What does the mutual interest of the lamp for Kezia and Else signify in Katherine Mansfield's "The Doll's House?"    

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The lamp in the story “The Doll’s House, ” by Katherine Mansfield, stands out in the eyes of Kezia as something so unique that it is worthy of telling everyone about it. In turn, Kezia’s words pique Else’s curiosity and, after finally being able to catch a glimpse of the lamp, she feels a sense of joy,  personal satisfaction and triumph.

The fact that Kezia and Else are drawn equally to this one object, regardless of their different backgrounds, demonstrates that all individuals, regardless of race, creed, or origin, can still share the same values. This is also a symbol of humanity: All humans have the same capacity for appreciation, the same need for acceptance, and the same right to dream of a better life. Within their own circumstances, Else and Kezia embody those three principles. It is in the appreciation of the lamp that their differences in social and economic status also become null, and their essential humanity is further intensified.  

The lamp, Kezia and Else

“The lamp,” as a carrier of light that illuminates the world, has always served as a universal symbol of enlightenment, awakening, and truth. Kezia, a rich girl who still reaches out to the less fortunate, is obviously the only individual in her social circle who is aware of the reality of the world and enlightened with the knowledge that all people are created equal, no matter what their background is. Like the lamp, Kezia, too, stands out from her immediate environment.

On the other hand, Else also stands apart within her own set of circumstances. Her desire to see the lamp shows that, despite the meager conditions in which she lives, she still yearns to see the beauty and uniqueness of the lamp because she can recognize it and appreciate it. This is something that other people of her class, namely, her own mother, would not be able to do.  

Kezia and Else

A close analysis of Kezia and Else show that they are quite similar in their appreciation of the lamp because they both embody what the lamp symbolizes: Knowledge,  awareness, enlightenment, and truth. These two girls, through their appreciation of the small lamp, show that they are different from the people with whom they coexist. The mutual interest in the lamp is a way for the author to show that the love for knowledge, beauty, and life can exist within any heart, no matter how rich or poor it may be.

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The Doll's House

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