How to live in a Doll's House

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How to live in a Doll’s House

When a man moves to a foreign place, he takes on a shell-shocked quality that, while uncomfortable, is easily conducive to fast and absolute personal molding. When a youth leaves grade school he is presented with a new plane of freedom that, though replete with glass walls, offers power enough for deep change to be inevitable. When a child makes his first appearance, naked and wet, he might as well be alien. The new surroundings are all that matter, for the past is the past, and pre-existing nature, an undeniably present factor, is easily buried by the influence of current situations. It is this pattern that Katherine Mansfield uses in her short story The Dolls House to show the effect of violence on children. She gives a near scientifically perfect case consisting of four girls: two in one situation and two in another, one in each older and one in each younger. Through this four-part matrix we are shown how violence strafes the world of children by removing imagination from it, and how it teaches children nothing but to perpetuate the injustice that exists. Violence is a lack of imagination. That much is clear to anyone brave enough to analyze the motives behind it. Mansfield ensures we recognize this through the shallowness of her antagonizing characters. Isabel shuns her younger sisters in order to keep the spotlight for herself, taking little joy in the doll’s house itself in comparison to how it earns her friends. Lena attacks Lil Kelvey with gossip, this petty insult providing her and her friends with more energy and adventure than anything else. Aunt Beryl, both to maintain her top-heavy status and to relieve her anxiety about the discovery of her scandal with Willie Brent, chases the two Kelvey children from her yard and goes so far as to shift the term “wicked” to Kezia for inviting them there. They all lack vision, and by extension any desire for change.
Yet it is this vision, this imagination, which is

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