In Catherine Mansfield's " The Doll's house", the main theme is on the injustices and cruelty associated with class distinctions. Set in New Zealand sometime after it becomes a colony, Mansfield shows how the differences among social classes are closely adhered to. She also explores themes such as how the high class people take deliberate pleasure in being cruel to the lower classes, and how innocently born children who are brought up in this atmosphere can become easily influenced. Mansfield uses symbolism, particularly the doll house and the lamp, to reveal these themes.
The doll house is symbolic of the upper class people in this society, such as the Burnell's. The Burnell's are undoubtedly content with their position in society and with the lifestyle they live. When the doll house is dropped off in their courtyard, they become immediately proud of it, just like how they are of themselves. " But perfect, perfect little house! Who could possibly mind the smell?" The doll house may indeed seem perfect, but what it represents is something negative. The only negative part of the doll house is it's smell, and this represents the cruelty of society. Later on in the story when the reader sees the Burnell family neglecting the lower class people such as the Kelvey's, the smell represents the cruelty that they themselves give to society. Another symbolic aspect of the doll house is how closely it represents their own home. The burnell children are only allowed to let the types of children that would be accepted within their home see the doll house.
The immediate setting of the story is a rural area where different classes are forced to deal with each other in everyday situations. " The Burnell children would have attended a ritzy private school had there been one nearby, but as it is, their school is the only one for miles, so they are forced to attend a school that has a mixed group of children- both high and low class." By...
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