How can I analyze the dollhouse as a condemnation of class discrimination?

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The doll's house is used in the story to symbolize the kind of lifestyle that the poor will never be able to enjoy, and of which they will only ever catch a tiny glimpse. Society puts a premium on the trappings of wealth; this inevitably serves to exclude its very poorest members, such as the Kelvey sisters. At the same time, the capitalist economic system lures the poor with the promise of all the good things in life they can have if they achieve material wealth.

The Kelvey sisters are so near to the doll's house yet so far. This symbolizes the position of their class within capitalist society. The poor are constantly surrounded by outward signs of the enormous wealth generated by the capitalist system, yet they cannot share in it. Even when Lil and Else do finally get a chance to get a look at the fabled doll's house, it's only when the other, much wealthier girls have become bored with it. This could also be construed as an allegory on capitalism, in that consumer goods are often initially the preserve of the wealthy before they become available to everyone else.

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The dollhouse is a symbol of privilege among the upper class. The Burnell sisters receive the dollhouse as a gift and are permitted by their parents to show it off at school. This only heightens their popularity, since they come from a rich background. However, as the schoolgirls gather around the dollhouse, there are two poor girls that are forbidden from viewing the dollhouse. These are the Kelvey sisters, daughters of a washerwoman and a rumored criminal. Their poor background prevents them from experiencing the same level of privilege as the other girls.

This sets up the main conflict of the story. Class discrimination is presented in something as trivial as a dollhouse. Despite the warnings from her parents, Kezia Burnell allows the Kelvey sisters to view the dollhouse anyway. This act of rebellion can be seen as a condemnation of class discrimination because it goes against what is normally accepted in the upper class. When Kezia shows the Kelvey sisters the dollhouse, she is immediately berated by her aunt. Once the Kelvey sisters escape, Else mentions that she has seen the lamp in the dollhouse. She had a chance to experience something that was once prohibited from her.

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