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The Doll's House: Summary 02

In the short story 'The Doll's House' by Katherine Mansfield, a main idea that was dealt with was the class distinction the existed in the 1900s, the period of when the story was based on. Through the story, the author illustrates the horrid and wickedness of the social hierarchy system. 

Class distinction was taken for granted in the town where the story was based, the social prejudice believes were past on to children from parents. The children mimic the attitudes of their parents towards those that belonged to the lower class, such as the Kelveys. "The Kelveys were shunned by everybody." In the first place, the upper class parents believed that their children were 'forced to mix together' as it was the 'only school for miles'. Snobbery began to reveal in the story. Although Kezia, the main character, attempts to break and challenge the social hierarchy, she was unsuccessful as Aunt Beryl saw her. "How dare you ask the little Kelveys into the courtyard!" The fact was, who ever breaks the conventional practices would be out-casted. 

The Kelveys were the scapegoats of class distinctions. They were shunned and disliked due to their family background and social status, 'they were the daughters of a washer woman and a gaolbird.' It was something that they have no control over and yet; they were sharply rejected and accused because of it.

During playtime, social prejudice became more obvious as the Kelveys were 'the two who were always outside' of the ring. Katherine Mansfield not only described the attitudes imposed on the Kelveys, but also the viciousness of the brainwashed children. Excitement arouses amongst the children when Lena Logan, a girl from the upper class, bullied the Kelveys. "Yer father's in prison!" she hissed spitefully'.

The two Kelveys were compared to animals throughout the story to highlight their value in the minds of the 'superiors', and also to point out the struggles that they face. Our Else Kelvey was described as 'a little white owl'; 'two little stray cats' and Aunt Beryl even 'shooed them out as if they were chickens.' 

Katherine Mansfield herself believed that class distinctions were unjust and vicious. The idea dealt with in this short story is a reminder from the author that people should be judged as individuals rather than family background. 

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