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Dealing With Social Ostracism In ‘The Doll’s House' By Katherine Mansfield

1454 words - 6 pages

Anyone who lived through high school gym class knows the desperation of being picked last for the sports team. The same hurt feelings bubble up when you are excluded from lunch with co-workers, fail to land the job interviewed for or are dumped by a romantic partner. Within a society, social classes are unavoidable. In the short story ‘The Doll’s House’, the author, Katherine Mansfield examines the difficulties dealing with class-consciousness and social ostracism in this society, also the influence on Isabel by Aunt Beryl. Mansfield uses various language techniques to intensify the message, class prejudice corrupts innocence and egalitarian attitude.
 Social groups have long been a part ...view middle of the document...

’ establishes that everything in the house is artificial and decorated beautifully, which symbolizes the artificiality of the elite class. The appearance of the doll’ house is opulent, and only few girls could go to see it mirrors the high class society. Colour red, gold and green symbolize extravagant and power in the society. Gold is intimately linked with Divinity and those gods associated with the Sun. It symbolizes affluence, material wealth, egotistical and success. It has a negative connotation of pretentiousness. Red symbolizes power, aggression, domineering and brutal. Darker greens relate to money, wealth and prestige. Green is regarded as the color of money in the Western world. It leads to feelings of envy, greed and selfishness. Isabel and Lottie who are the children from Burnell pay extreme attention to these exuberant, embellished decorations, which shows that they understand the concept of social consciousness and the differentiation by class. The relative privilege and security enjoyed by upper-class individuals give rise to independence from others and a prioritization of the self and one's own welfare over the welfare of others. The comforts and luxuries of the upper classes are drastically above and beyond those of the lower classes. However, the youngest Burnell child, Kezia, unlike her older two sisters, has yet to learn of the sharp social divisions that divide her society from people that she should talk to and people that she shouldn't. She focuses on the simple lamp in the doll’s house rather than the sumptuous decoration. ‘But what Kezia liked more than anything, what she liked frightfully, was the lamp. It stood in the middle of the dining-room table, an exquisite little amber lamp with a white globe.’ indicates that Kezia pays attention to the things that are essential to life. Lamps are essential to human life in early 19 century; human are dependent on candles and oil lamps despite rich and poor. Kezia describes the lamp as amber, however Isabel describes the lamp as colour yellow in the middle of the story. This shows the different perspective of how Kezia and Isabel see the world. Isabel speaks of the lamp indicates that she does not find it out of the ordinary; Yellow is a primary colour which represents the shallow of human dynamic of Isabel. She forms an opinion on someone based purely on what she sees on the surface and aware of social consciousness. Isabel has a feeling, that by social ranking, she is superior. Her purity and egalitarian attitude are corrupted as concept of class prejudice enters her life.
Mansfield also uses metaphor and dialogue To intensify the message.... In the story, the way in which the Burnell girls are treated as school celebrities because of the dollhouse. The girls at the playground put their hands around Burnell Children, talk to Burnell children, and ask for turns to see the dollhouse. This shows the dollhouse as a symbol of class separation and the girls are fitted to...

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