In "The Doll's House" by Katherine Mansfield, it is obvious that she is trying to show the difference between the world of adults and children. What are some specific images/terms that she uses to...

In "The Doll's House" by Katherine Mansfield, it is obvious that she is trying to show the difference between the world of adults and children. What are some specific images/terms that she uses to express this?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the Burnell children are opening up their doll's house, Mansfield portrays the wonder and perspective of children uncovering a new and mysterious miniature world. When the children open the door to the house, Mansfield writes, "How much more exciting than peering through the slit of a door into a mean little hall with a hat-stand and two umbrellas!" And then the children think, "Perhaps it is the way God opens houses at dead of night when He is taking a quiet turn with an angel." Mansfield conveys the wonder of children through such terms and images as God opening "houses at dead of night," while the adults, on the other hand, concentrate on the smell of the paint coming from the doll's house. Aunt Beryl thinks, " For, really, the smell of paint coming from that doll's house." While the children focus on the wonder of the house, the adults focus on its inconvenience and odd smell.

The symbol of the lamp in the doll house symbolizes the children's wonder. Kezia does not care that the lamp does not work. As Mansfield writes, "the lamp was perfect. It seemed to smile to Kezia, to say, 'I live here.' The lamp was real." The lamp makes the doll's house and its inhabitants come alive to the children.

At the end of the story, Aunt Beryl harshly scolds the Kelvey children for coming to the Burnells' house to look at the doll's house, but the Kelveys quickly forget about her scolding and only care that they have seen the magical little lamp. Mansfield writes of Lil and Else Kelvey:

"But now she [Lil] had forgotten the cross lady. She put out a finger and stroked her sister's quill; she smiled her rare smile. 'I seen the little lamp,' she said, softly."

In this touching episode, Mansfield portrays the Kelveys as only caring about the lamp in the way children do and forgetting the snobbish and cruel world of adults. The lamp symbolizes the children's sense of wonder and magic.