Every person has the potential to be a good human being. Katherine Mansfield displays this belief in her story “The Dollhouse”, in which three children receive a dollhouse as a gift. To explain this inner goodness, Mansfield uses the introduction of the dollhouse to the Burnells along with the young girls’ innocence to explain this theme, while also introducing characters that would appear to contradict this belief, but actually reinforce it.
To start off, Mansfield uses the dollhouse as the first symbol of the inner good inside a person. The first impression of the dollhouse that is given is that “the smell of paint was quite enough to make any one seriously ill.” Before the children uncover the dollhouse the smell is noticeable and repulsive, suggesting that before meeting and understanding a person, individuals may make assumptions that can create a negative idea about that person. Directly after, the dollhouse is unveiled and in contrast to the stench, the dollhouse’s beauty is untainted. Decorated with paintings that are “on the walls, painted on the paper, with gold frames complete,” along with “tables, beds with real bedclothes, a cradle, a stove, a dresser with tiny plates and one big jug.” The dollhouse is simply a “perfect, perfect little house.” After the children gaze at the dollhouse, the smell is entirely unimportant and surprisingly referred to as “part of the newness.” Unveiling the dollhouse and meeting a person are similar as a person can “meet” another and be able to see some truth about that person. While the outside of the dollhouse is a sight itself, the inside is simply “too marvelous.” When opening the dollhouse, the children are astounded and question whether this is the way that “God opens h...
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...oodness is the way Aunt Beryl mistreats the Kelveys. She is described with a “cold, furious voice,” and that she looks at the Kelveys “as if they were chickens.” The way Aunt Beryl is described is very contradictory with the way that Kezia is behaving. Aunt Beryl displays no sense of having an inner goodness, while Kezia is beaming with it. Because of Kezia’s upbringing and that she is not becoming like Aunt Beryl, but is making her own good decisions, shows that she is genuinely a good person, despite how she is being taught to act.
Mansfield’s The Dollhouse, displays numerous ways to show that inner goodness lies inside a person, and how it affects other people. With the use of the dollhouse itself and the children that interact with it, and with the people that interact with the children, Mansfield has brilliantly displayed the inner good that lies within people.
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