The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield

The Doll's House - Katherine MansfieldIn The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield we have the theme of class, prejudice, connection, hope, appearance and equality. Taken from her The Doves’ Nest and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Mansfield may be exploring the theme of class. The Burnell family, with the exception of Kezia, consider themselves to be above others particularly when it comes to the Kelveys. It would appear that the Burnells define themselves by their social status (or class) and due to the fact that Mrs Kelvey is a working class woman and the possible fact that Mr Kelvey is in prison the Burnells consider themselves to be above the Kelveys. There is also a sense that the Burnell’s are ostracizing the Kelvey’s simply because they may be different to them. If anything it is possible that the Burnell’s do not wish to associate themselves with the Kelvey’s because of the Kelvey’s appearance (both physical and social).

It is also noticeable that the other children (and the teacher) in the school, like the Burnells, also consider themselves to be better than the Kelveys. Again this assumption appears to be based not only on the working class status of Mrs Kelvey but also by the fact that Mrs Kelvey is so poor that she needs to dress her daughters with cloth from items that her neighbours no longer need. If anything all the characters (again with the exception of Kezia) in the story judge the Kelveys based on, not only their perceived lower class status but also by their physical appearance. Just as Lil and Else look different to those around them by the way they are dressed, the other children (and the Burnells and the teacher) view the Kelveys as being different. Each character in the story (again with the exception of Kezia) is prejudicial towards the Kelveys.

The fact that neither Lil or Else speak throughout the story (although Else does speak at the end) may also be important as by not allowing (or having) either child speak Mansfield may be suggesting that in life, neither Lil or Else have a voice (or remain unheard). It is also noticeable that Kezia too, is limited in what she can say. It is left to Isabel to tell the children in the school about the doll’s house, based purely on the fact that she is the oldest of the Burnell children. In many ways by not allowing the Kelvey girls and Kezia to speak, Mansfield is connecting each of them to each other. She is allowing them to be the same or equal, removing any class distinction that may exist.

There is also some symbolism in the story which may be significant. The doll’s house itself can be seen to symbolise the upper class Burnells. By associating the doll’s house with the Burnells, Mansfield is possibly suggesting that the Burnells, because they are the only people with a doll’s house, are likewise different to those around them (they are upper class). Something that is a little clearer to the reader when Mansfield tells the reader that Mrs Burnell only sent her children to the local school, not because she felt it would be good for them but because there was no other school available. It may also be important that there is a smell coming from the doll’s house. It is possible that by introducing the smell to the house, symbolically Mansfield is also suggesting that all is not right with the Burnells (socially prejudiced).

The gate that Kezia is sitting on, and which she swings open may also be symbolic. It is possible that Mansfield is likening the gate (at least symbolically) to the social prejudice that Mrs Burnell (and others) have towards the Kelveys. By allowing Kezia to open the gate to Lil and Else, Mansfield may be suggesting that likewise, Kezia is removing any obstruction or social prejudice towards Lil and Else, so that both can be just like the other children in the story, to be their equal. The little lamp inside the doll’s house may also be important as Mansfield may be using it to symbolise hope or connection. Of all the children only Kezia and Else seem to be impressed by the lamp. This may be important as it is possible that symbolically (through the lamp), Mansfield is not only allowing hope into Else’s (and Lil’s) life, so that they can be treated as equals to the other children in the story but Mansfield may also be directly connecting Else and Kezia, tearing down any class barriers that may exist between both girls and which may have been built by Mrs Burnell or Aunt Beryl.

The ending of the story is also interesting. Despite the continued social prejudice of Aunt Beryl (by telling Lil and Else to go home and not come back again), Else appears to be unaffected. As she is sitting beside Lil, she tells her ‘I seen the little lamp.’ This line may be important as it not only connects Else to Kezia but by seeing the lamp, Else realises that she is no different to Kezia. Through Kezia’s breaking down of any class barrier that may have existed between Lil, Else and herself, Else (and Lil) are allowed to be just like all the other children (equal) in the story.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "The Doll's House by Katherine Mansfield." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 30 Mar. 2015. Web.


  • It is very helpful for me when preparing for my exam.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Rufina. Good luck with your exam.

    • Hi! thank you for this website, it has benefited me immensely. i have one question that i hope is answered very soon due to my exams and tests : What are the differences between The Kelveys and everyone else and how were they treated? i hope i can receive a fast reply Dermot. thank you again

      • Dermot (Post Author)

        Thanks for the comment Orrin. The Kelvey girls are working class while all the other characters in the story that are mentioned are middle class. It is this difference in class that makes the Kelvey girls stick out. They are not accepted by the other characters in the story based solely on their class. It is for this reason that the Kelvey girls were ostracized by the other characters and made fun of.

  • Thanks! This helped a lot in helping me study for my exam! Great post!

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Uwu. I’m glad you found the post helpful.

    • Thanx so much this will help me a lot.

    • How is Kezia different

      • Dermot (Post Author)

        She is the only character in the story who connects with the Kelvey girls.

      • Kezia Burnell is the youngest of the Burnell sisters and the one who acts kindly towards the Kelveys. She has two other sisters (Isabel and Lottie). Kezia is probably not concerned with looks and appearances, as she avoids being inside the house and entertaining a guest. Kezia comes across as very different from her sisters – especially from Isabel who is bossy and arrogant, while Kezia is kind and shyer than her sister. Also, Kezia is ignored by her older sister and other colleagues. Finally, she invited the Kelveys to come into her household and play with the doll’s house. Her act is to remove the gaps between the rich and poor people innocently. This resulted to equal between all classes in the society. So, Lil and Else are allowed to be like other children in their society in that time.

  • Can I analysis the plot from raising and climax parts? For my homework.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Indon. Yes you can analysis the story from raising action to climax. Just leave out the introduction and pick the story up from the point where the children are in school. Take it from there to the point where Else tells Lil that she saw the lamp.

  • Thanks it was very very useful but can we say lamp was a symbol of working class people. That they do everything for others but they don’t have anything belonging to themselves as lamp has light for people…?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Maryam. I’m not sure that I follow you. Are you suggesting that the lamp because Else saw it too symbolizes working class people? Or do you suggest that the lamp is inclusive of all people?

      • Yes I mean symbolize working class people but I’m not sure.

        • Dermot (Post Author)

          It is possible for the lamp to be seen as symbolism for working class people. The fact that the lamp is overlooked by the other children (except by Else and Keiza) might mirror how working class people in general are often overlooked by those who may be of a higher social class. The lamp also connects Else and Keiza in a manner very similar to social inclusion. Keiza though middle class allows Else and Lil (both working class) see the doll’s house.

  • It’s very helpful to me.

  • Useful. Can I ask a question though. Why does the writer refer to Else as “Our Else?”

  • Awesome post. Very helpful..Thank you

  • Please add the significance of the title of The Doll’s House. Thanks

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Najma. The doll’s house may symbolically represent the Burnells. Just as everybody gravitates towards the doll’s house likewise the Burnell’s may feel due to their social status that people should gravitate towards them. The doll’s house is also the subject of the story hence Mansfield may have decided to us it as the title of the story.

  • Thank you so much this post really helped me a lot. Thank you.

  • Useful summary thank you but I still have questions

    Can I know the similarities between Else and Kezia?

    How do I notice class distinction?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Ndumiso. There would be several similarities between Else and Kezia. Both see the lamp, which connects both girls. Both are on the outside in some way. Else because she is poor and Kezia has to deal with the pressures of her sister telling others about the doll’s house (taking the spotlight away from Kezia). With regard to class distinction in the story. Else’s mother makes Else’s clothes from hand me downs (second hand clothes) from other people. She cannot afford to buy Else new clothes. Also Kezia’s aunt judges Else because she is poor and as such considers her to be not only unworthy of any attention but possibly a bad influence on Kezia.

  • In the opening paragraph, does Aunt Beryl seem to be a kind person?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Aunt Beryl doesn’t appear to be a kind person due to the fact that she is judgmental. Something that is noticeable by the fact that she comments on the smell of the paint of the doll’s house. Rather than being happy for the children she thinks only of herself.

  • Explain why the following sentence is an example of irony: “very nice company for other people’s children!”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The narrator is being sarcastic, knowing full well that the children are from a background that many would look down on. The mother is a washerwoman and the father is in jail.

  • How do you think Else looked, judging by the following metaphor: “she was a tiny wishbone of a child?”

  • What in the extract below is Isabel wanting to tell first, and to whom does she want to tell it:

    “I’m to tell, said Isabel, because I am the eldest. And you can join in after. But I’m to tell first’

  • Consider the incident of bullying in the story. If you were the principal of a school what would you prevent school bullying?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      There are many things that could be done. One is to talk to the children who are doing the bullying and try and explain to them that it is important to treat others as equals.

  • What does the following simile tell us about the way Aunt Beryl saw the Kelveys:”And she stepped into the yard and shooed them out as if they were chickens”

  • What does the following symbolism represent, “The doll’s house that only the Burnell children had in the area”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Burnell children are different to others. Mansfield most likely bring the theme of class into the story.

  • What do the following symbols represent? “The opening of the gate by Keiza to the Kelveys”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Keiza is including the Kelveys. She is allowing them to be the same as her. She is not discriminating against them unlike others in the story.

  • What do the following symbols represent? “The light in the doll’s house to the Kelvey children?”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Often a writer will use light as a symbol of hope or direction. Which is very much the case in the story, particularly for Else. Only Else and Keiza see the light coming from the lamp. They are equals. Despite the perceived differences in class.

      • The light can symbolize faith and religion or even God. Both Kezia and Else could see the light – the transcendential thing left unseen and unfelt by others. Kezia is different as she saw by her heart. She was not mesmerised by other things but a lamp that seemed unseen or forgotten. Only those with faith could see the light.

    • Our thoughts just round about poor and rich we need to analyze this story with aspect of life.

  • Thanx Dermot, this is of great help to me as I am preparing for my exam.

  • Can you please help me to answer this question. What other metaphor does the author add to the one above and how does it add to the picture of Else that we have. The last metaphor says “she was a tiny wishbone of a child” so according to my understanding I quote “cropped hair and enormous solemn eyes a little white owl.” What does it mean?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Ntshuxeko. I’m not sure I follow you. I think you want me to explain the entire (two metaphor) sentence. If that is the case Mansfield may be highlighting to the reader just how skinny Else is (from malnutrition) and how pale or white she is (because she may be sickly). Similarly Else’s eyes may look solemn because again she is poorly.

  • Thanx so much it is so helpful when I’m preparing for my exam.

  • How many short stories do we have this year.. Can I please have a list of them?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Not sure I follow you Rolland. If you go to the front page of the blog (home), you’ll get a list of posts for the year.

  • What is the theme of the story and what is the tone?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Al. The primary theme of the story is class while there are also some secondary themes which include prejudice, connection, hope, appearance and equality. As for the tone of the story I would suggest that the tone is one of superiority and hypocrisy.

    • Hello can you tell me who is describing using animal images and what this represents ?

      • Dermot (Post Author)

        Thanks for the comment Gla. When the narrator describes Else as looking like a little white owl (wishbone of a child…with solemn eyes) she may be suggesting that Else is pale and malnourished. The reference to Lil and Else looking like two stray cats suggests that both are lost when it comes to Keiza’s home.

        • Thanks for your answer. And why does Mrs Hay sends a doll’s house to the Burnells.

          • Dermot (Post Author)

            Mrs Hay stayed in the Burnells for a period and she may have given the Burnell children the doll’s house as a thank you to the family for allowing her to stay in their home.

  • What colour of their nation for both families.

    Why it is important for the Kelveys children to visit the dolls house

    What impact or influence will it have in their life.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Lungisani. Both families are white, the story is set in New Zealand. One reason it is important for the Kelvey children to visit the doll’s house is because it allows them to be included in the same activity as the other children. The impact on both Kelvey children is that they now have a sense of belonging and a realisation that they are no different to the other children.

  • Who/ what was like ….
    A queen under the tree ?
    Little dots ?
    Two little cats ?
    A chicken ?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I can’t find the line ‘a queen under the tree.’ Little dots is Lil and Else walking down the road as viewed by Kezia as both girls make their way to Kezia’s home.. Two little stray cats is Lil and Else walking across the courtyard to Kezia’s home. A chicken (or chickens) is again Lil and Else being shooed away by Aunt Beryl.

  • What details of the doll’s house please the children ?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Both Kezia and Lil like the lamp in the doll’s house. Which is important as Mansfield is connecting both children through their liking of the lamp. If anything Mansfield is tearing down the class barrier that had existed between Kezia and Lil.

  • How does Aunt Beryl feel about the Kelvey children

  • Was Mr Kelvey really in prison? Or is just an assumption in the story.

  • Is the cruelty shown by Aunt Beryl of the same quality as that shown by the little girls, or is it another type?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Parker. I would think that the cruelty shown by Aunt Beryl is different. She is old enough to know better whereas the girls in school are children and following each others lead.

  • Explain the title of the story “The Doll’s House.” How does Else appear in the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Felicia. The title is somewhat self explanatory. A family of girls receive a doll’s house as a gift from a family friend and wish to show it to the other children in their school. Some critics will also suggest that as a doll’s house would have been expensive that Mansfield is also using the title to explore the differences between classes. All the girls who see the doll’s house admire the doll’s house. However Lil and Kezia are the only two children who focus on the little lamp in the doll’s house. Something which is important as it connects both Lil and Kezia .

      Else appears to be a malnourished, sickly girl which may suggest that she is poor and her family cannot afford to buy food. Also she is on the receiving end of some of the other girls jokes in school. If anything she is picked on by the other girls in school because she is poor. Else doesn’t fit in with the other girls because of her circumstances and how she looks. Her mother dressing her and Lil in second hand cloth received from some of the other girl’s mothers.

  • Mrs Hay sent the doll’s house. At this moment Mrs Hay was still in love with Burnells? and she was still staying with the Burnells?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Pheki. Mrs Hay did send the doll’s house to the Burnells after she had visited and stayed with them. She is no longer staying at the Burnells when the story begins.

  • Mrs Hay it means she sends the doll’s house to her children?

  • What is the most interested thing in this story and what happens to the Kelvey family and burnells family at the end?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      For me the most interesting thing about the story is how Kezia and Lil connect with one another despite the differences in class. As to what happens the Kelveys and Burnells. I’m not really sure. Mansfield doesn’t give details as to what happens each family.

  • Why does the author tell the story always as “our else?” Is it symbolism? or is this another story ? or a favorite character of the author?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Sammy. Mansfield is most likely using the term to show familiarity. Family members sometimes call other members of their family ‘our.’

  • I’m doing plot analysis for a 5 min oral, but I don’t understand how to do it…..can u please give me 2 major aspects of the plot I can try and expand on?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment David. You might focus on how the Kelvey girls are treated by the other girls in school. You could look at why Kezia isn’t allowed tell the other children in school about the doll’s house. Linking this with the treatment of the Kelvey girls. How Kezia might also be isolated (by her sister) like the Kelvey girls. You could look at Aunt Beryl’s treatment of the Kelvey girls and link it to how Kezia treats them. Another thing you could look at is how Lil and Kezia are connected by the lamp in the doll’s house.

      • Thank you so much!! I have one more question, what 3 reasons do you think made the climax and the denouement(ending) so effective? For some reason i just cant find the right words…..

        • Dermot (Post Author)

          The first reason might be that the reader never suspects that Lil was as focused on the lamp as Kezia was. Which connects both girls. The second reason is that Kezia went against the will of everyone else (opening the gates) and thirdly Mansfield closed off the disconnect that existed between the Kelvey girls and at least one other person (Kezia). Which is a start. It may mean the Kelvey girls will be accepted by others too.

  • In your opinion, why do you think the turning point in the story is effective? Thanks!

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Kevin. If you are taking the turning point as being when Kezia asks the Kelvey girls into her home to see the doll’s house. Then the reason it is effective is because for the first time in the story the Kelvey girls are being accepted and included by one of their peers (Kezia). Symbolically this is noticeable when Kezia opens the gate. It might also be significant that by affording the Kelvey girls the opportunity to see the doll’s house and by having Lil see the lamp too. Mansfield is also connected both Lil and Kezia.

  • What does this symbolizes [emmie swallowed in a very meaning way and nodded to Isabel as she’d seen her mother do on those occasions.] And why didn’t Lil say anything when those girls tease her

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Otanganedzwa. Emmie is probably trying to give her statement ‘It’s true—it’s true—it’s true’ validity. Though it is also possible that she knows she is lying and that may be why she swallows as her mother does. Similar to taking a breath before lying.

      It is most likely that Lil remains silent because she feels as though she has been beaten by the other girls. No matter what she says to them. They will answer her back. Also Lil may feel ashamed of her background. Knowing that she is not as fortunate as the other girls in school.

  • Why “WHEN” was written in big font @ the beginning of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Sanele. I’ve checked a few of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories from her The Collected Stories collection and every story has the first word in uppercase. It is most likely the style that was used by the printer/publisher and has no significant meaning.

  • Can you give me the theme of this drama and critical questions?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Mahreen. The theme of the story is class, prejudice, connection, hope, appearance and equality. Some critical questions include.

      Why does Aunt Beryl dislike the Kelvey girls?

      What is the significance symbolically of the lamp in the doll’s house?

      Why do Else and Lil say so little in the story?

  • Which is moral lesson in this drama?

  • Please upload the themes if the teacher says explain the theme of this so I want the theme with explanation .

  • What is the mood and tone of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Brandon. The mood of the story is one of disappointment. The Kelvey girls are ostracized by others due to their background. As for the tone. For the most the tone is also one of disappointment though through Kezia’s character Mansfield manages to add a bright light of optimism.

  • What is the theme and mood

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Ok. The central theme of the story is class with sub themes that include prejudice, connection, hope, appearance and equality. As for the mood of the story I would suggest the mood of the story is one of disappointment with a ray of hope.

  • What does the narrator mean by the following ‘They whip off their hats.’?

  • In the story which lines are figurative

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Taking figurative to mean language that should not be taken literally. I came across two examples. There may be more.

      What a little guy she looked.

      The carpet made a great sensation.

  • Which lines can we find figures of speech?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      There are a few examples. Below are two.

      She was a tiny wishbone of a child.

      Like two little stray cats they followed across the courtyard.

  • Hi Dermot

    Please assist with who is Mrs Hay and who is Aunt Beryl and why are are they at the Burnell’s house?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Chwayita. Mrs Hay was visiting the Burnell’s. She is a friend of the Burnells. After her visit she left the doll’s house for the children. Aunt Beryl lives with the Burnell’s.

  • Can I ask a question “Describe Isabel in the Dolls House ?” Please give me a nice description about Isabel. Thank You .

  • Hi Dermot

    Can I ask a question about “Describe the Dolls House ?” Please give me a good description.I am waiting for the answer .

    Thank you too .

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The best description I can give is the one that Mansfield herself gives in the 2nd and 3rd paragraph of the story.

  • The results of peer pressure on Isabelle and her friends, and Elsa and Lil?? Can u answer this question for my exam

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The effect of peer pressure is more noticeable on Else and Lil. With both girls being ostracized or made to feel like outcasts by the other children. Isabelle probably knows that she has to follow her friends in school rather than be nice or helpful to Else and Lil. If she is to be accepted by her friends.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The peer pressure is also based on social status. With Else and Lil being discriminated against because of their class and how they look. The only one who does not judge Else and Lil is Kezia.

  • Thanks for assisting us.

  • Hey, just a quick question. Is this considered a peer reviewed journal?

  • thanks..why does the speaker say our else?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Mansfield is probably using the term to show familiarity which would draw in the theme of connection. Family members sometimes call other members of their family ‘our’

  • Thank you. You really managed to make the story a whole lot simpler.

  • Thanks a lot.

  • Could you do thematic, linguistic analysis.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I really just stick to trying to figure out the themes of the story and if I see some symbolism I include that as well.

  • I like your thematic analysis of Mansfield’s stories it helps me a lot for exam preparation

  • Whose social attitude are an important aspect of the story? And why is that?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Mansfield appears to be focused on class. The reason being she most likely wanted to highlight the difference in attitude among those who were upper class (Rosemary).

  • What does the lamp signify? And why?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Lamp symbolizes connection. A connection between Keisha and Else. They are the only two people who notice the lamp.

  • Create a dialogue between two Burnell Sisters Keiza and Isabel. In the dialogue cover and reveal their differences such as innocence, warm-hearted, sensitive and cruel and insensitiveness

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I’m sorry Cindy but I have a back log of stories that I’m trying to catch up on. That’s were my primary focus is at the moment.

  • Can you show me the irony of this work?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I’m not sure if there is any irony in the story. Perhaps the fact that it is two children (Kezia and Else) who make a connection when one would expect it to be adults (Mrs Burnell and Aunt Beryl) who have an understanding of others (the Kelveys).

  • When Aunt says “run away, children, run away at once. And don’t come back again .” What does this tell us about life or human experience?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      For me it suggests that Aunt Beryl (or certain people) do not necessarily want to connect with some people (the Kelveys). Based solely on their class.

  • Please explain the irony in the words,’Wicked, disobedient little girl’ said by Aunt Beryl to Kezia, after chasing the Kelvey girls away.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      It may be ironic because all Kezia is actually doing is trying to connect with the Kelvey girls. If anyone is being wicked it is Aunt Beryl who doesn’t want Kezia to associate with the Kelvey girls.

  • Do u know where I can find good info on how social class, injustice and inequality was back in the 1800-1920 century. I’m struggling to find this and I have to link it to the time period for my homework. Like for example, the Kelvey sisters are deemed unimportant and face rejection from society. I want to link this to the time period but I’m struggling to find information.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Most of what you are looking for can be found in academic journals. Though they might not be available online. However a quick search here might help.

  • Can you please explain to me in detail the meaning of these quotes:

    “But why not?” and “Run away, Kezia; you know quite well why not.”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Kezia is asking Aunt Beryl why the Kelvey girls have to leave. As for the second quote Aunt Beryl is reaffirming her authority over the Kelvey girls.

  • What opportunity did the Doll’s House give them? Thanks for helping 🙂

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Doll’s House symbolically represents connection. So the Kelvey girls where able to connect with Kezia. Class barriers were taken down (for a moment).

  • The doll’s house is described as a ‘perfect, perfect little house’. What could the doll’s house symbolise in the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The doll’s house symbolizes class. Mansfield suggesting that those who were upper class may have considered themselves to be perfect.

  • Hi Dermot, I have a few questions.

    1.The way in which Aunt Beryl treats the Kelveys may be regarded as the climax of the story. Explain.
    2.Explain in what way the ending of the story touches the reader
    3.The doll’s house is described as a “perfect, perfect little house”. What could the doll’s house symbolise in the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      1. Taking class as one of the main themes of the story. This statement could be true as Aunt Beryl is trying to dissociate herself and Kezia from the Kelvey girls who she considers to be beneath her class.

      2. The fact that Else makes a connection with others may be considered to be heart-warming.

      3. The doll’s house symbolizes class. Mansfield suggesting that those who were upper class may have considered themselves to be perfect.

      • 1.The eldest girl, Isabel, “held quite a court”. Explain the metaphor and how it describes her behaviour.

        2.How do the actions of the adults reveal their prejudices?

        • Dermot (Post Author)

          1. It is as though Isabel dictates to others. It may also suggest that Isabel was in control of others.

          2. Taking Aunt Beryl as an example. She shuns the Kelvey girls. Showing herself to be ignorant and arrogant. Basing her motives solely on the Kelvey girls’ social class.

  • 1. How is Aunt Beryl related to the Burnell’? Worker or also a Burnell?
    2. Who is the man that is mentioned that was to meet Aunt Beryl and why she stressing?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      1. Aunt Beryl is either Mr or Mrs Burnell’s sister.

      2. I don’t recall that there is a man that Aunt Beryl is waiting to see. Is that at the end of the story?

      • Willie Brent. Sent a letter to Aunt Beryl saying she must meet him at Pulman’s Bush. The last part of the story, it is also said it was a terrifying letter

        • Dermot (Post Author)

          I’m not sure who Willie Brent is. He might be Aunt Beryl’s boyfriend. As to why the letter is terrifying. Perhaps Willie is breaking his engagement with Aunt Beryl. I don’t know for sure though.

  • What are the 2 reason from story why Elsie is ‘dazed ‘

  • Hi I would like to ask this question. Why are the Kelvey girls not allowed to mix with other children in the community?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Kelvey girls are isolated by others due to their social class. With the other girls considering the Kelvey girls to be working class and as such not suitable for them to mix with.

  • How does lil and else differ from the other school girls compared to clothes, parents, houses and education?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Lil and Else clothes are made by their mother from scraps given to them by the other girl’s parents. Lil and Else’s father is supposed to be in prison. I’m not sure about their living arrangements (houses) and as far as it comes to education the teacher does not place much focus on Lil and Else.

  • plz help me with this few questions
    1. Refer to line (it doesn’t matter….nobody looking)
    mention two character traits that are revealed about kezia in this line
    2. Refer to line (our Else was….her skirt again)
    why does the writer keep on referring to Else as our Else
    3. Refer to line (oh what a start… into the courtyard)
    Identity and discuss the theme evident in these line
    4. What symbolic evidence is revealed in the play, that there is hope that things might change in the Mansfield community

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      1. Kezia is showing independence from others and is connecting with the Kelvey girls.
      2. Using the word ‘our’ refers to a family remember or close friend.
      3. Without reading the full line I’m suggesting the theme of inclusion is being explored.
      4. Kezia showing the Kelvey girls the doll’s house and the fact hat Else sees the lamp too.

  • Why does the writer call Else ‘our Else’

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Usually when a person uses the term ‘our’ before a person’s name they are either a family member or expressing familiarity.

  • refer to line 1to 2 u can come …still harder?

  • who is kezia?

  • explain what we learn about Kezia character when she invites the kelveys to the dolls house?

  • 1′ The next morning ‘refers to which morning?

    2 who is refereed to as EVERYBODY?

    3 what its that she was to tell and why her in particular?

  • Thanks a lot.

  • Thank you, will help me in my exam tomorrow!!!

  • Hi Dermot Thabelo here. A very helpful post this is. I was wondering if you know or have any link where I could download this book

  • Hi,

    please can you answer this question of an essay

    what does the dolls house tells us about attitudes towards social class in the early 20th century?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      As readers we learn that people who are of a lower social status are isolated by those of a higher class. They are made fun of, ridiculed and made to feel lesser as human beings. Though there are exceptions (Kezia) who will forget about social status and be inclusive of everybody. Regardless of class.

  • Thank you so much for this wonderful website. It’s been a great help for studying various short stories for my exam.

  • Thank you for those information It’s very beneficial for my studies , but I have a small question and I need an answer because I have an exam soon, what is the significance of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Mansfield highlights that some people judge others based on their class. Each character in the story judges the Kelvey girls with the exception of Kezia. She through her actions acts as a connection between the classes. A connection that is impossible without Kezia’s efforts.

  • In five sentences provide a brief synopsis of the story

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Two sisters (the Kelvey girls) are isolated by their peers due to their social status (lower class). The result is that they are teased by their peers and made fun off. One girl Kezia transcends these barriers and connects with the Kelvey girls by way of introducing the Kelvey girls to her doll’s house. By doing so Kezia manages to break down any class barriers that had previously existed and bring some joy to the lives of the Kelvey girls. Mansfield using the lamp in the doll’s house as symbolism for the connection between the Kelvey girls and Kezia.

  • What are the effects of social hierarchy on the Kelvey girls

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Kelvey girls are isolated and ostracized due to their social status by the other girls in school. They are made to feel unwanted.

  • Thank you so much for your work! It really helped me a lot 🙂

  • Hi! May I ask about the ppl inside the doll’s house. The parents being stiff and the children being too big

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Mansfield may be using the people inside the doll’s house as a metaphor for some of the characters in the story. By saying they are stiff Mansfield may be suggesting that people like Aunt Beryl are unbending when it comes to those of a lower class (the Kelvey girls). Likewise stating that the people are too big may reflect on the egos being too big on people like the girls in school, Aunt Beryl and Kezia’s mother and sisters.

  • What did the letter brent sent meant to aunt beryl? Who was she meeting at pulmans bush? Why was she relieved when she shooed the kelveys and scolded keziah?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I’m working from memory as I don’t recall a letter but it may have been from Brent himself suggesting that Aunt Beryl meet him at Pulman’s Bush. The fact hat Aunt Beryl was relieved may have to do with the fact that she feels as though she has restored the balance of power.

  • Why is the story named the doll’s house?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Firstly because there is a doll’s house at the centre of the story and secondly because Mansfield is comparing the stiff like figures in the doll’s house to those who disassociate themselves from the Kelvey girls.

  • How are Mrs Burnell and Mrs Kelvey described?

  • Thank you for the good work. It really helps me a lot and can you describe the mood of the story please?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I would describe the mood as being sad due to the fact that the Kelvey girls are isolated by others. The mood however does shift to optimism at the end of the story when Else manages to connect with Keiza (through the lamp).

  • thank you for your helpful information. Can you explain more about the lamp symbolize for what? My friend say that the lamp represent for awaking.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I would think the lamp symbolizes the connection between Else and Kezia. They are the only two who see the lamp and as such it connects both characters together.

  • Hi. Can I conclude that one of the themes is indoctrination. How children can be indoctrinated into believing that it is a taboo for them to be seen interacting with people of a lower class than them?

  • Identify the social statuses of the Burnells and the kelveys

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The Burnells are middle class while the Kelveys are lower class. One reason as to how we know this is that the Burnells get a doll’s house (a luxury) as a gift and the Kelvey’s can’t afford to buy themselves clothes (a necessity).

  • This story is a disturbing story of a society in which snobbery and cruelly are regarded as acceptable behavior. Can you explain it please?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      You have a good grip on the story. It is about class and how those of lower class can be excluded by others (middle class).

  • From Burnell’s side we have two daughters: Kezia and Isabel, Who is Lottie?

  • How does the imagery of the doll’s house and the lamp reveal the central themes of the story

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The doll’s house is an environment that people (toys) share. While the lamp connects both Kezia and Else as they are the only two who see it. Any class barrier that may have existed between the two has been broken down.

  • Thank you very much this might be helpful for my exam ‘What are the themes of the doll’s house and why do you say so?’

  • Identity and discuss the figure of speech in the title of new tribe as it relates to events of the story the

  • I have a question, why does the writer keep saying “our else” in the short story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      It is a term of affection that Mansfield uses to highlight Lil’s love for Else and to highlight that Else is her sister or part of her (our) family.

  • what would be the solution or resolution of this story?

  • Who are the jailbirls in the story? Why are they called so?

  • What is the writer’s attitude towards the townspeople?

  • Write a note on author’s opinion about the Kelvey’s.

  • How does the author Katherine Mansfield show the innocence of small children and cruelty of the society in the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The innocence is shown by way of the fact that very few of the children have ever seen a doll’s house. The cruelty is shown through the children’s (and Aunt Beryl’s) reaction to the Kelvey’s.

  • Comment on the title of the story.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Mansfield may be using the title to highlight the aloofness of the middle classes. A doll’s house would be an expensive item to own. So only middle class people would own one.

  • The writer criticizes the elite society in the story.Discuss

  • Do children all over the world face a situation similar to that depicted in the story?Elucidate.

  • Why are the other girls laughing at lil.

  • What other metaphor does the author add to the above (she was a tiny wishbone of a child) and how does it add to the picture of Else that we have

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Are you missing a line. The metaphor you highlight views Else as a skinny child who may or may not be malnourished.

  • thank you so much for your post but I have one question. What are the differences and similarities between Isabel Burnell and lil Kelvey please.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      They are both the oldest child in their family. Isabel however is spoiled and Lil lives a very plain truth. Relying on others to help her and Else out.

  • 1.1.1Hw are Mrs Burnell and Mrs kelvey described in this short story
    1.12refer to lines (“like two little..doll”s house stood’)
    A. Identify the figure of speech in this line
    B.explain why this figure of speech is appropriate.
    1.1.3 give two examples from the story that the kelveys are poor.
    1.1.4 give two possible reason why else is ‘dazed’ in line 20-22 (‘They did not …The White gates’)
    1.1.5 explain the irony in the words, wicked , disobedient little girl” ( line 23 ) in the context of the story as a whole .
    1.1.6 in ur opion , do the kelveys contribute to the way in which they are treated? Discuss ur view

  • what does the following sentence tell us about the way children can learn values and behavior from their parents?
    find the sentence in the story to read its context: “Emmie nodded to Isabel as she’d seen her mother do on those occasions”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      What I do know from the question is that Emmie is following the values of her mother to support her case. Which may suggest that Emmie is not a free thinker.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Emmie is as cruel as her mother when it comes to the suggestion that Lil Kelvey will grow up to be a servant. She has carried her mother’s values and thoughts without making up her own mind.

  • Really thank you very much Dermot you’ve helped me so much understand the story and analyze it. I have a quiz tomorrow and I was really afraid but after reading your explanation and the whole comments I feel like I can answer any questions.

    But in my book there is a question asking who is the outsider and the outcast. I guess the outsider is Kezia and the outcasts are the Kelveys.

  • What is the symbolism of the doll’s house???

  • Thank you very much that was helpful. I have some questions I’d like to know the answer.

    1/why the writer choose the school not another place?
    2/what do these character symbolize (the rich girls, the poor girls, lamp, aunt and school)
    3/What is the definition of the class system and what is its effect on American society?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      1. Perhaps she choose the school in the hope that the girls would learn something from their actions.

      2. The rich girls symbolize middle class society. The poor girls symbolize the working class. The lamp symbolizes connection and the school as a place of learning symbolizes Mansfield’s hopes that the girls will learn something.

      3. I’m afraid you will have to search further for an answer. Perhaps search for a definition of ‘class system.’

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