The play A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1879, and filmed twice in 1973 by Joseph Losey and Patrick Garland respectively, was set during the time when women were not of equal status as men. Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) was under her husband, Helmer (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins). He was the head of the house, and Nora had gone behind his back to save the family and his life, which was completely unthinkable in her time. She had borrowed money from Krogstad (Edward Fox/Denholm Elliot), which she has been paying back, and forged her dead father's signature since women could not borrow then without a man's consent.
The title A Doll's House leads one to believe that Nora is trapped in her own home. Nora has felt disconnected from her family. She has believed that she has been expected to play a certain role in her own home. She has been indeed expected to play the role of a submissive wife and a loving mother.
However, in my opinion the cards have been in her hand. She has been in control of the family. She had saved her husband's life--humans do not have nine lives like cats, by her own means. It has been she who has had the capability to ruin her husband's honor. Nora has played her husband for a fool. She has been coercive in order to get money to pay back what she owed. Although her husband is soon to be manager of a bank, he has had no idea about what she has been doing. Her husband does not even truly know her. Helmer has thought of her as a sweet, innocent, ignorant woman who has been completely dependent upon him.
In reality, she could make it on her own. She has made it for the whole family without Helmer even knowing. In the end, after Helmer has found out the truth and yelled at her that they were ruined, when he realizes that he is saved, he decides that she should stay. However, by this time his effect on her has worn off. She is no longer going to put on a façade. She has the cards in her hand, and he now must realize that he is her doll, whom she is going to leave behind for good.