How many characters are in "The Doll's House" by Katherine Mansfield?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First, there's Mrs. Hay (#1), the woman who stayed with the Burnell family and so sent the doll's house as a thank you gift to them. There is also someone named Pat (#2) who helps carry the new doll's house inside, pried it open with his pen knife, and then later picked the Burnell girls up with the cart.

Then, there's the Burnell children, who receive the doll's house and marvel over its contents: Isabel (#3), Lottie (#4), and Kezia (#5). Their mother has a line or two as well (#6).

There are also other nameless children who never speak directly or are referred to as doing anything important, so we won't count them either. We do hear from Aunt Beryl (#7) in the story, when she finds the Kelveys with Kezia at the doll's house, and she cruelly shoos the poor Kelvey girls away.

Obviously, there's also the Kelvey children: Lil (#8) and Else (#9).

Finally, there's also Emmie Cole (#10), the mean girl on the playground who just wanted "to be horrid to" the poor Kelvey girls and told Lil she would be a servant when she grows up. Lena Logan (#11) and Jessie May (#12) get in on the cruel fun as well.

That makes a total of twelve characters in the story.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way of finding out the answer to this question is of course to read it, however, I will summarise the main characters for you. There are two families that are referred to in the story: the Burnells and the Kelveys. As befitting the message of the story which is based on social class and the way that humanity always tends to exclude and oppress others, the Burnells are very well-to-do and the Kelveys are shunned by society. The Burnell sisters - Isabel, Lottie and Kezia feature heavily in the story as the owners of the Doll's House, and the Kelvey sisters, Else and Lil, feature as the shunned minority who are not allowed to even see the Doll's House until Kezia lets the Kelvey's in to see the Doll's House. Unfortunately, then Kezia's Aunt Beryl throws the Kelveys out, reinforcing class distinctions and ruining Kezia's innocent gesture of class equality.

Clearly the most interesting characters in my mind are Else and Kezia - Kezia for her decision to show the House to the Kelveys, and Else in her final comment regarding the lamp, which you would do well to analyse further and consider what its symbolic importance might be.

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The Doll's House

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