What is a summary of “The Doll's House”?

In “The Doll's House,” the Burnell daughters receive a beautiful doll house. At school, they tell their friends and begin to invite others to see it. They are not allowed to invite Lil and Else Kelvey, the daughters of a poor but industrious woman. Once everyone else has seen the doll house, Kezia Burnell invites the Kelveys. Though they are eventually chased off by Kezia’s aunt, they are still content.

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Isabel, Lottie, and Kezia Burnell are excited to receive a new doll's house as a gift. The sisters carefully inspect the incredible detailing in the house, such as its door which gleams with yellow varnish and its hall with a tiny hat stand and two umbrellas. The girls believe that they have never seen a thing as marvelous as their new house in their entire lives.

They carry this excitement with them to school the next morning, telling everyone all about their new doll's house. Isabel quickly appoints herself as the prime source of distributing the information, since she is oldest sister. She also gets to decide which girls may visit the house first to share in the beauty of their new house.

At recess, almost the entire class of girls crowds around Isabel. In fact, only two girls remain outside their circle: Lil and Else Kelvey. Most of the children at school are not even allowed to talk to these girls because of their socioeconomic status. Their mother is a washerwoman, and no one is sure where their father is. They dress in bits of clothing that people give to their mother, and their outfits are a source of disdain among the other girls at school.

As the days pass, eventually all of the girls at school are invited to see the Burnell's doll's house—except the Kelvey sisters. At school, some of the girls publicly ridicule them, asking Lil if she's going to be a servant and then proclaiming that their father is likely in prison.

Back at home, the Burnell sisters are called inside to greet visitors, but Kezia remains outside, alone. Eventually, the Kelvey sisters walk by, and Kezia greets them. The Kelveys are stunned but stop to talk to her. Kezia invites them to see her doll's house, but Lil gasps that Mrs. Burnell has instructed Kezia not to speak to them. Kezia replies that it doesn't matter and leads them to the house.

As the Kelveys inspect the little house, Kezia's aunt appears out of nowhere. She yells at the Kelveys to run away and never to return, shooing them like chickens out of their yard. She calls Kezia a "wicked, disobedient little girl" for inviting the Kelveys onto their property.

Out of sight of the Burnells' property, the Kelvey sisters sit together and quietly recall the details of the beautiful doll's house.

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In “The Doll’s House,” the three Burnell daughters are gifted a beautiful doll’s house by a family friend. It is freshly painted and furnished with perfect little tables and beds and lamps. The girls adore the gift and marvel over its miniature perfection.

The next day, the girls are so excited to tell their school friends about the doll house, and Isabel—the oldest—is given permission to invite other girls over, two at a time, to see it. Almost all the other girls at school fawn over Isabel at lunch and recess, breathless to hear her news—all but the Kelveys. Mrs. Kelvey is a cleaning woman, and her husband is rumored to be in jail, and the girls—Lil and Else—do not have nice clothes and eat jam sandwiches in newspaper wrapping, an indication of their poverty. They are considered to be “common,” and even the teachers treat them differently. The Kelveys sit close enough to Isabel to hear of the doll house, but they keep their distance, so as not to become a target of the girls’ cruelty.

Soon, all of the girls at school have come to see the doll house, except Else and Lil, so Kezia—the youngest and kindest Burnell daughter—wants to invite them, but her family tells her that she cannot. That day, with the excitement of the doll house past, the other girls are mean to Else and Lil, as if they need something else to fill their time.

When Kezia sees the Kelveys walking home later on, she invites them in to see the doll house, but they hesitate, because they know they are not supposed to play with the Burnells. Else clearly wants to go, so Lil gives in, but when Kezia’s Aunt Beryl spots them, she chases them off. Despite the harsh treatment of Kezia’s aunt, Lil and Else enjoy a blissful moment, their innocence allowing them to revel in the beauty of the doll house that they just saw.

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In this excellent short story by Katherine Mansfield, we are presented with the Burnell sisters, called Isabel, Lottie and Kezia, who are given a large doll's house, a marvellous toy that delights them and dazzles their schoolmates. The Burnells are a wealthy family who live in a rural area of New Zealand where all the children from the area attend the same school, regardless of the social status of their families. The Burnell children rejoice in the status that possessing the doll's house gives them, and invite all of their friends at school to see the house one by one, except Else and Lil Kelvey, with whom they are forbidden even to speak. At school, the Kelvey sisters are mercilessly mocked because of their poverty and low social status and they are made fun of with the accusation that their absent father is actually in prison.

However, one day, the youngest Burnell sister, Kezia, sees Else and Lil passing by her house and she invites them in to see the doll's house. They come in but are interrupted by a very fierce Aunt Beryl, who tells of Kezia for inviting them in and throws out the Kelveys. Still, Else Kelvey is deeply moved by seeing the doll's house and in particular by her glimpse of the little lamp, which can be said to symbolise the warmth of human kindness.

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