The Doll's House (short story)

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The Doll's House is a 1922 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in The Nation and Atheneum on 4 February 1922, and subsequently appeared in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories. An alternative title used by Mansfield in other editions was At Karori.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Mrs Hay has given a dolls' house to the Burnell children; it is minutely described, with special emphasis on a lamp inside of it as they want to tell us that there is some hope for the town to stop from class discrimination, which the youngest girl, Kezia, thinks is the best part of the dolls' house. The next morning they cannot wait to show it off to their school friends; Isabel bossily says she will be the one to decide who is allowed to come and see it in the house as she is the eldest. The Kelveys, two poor girls, Lil and our Else, will not be allowed to do so because they are of a much lower social class. Later, Isabel and two of her friends, Emmie Cole and Lena Logan, taunt the Kelveys about their low social status. Soon afterwards Kezia impulsively decides to show them the house anyway as she does not understand why the Kelveys have to be treated like this. Aunt Beryl, worried about an insisting letter from a certain Willie Brent, walks in on them, shoos away the Kelveys, scolds Kezia, then feels better. The Kelveys have managed to see the lamp, though, and our Else smiles joyfully, which is rare. The story ends with them being silent once more.

Major themes[edit]

The school is portrayed as a melting pot or mixing of all social classes, and the Kelveys as the lowest of the social classes. The other children are discouraged from talking to them; they are outcasts.

Literary significance[edit]

The text is written in the modernist mode, with minute details and haphazard narrative voices.


  1. ^ Katherine Mansfield, Selected Stories, Oxford World's Classics, explanatory notes

External links[edit]