The Doll’s House

by

Katherine Mansfield

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The White Gates Symbol Analysis

The White Gates Symbol Icon

The Burnell courtyard has big white gates that separate the street from their private property. The gates are a symbol of the Burnell’s class superiority, physically separating them from poor outsiders. The Burnells gladly let certain visitors like Lena Logan and Emmie Cole enter the courtyard to see the doll’s house. Others, like the Kelveys, are meant to stay outside. When Kezia swings on the gate at the end of the story, she seems to teeter between her family’s ideas of who is acceptable and her own. Kezia wants to invite the Kelveys to see the doll’s house but is forbidden from doing so by her mother. When Kezia swings the gate out to greet the passing Kelveys, she physically crosses the line that society has draw between her and the lower class Kelveys. Kezia demonstrates how a strict boundary can be easily broken with a simple act of kindness. After Aunt Beryl catches Kezia and the Kelveys together in the courtyard, she shoos them away and the Kelveys pass back through the gates, again re-establishing the social order the gates represent.

The White Gates Quotes in The Doll’s House

The The Doll’s House quotes below all refer to the symbol of The White Gates. 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

Isabel and Lottie, who liked visitors, went upstairs to change their pinafores. But Kezia thieved out back. Nobody was about; she began to swing on the big white gates of the courtyard. Presently, looking along the road, she saw two little dots. They grew bigger, they were coming towards her…Now she could see that they were the Kelveys. Kezia stopped swinging. She slipped off the gate as if she was going to run away. Then she hesitated. The Kelveys came nearer, and beside them walked their shadows, very long, stretching right across the road with their heads in the buttercups. Kezia clambered back on the gate; she had made up her mind; she swung out.

Related Characters: Kezia Burnell, Lil Kelvey, Else Kelvey
Related Symbols: The White Gates
Page Number: 319
Explanation and Analysis:

"Off you go immediately!" she called, cold and proud.

They did not need telling twice. Burning with shame, shrinking together, Lil huddling along like her mother, our Else dazed, somehow they crossed the big courtyard and squeezed through the white gate.

Related Characters: Lil Kelvey, Else Kelvey, Aunt Beryl
Related Symbols: The White Gates
Page Number: 320
Explanation and Analysis:
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The White Gates Symbol Timeline in The Doll’s House

The timeline below shows where the symbol The White Gates appears in The Doll’s House. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Doll’s House
Innocence and Cruelty  Theme Icon
...into fresh pinafores, but Kezia sneaks out to the courtyard to swing on its big white gates . (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Innocence and Cruelty  Theme Icon
...distance. As they get closer, she realizes it’s Lil and Else. She jumps off the white gates and considers running off, but changes her mind, jumping back on the gate and swinging... (full context)
Insiders, Outsiders, and Class Theme Icon
Innocence and Cruelty  Theme Icon
Provincialism and Pretense  Theme Icon
...furiously shoos the Kelveys away and slams the dollhouse shut. The Kelveys slip through the white gates and run down the road. (full context)