At first glance all dolls are the same. They are nice, pretty, and perfect--the ones that moms put on shelves for display. They never have bad hair days, and their clothes are never wrinkled. But that is until they become real and can be hurt by people playing with them. Nora (Jane Fonda/Claire Bloom) in A Doll's House (1973, Joseph Losey/Patrick Garland) starts out as a porcelain doll that is nice to look at, which one wishes to play with but can be easily broken.
All throughout the play, Nora is easily upset and worried, even though Torvald (David Warner/Anthony Hopkins) does not notice it until she dances for him. She worries that Torvald will be upset at the fact that she had borrowed money, while forging her dead father's signature, from the one man that he does not get enjoy very much to save her husband's life. Her doll body slowly breaks apart throughout the play; and with the slap to to her egos by both Torvalds and the actual slap to her face by Hopkins' Torvald, her porcelain body is finally destroyed.
When she returns to confront Torvald about their failed marriage, the viewer can see that she has rebuilt herself with a material that is unbreakable, vinyl. She now can take anything and do anything, like standing up for herself and leaving the only life she had ever known. By transforming herself into a different material, she is at last stronger than she has ever been before, and Torvald does not know what to do with this new kind of doll.
As she leaves his home, one begins to understand that women, like the new Nora, can stand up for themselves. They are not the fragile porcelain dolls that everyone wants to push around but cannot because they will break. They are made of vinyl, strong enough to withstand anything thrown at them. They are strong enough to be on their own.
They are durable enough to handle any abuse, but they will not stick around to be abused. Nora was the first vinyl doll to be invented, and now, the trend is continuing. One no longer buys porcelain dolls for children; one buys them vinyl dolls that will stand strong no matter what.