Given that the play openly challenged dominant gender relations it's actually surprising how positive its overall critical reception was. Even if many couldn't accept the full import of Ibsen's radical social critique, they still admired the obvious skill and artistry with which he had constructed A Doll's House. This attitude is ably expressed in the following extract from a reviewer in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph:
It is quite possible to pass a thoroughly intellectual evening in "A Doll’s House" without being an immediate convert to Ibsenism.
At the same performance, however, a critic from a rival paper, The (London) Times, challenged Ibsen's social philosophy:
By Ibsen’s admirers this story is declared to inculcate a great moral lesson. The performance on the face of it, we are bound to say, proves nothing except that the heroine is an extremely petulant, headstrong, and impracticable young person, whose actions, whether in the frivolous or the serious vein, are not to be reconciled with ordinary experience or the dictates of common sense.
According to this reviewer, Nora's leaving of Torvald is not an act of emancipation, a break for freedom, but rather a petulant temper tantrum. When the critic refers to "common sense" he's talking about the social mores of late Victorian society, the very standards against which Nora is openly rebelling. At the same time, it's possible to read into this review a tacit acknowledgement that if Nora really is behaving childishly then Torvald only has himself to blame for keeping her in a state of child-like submission.
The ending of the play was thought scandalous to some. Many people simply couldn't conceive of a respectable married woman walking out on her husband and children and going out into the world alone to make her own way in life. Indeed, one German actress playing the part of Nora was so scandalized by the ending that she rewrote it. In the new version, Nora turns back at the last moment and collapses by the door, expressing her unwillingness to leave behind her children. It's a sign of the degree of acceptance that A Doll's House had already earned, however, that this Bowdlerisation of the play was widely rejected by critics and public alike, so much so that the German actress concerned eventually reverted to Ibsen's original script.