Marriage vows are not only legally binding by the state, but they are a covenant between two people. This is a covenant to be together, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, separated only by death. After a wedding, after all the frills and excitement, after all the gifts are opened and all the cake is eaten, all that remain are the vows. These are what bind two people. These are the same vows that Nora and Torvald took in the 1879 play, A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively.
However, it seems that Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) did not take these vows seriously. At the end of the play and two movie versions, Nora leaves Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) to pursue her own identity. Without a second thought, she leaves her home, her husband, her children, and her vows. Some may say that she had every right in doing that because she has the right to figure out who she is and be independent. Some may even say that she had been too young when she got married and had not known what she was doing, and therefore her actions were justified. I wholeheartedly disagree. Marriage is a sacred covenant, not to be taken lightly.
I cannot think of any reason that Nora should not have stayed with Torvald. First of all, Torvald had a very valid point that it was her duty as a wife and mother to stay. I know that some women's activists may say that she had a right as a woman to be independent. She had a right to get her own job, to have her own life. I am not arguing against that at all. Some may see this situation as a woman being oppressed to be stuck under a husband, raising children, and looking after the home--but that is not the point. The point is--she made vows to stay. Does that not mean anything? When she married Torvald, she made vows to stay with him for better or worse, and that includes finding out that perhaps he does not love her the way she wants to be loved; or, after many years realizing she does not really know who she is. It does not matter the reason; she had made vows that should be separated only by death.
Not only that, but it was very irresponsible for her to leave, not only for Torvald's sake, but also for the sake of her own children. She needed to figure out who she was, but there is no reason she could not do that where she was. She was very selfish for her actions. If she had any kind of love for her husband, or at least her children, she would stay. I am not married, nor do I have children, but I believe the love of a wife and mother rises above self, and selfish ambitions. It is this very selfishness and ambition after
selfish wants and desires that I believe was the downfall of Nora's marriage, and not only that, but the downfall of most marriages in our culture today.