and undress one's dolls. She calls her youngest child, a girl, her "sweet little dolly." Nora even expresses her wish to her friend, Christine Linde, about being free to "be able to play and romp about with the children." She does not seem to think of them as actual people but as playthings. She plays hide and seek with them, calling them "dear little dolly children," even hiding under the table herself.

Motherhood is a series of delightful interludes for her—a fun game—at least until Torvald tells her how mothers can morally poison their home and kids.

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True to the title of the play, the environment that Nora exists in is indeed a house meant to be on display. Initially, Nora does not realize this. At the beginning of the play, Nora seems to be very happy with regards to her position in life. She loves her family intensely and enjoys doting on her children with gifts as well as spending time with them.

After her moment of self realization, however, Nora decides that the only way she can be self-fulfilled is to abandon her family. Although Torvald attempts to guilt her into staying by calling her children her "sacred duty," she at last understands that she was never a true mother to them; she was only going through the motions of caring for them in the same way that she was going through the motions in every aspect of her life.

Nora does indeed love her children but realizes that she can never be what they need or what anyone else needs in a maternal figure without being a complete human being. She says that they are in better hands if she isn't there and leaves without telling them goodbye.

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Nora’s decision to leave Torvald is not difficult to understand, considering how he betrays her when she most needs his understanding and protection, but how can she abandon her three children? Torvald reminds Nora that her responsibilities to her children are “sacred duties,” suggesting that he believes she does not take seriously her role as their mother. Nora, however, loves her children, understands for the first time the true responsibilities of motherhood, and now recognizes her deficiencies in meeting them. Nora’s leaving her children to pursue a new life is not a selfish act; it is a sacrifice.

At the beginning of Act I, Nora is introduced in Ibsen’s drama not as Torvald’s wife but as Ivar, Bob, and Emmy’s mother. Coming home from holiday shopping, Nora is happy and excited as she thinks of surprising her children that evening with the Christmas tree she has bought and will decorate and with the presents she has found for them. Showing the gifts to her husband, she eagerly anticipates their Christmas celebration. “And the children Torvald!” she exclaims. “They’ll have such a good time!” The children’s nurse attends to the daily tasks of looking after them, but Nora showers her young sons and little daughter with affection and takes delight in playing with them. In the play’s conclusion when Nora leaves Torvald, she doesn’t want to see her children, no doubt because telling them goodbye would be too painful.

Nora finds the strength to leave her children because she believes she is acting in their best interests. She knows she cannot be a good mother to them until she herself grows up, forges her own identity, and lives with integrity. She recognizes that her children have been her “dolls,” just as she has been Torvald’s “doll wife” and her father’s “doll child.” Preparing to leave the house for the last time, Nora speaks to Torvald about her children. “I know I leave them in better hands than mine,” she says. “The way I am now I can’t be anything to them.” Nora does not say that she can never be a good mother to her children, suggesting that she holds out hope that one day she can be more than their playmate. Until then, she will love them enough to leave them behind while she becomes someone who can be a stable, mature presence in their lives.

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