Discuss how the author describes the feelings and emotional relationships of the small girls in "The Doll's House."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an excellent question as it picks up on the subtle undercurrents of the power relations between the various groups of girls in this story. Of course, the doll's house itself is a symbol of society, with some people included and others excluded from it. Note how this understanding of social division is understood implicitly by the older girls - all except Keziah:

For the fact was, the school the Burnell children went to was not at all the kind of place their parents would have chosen if there had been any choice. But there was none. It was the only school for miles. And the consequence was all the children in the neighbourhood, the Judge's little girls, the doctor's daughters, the storekeeper's children, the milkman's, were forced to mix together. Not to speak of there being an equal number of rude, rough little boys as well. But the line had to be drawn somewhere. It was drawn at the Kelvey's.

This social division is reflected in the relationships of the children by the way that the Kelveys are excluded, isolated and mocked cruelly by the other children, of which there are plenty of examples in the story. For, the story tells us that "They knew better than to come anywhere near the Burnells." And this is the point of the story that Mansfield is trying to establish - we all as children pick up very quickly a sense of where we stand in the world, and act accordingly. It is only Keziah who is young enough not to have been influenced in this way and as a result wants to share the joy of the little lamp (representing hope or the warmth of human kindness) even with the Kelveys.

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The Doll's House

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