Can I please have some feedback on my Dolls House essay

Question: Analyse how symbolism helped your understanding of key themes

In the short story ‘The Dolls House’, written by Katherine Mansfield, symbolism is used to help the reader understand and appreciate the key theme. Katherine Mansfield’s purpose is to show how the difference of social classes can shape lives, relationships and individuals personalities. There are two families in this short story, the Kelveys who are from a low social class and the Burnells who are from a high social class. Mansfield uses symbolism throughout the short story to support this key theme.

The first type of symbolism is shown through the Dolls House itself. The social classes, what was to come in the story, and how Isabel used it to gain popularity are all represented by it. A wealthy family friend thanks the Burnells for letting her stay at their home by giving Isabel, Kezia, and Lottie a doll’s house at the beginning of the story. This depicts the family’s high social position, their friends, and how privileged they are to receive gifts like the dollhouse. Even though the Burnell children saw the doll house as a positive, Aunt Beryl foreshadows the story’s eventual unfavourable outcome. “But the smell of paint was quite enough to make anyone seriously ill. The doll’s house also represents how Isabel lures her friends with it. The kids couldn’t wait to tell their school friends about their new toy. “Im to tell”, said Isabel, “because I’m the eldest”. Isabel is a determined individual who uses her high social status to influence her schoolmates. I believe Mansfield used this technique to show how people from high social classes can use their wealth negatively to make others feel lower than themselves. This also fits under the theme Mansfield was trying to portray, how the difference of social classes can impact our personalities. This point is relevant even in today’s society. People feel they need money to make the quality of their lives better.

The children’ clothes and school lunches were another approach to represent how the difference of social classes affect our personalities. The Burnells would eat their “Thick mutton sandwiches…” for lunch the Kelyveys ate their “Jam sandwiches wrapped in newspaper”. Mansfield also discussed the attire used by both households. The Burnells wore the most costly and modern clothing. When we find out that the Kelvey family had to use second-hand clothing from wealthy families for their wardrobe, it is a sad moment in the narrative. The Burnells tablecloth that had been converted into a dress and was being worn by Else. "What a little guy she looked’’ These minor elements were incorporated into the narrative by Mansfield to represent the difference of the various social classes. The majority of the high social class children had little respect for lower class families. “Lil Kelvey is going to be a servant when she grows up,” a friend of Isabel’s predicts. They showed no consideration for them, which demonstrates how these young ladies picked up similar attitudes from their parents. This shows that they have been bought up being told that they’re the best and everyone else is below them. I think Mansfield physically described the children’s lunch and clothes to demonstrate what was affordable for different people and how high social classes didn’t care about how little the low social class families had.

Near the story’s conclusion, a reference is made to the white gates leading to the Burnell family house. They stand in for the actual wall that separates the Burnells and Kelveys. The Kelveys are the target of discrimination throughout the entire narrative. Mansfield went so far as to portray the Kelveys as “sub-human” using animal imagery. “A tiny wishbone of a child”, “A little white ow”, "Like two stray cats’ ‘, “As if they were chickens” and "Those little rats of Kelveys’ '. Most high social class families saw them in this light and avoided interacting with such deplorable individuals. One person, Kezia, wished to welcome the Kelveys and didn’t see the need in forbidding them from visiting the dolls house. She tried to accept them, as evidenced by the fact that she asked Aunt Beryl whether the Kelyveys could view it but was refused. “Run away Kezia, you know quite well why not”. . Kezia swings open the large white gates to her house when she notices the Kelveys strolling by. This represents her physically erasing the line separating the upper and lower social classes. It represents the positive aspects of Kezia, who was kind and content to accept people for who they were despite her family’s objections. I think Mansfield included this aspect to show that it takes one small action to be caring and accepting of others. It represents that not everyone is affected by the social classes and although Kezia was from a wealthy family, being kind came first. She didn’t mind that she was from the Burnell family, she minded that everyone was included and welcomed. I believe Mansfield’s purpose is to demonstrate to society that a small act of kindness can go a long way.

Mansfield uses many features which symbolise how the difference of social classes can shape lives, relationships and individuals personalities. This was Mansfield’s key
theme and I believe she used this theme as it’s relevant to society today and to many individuals’ lives.

Kiā ora and welcome to Studyit. Great to have you with us.
The intro needs to address both parts of the question and if it can mention the purpose of the author in creating the text it is doing well. You have a clear theme outlined and generally mention symbolism - but maybe you could mention symbolism of what broadly.
You structure the essay soundly, looking at each example and then explaining it in light of the theme. Then purpose could be developed a little more maybe. Eg. You say "I think Mansfield physically described the children’s lunch and clothes to demonstrate what was affordable for different people and how high social classes didn’t care about how little the low social class families had." Mansfield’s purpose was to make us aware of the singular outward differences there are that signify or indicate a certain social class or standing. These differences are established and become entrenched as the higher group derides those of the lower class and want the lower class to aspire to the trappings of the higher class and admire them, endorsing their superiority.
It is also a situation of a certain time. Just think now of the way using second hand material would be seen - as being frugal and aware of the planet>.
A sound essay overall.
JD :grinning: