In Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House, filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) is an underappreciated wife whose husband Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) could never have an equal relationship with his spouse. Therefore, Nora is forced into a horrible decision at the end of the play.
She could either stay with Torvald and accept the fact that she is just a mother to his children and an object for Torvald, or she could leave and try to create a life for herself in which she is treated with respect by those around her. In the end, she chooses to leave and start a new life.
A Doll's House really shows exactly how much things have changed as far as women's rights within a marriage as well as in society as a whole. A woman today facing the same decision Nora had to face would easily be able to leave her ungrateful husband. Whether it is good or not is up for debate, but divorce is such a common practice in today's society that it would hardly take any time to decide to stay or not. On top of that, Nora probably could have taken the children with her had the play and movies taken place in present-day society.
Fortunately, a woman's role in society has changed greatly compared to Ibsen's day. In theory, women and men are now treated equally. Of course, in reality there are still many differences between the two genders; but as far as basic human rights within our society are concerned, the two genders are treated rather equally. In some cases such as marital relations, women are sometimes given more power than their counterparts. Whether this is fair or not is a whole different debate, but the improvement was obviously necessary.
Gender relations, including equality between the two, have many parallels with race relations in the United States. The fact that it was accepted as common practice to favor one gender over the other is as appalling as treating one race favorably over others. However, they were both shortcomings that society was able to overcome and bring about a more acceptable was of treating one another. Through the years, the United States has gradually been able to improve the status of those who have been treated as second-class citizens for so long. Of course, there is still much more we can do, especially in regards to equality over all social classes. However, when we look to the past and find a case like Nora's, it is good to know we know live in a society where it is possible to not lose everything when we find out that our spouses are not exactly who they were when we married them.