Language and symbolism

The language employed in the short story “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield is very easy to understand. One reason might be the fact that the story is suitable to be read by children, who must find the story easy to grasp, yet entertaining.

As you have seen, “The Doll’s House” contains narrative and descriptive passages that combine with dialogue. When dialogue is employed, we get to sense the way in which children relate to class division. Lena Logan and the other girls mock Lil because they feel superior.


We also advise you to look at some stylistic and linguistic devices employed by Katherine Mansfield in the short story:


Descriptive language creates imagery in the short story, where it is mostly related to the doll’s house and the way in which the Kelvey sisters look like. For example, the doll’s house is depicted in detail:

All the rooms were papered. There were pictures on the walls, painted on the paper, with gold frames complete. Red carpet covered all the floors except the kitchen;...


Similes and comparisons

Several similes and comparisons help readers better visualise the characters, the setting and the way in which the action develops. Here is a list with the most interesting similes in the story:

  • “…and the door, gleaming with yellow varnish, was like a little slab of toffee.”



The doll’s house is probably the most important symbol in the short story. First, it represents something expensive and created in detail, something that only children from the wealthier class would receive as a present. The doll’s house also symbolises pride and envy, as Isabel prides with it and the other girls from the school envy the Burnells for their luck.


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