The Doll’s House

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Isabel Burnell Character Analysis

The older sister of Lottie and Kezia, Isabel is bossy and wants to be the first to brag about the doll’s house to the other girls at school. Isabel cares about what others think of her and is careful to seem mysterious and important before she shares the news of the house with the other girls. As the oldest Burnell sister, Isabel gets to choose which of the girls can come see the house, and revels in being the center of attention as the others try to prove their loyalty and friendship in order to be invited.

Isabel Burnell Quotes in The Doll’s House

The The Doll’s House quotes below are all either spoken by Isabel Burnell or refer to Isabel Burnell . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Doll’s House published in 1956.
The Doll’s House Quotes

For, really, the smell of paint coming from that doll's house…was quite enough to make any one seriously ill, in Aunt Beryl's opinion. Even before the sacking was taken off. And when it was….

There stood the doll’s house, a dark, oily, spinach green, picked out with bright yellow. Its two solid little chimneys, glued on to the roof, were painted red and white, and the door, gleaming with yellow varnish, was like a little slab of toffee. Four windows, real windows, were divided into panes by a broad streak of green. There was actually a tiny porch, too, painted yellow, with big lumps of congealed paint hanging along the edge.

But perfect, perfect little house! Who could possibly mind the smell? It was part of the joy, part of the newness.

Related Symbols: The Doll’s House
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:

For it had been arranged that while the doll’s house stood in the courtyard they might ask the girls at school, two at a time, to come and look. Not to stay to tea, of course, or to come traipsing through the house. But just to stand quietly in the courtyard while Isabel pointed out the beauties…

Related Characters: Isabel Burnell
Related Symbols: The Doll’s House
Page Number: 315-316
Explanation and Analysis:

Playtime came and Isabel was surrounded. The girls of her class nearly fought to put their arms round her, to walk away with her, to beam flatteringly, to be her special friend. She held quite a court under the hung pine trees...the only two who stayed outside the ring were the two who were always outside, the Kelveys. They knew better than to come anywhere near the Burnells.

Related Characters: Isabel Burnell , Lil Kelvey, Else Kelvey
Related Symbols: The Doll’s House
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

For the fact was, the school the Burnell children went to was not at all the kind of place their parents would have chosen if there had been any choice. But there was none. It was the only school for miles. And the consequence was all the children in the neighborhood, the Judge’s little girls, the doctor’s daughters, the storekeeper’s children, the milkman’s, were forced to mix together.

Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

But the line had to be drawn somewhere. It was drawn at the Kelveys. Many of the children, including the Burnells, were not allowed even to speak to them…the Kelveys were shunned by everybody.

Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

Emmie Cole started the whisper.

“Lil Kelvey’s going to be a servant when she grows up.”

“O-oh, how awful!” said Isabel Burnell, and she made eyes at Emmie.

Emmie swallowed in a very meaning way and nodded to Isabel as she’d seen her mother do on those occasions.

“It’s true—it’s true—it’s true,” she said.

Related Characters: Isabel Burnell (speaker), Emmie Cole (speaker), Lil Kelvey
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Doll’s House LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Doll’s House PDF

Isabel Burnell Character Timeline in The Doll’s House

The timeline below shows where the character Isabel Burnell appears in The Doll’s House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Doll’s House
Talking vs. Silence Theme Icon
...morning, the Burnell sisters rush to school, excited to tell everyone about the doll’s house. Isabel warns her sisters Lottie and Kezia that she, as the oldest, ought to be first... (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Talking vs. Silence Theme Icon
...school in time to brag about the doll’s house before the bell rings, and instead Isabel tries to make herself seem mysterious and whispers that she has something to tell the... (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Talking vs. Silence Theme Icon
...school. Sometimes a girl will turn and sneer at them, but Lil only smiles back. Isabel, meanwhile, spills all the juicy details of the doll’s house, and Kezia has to remind... (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Talking vs. Silence Theme Icon
...house is all anyone can talk about, and the girls at school kiss up to Isabel in hopes of being invited to see it. At lunch, the girls sit together and... (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Innocence and Cruelty  Theme Icon
Provincialism and Pretense  Theme Icon
Talking vs. Silence Theme Icon
...house, the girls begin gossiping about the Kelveys instead. Emmie Cole starts it, whispering to Isabel that Lil will grow up to be a washerwoman just like her mother. As she... (full context)
Innocence and Cruelty  Theme Icon
...from school and drives them home to greet visitors who have arrived at the house. Isabel and Lottie go to change into fresh pinafores, but Kezia sneaks out to the courtyard... (full context)