The angry part of myself therefore does indeed and continues to chafe more than a bit at the ending of The Dolls' House and that Marchpane really does not in any way have to face serious or problematic repercussions, that she basically attains and obtains what she desires, admiration and fame (and while if I think about the ending of The Dolls' House without emotion and with intellectual logic, perhaps this is actually both a suitable and even the right type of an outcome, with the remaining dolls now safe from Marchpane's machinations and jealousy and Marchpane, while indeed well out of the way, also safe, sound and I guess happy), emotionally, I will always consider the fact that the main villain, that the main instigator of the fire tragedy, really does majorly get off with absolutely no serious consequences whatsoever (and receives basically even somewhat of a reward, in my opinion) very much grating, saddening and frustratingly aggravating (two and a half stars, rounded up to a very low three star ranking, as I do appreciate the fact that Rumer Godden's The Dolls' House is a classic and that many of the underlying messages are laudable, positive, even if on an personal level, I really do oh so very adamantly despise the ending).
I was brought up on all her doll books, and loved them. And I love the protagonist, Tottie, (I even named a doll after her when I was small though she, unlike Tottie, wasn't wooden much to my child-self disappointment) she's such a strong lead and rolemodel for a children's book.
I have a thing for living dolls. Now, if I can just find The Great Gatsby with dolls...
Once upon a time I fell in love with a book at a babysitters house. All I knew was that it was peopled by dolls who came to life when people weren't around, and they were a diverse group of dolls, not just all the same. I knew there was a wooden doll and a china doll, a family and moving in and out of a home was part of the story. Remember: All I ever had read was the middle of the book no beginning and no end. (A butler is painted on the wall in the doll house the dolls discuss how it is an unsuccessful attempt at making a doll, but worthy of respect nonetheless.) I didnt know what that word meant, nor once I learned it was the title of a person, had no context for the job, being a kid in limited circumstances. I took the book to a grown-up, who explained what a butler was (it was a hard sell for me, and so stuck out in my mind). I read with anticipation would I find the word butler???. There is a china doll, Marchpane, who thinks she is all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips; and mid-way through the story an actual dolls house is found in a family attic and is from whence the name of the book derives. I remember everything, said Tottie, listening to the music. Everything, from trees to dolls, said Tottie.
Now, perhaps something changes as the story progressed (and I heard the ending is sad--so I skipped ahead and was a bit shocked at what happened, considering it is a kid's book about dolls!) but I thought it was not a good message to send to children; I didn't have a fancy doll house, either, and it would have been very sad indeed to think my dolls were not happy with me, when I loved them so much--that the home I gave them was not enough.
Although the death is that of a doll, this would not detract from the impact as the story itself revolves around the life of a small family of dolls who are owned and loved by two young sisters.
I love the mismatched nature of the dolls that fits so perfectly with how actual children's toys look (something the movie Toy Story captured as well). Tottie's assertion that she's not lesser because she isn't made of porcelain or kid, that great and strong things are made of wood, is a strong theme that makes the ending stronger: (view spoiler)It's Birdie, made of celluloid and the most fragile of the dolls, who has the strength to make the final sacrifice, proving that impermanent materials have a strength of their own.
The Dolls' House is about a group of dolls who all come together and are owned by two little girls, Emily and Charlotte. When Tottie is there, she sees the old doll that she used to live with back when she was owned by the Great-Great Aunt, Marchpane. Somebody figures out that Marchpane belonged to the same old house that Tottie did, so she is sent to live with Emily and Charlotte. The theme is compelling to the "real world" as well as the fantasy world because children can relate to getting new toys and pushing old ones away and then realizing how much they missed their old toys. In the classroom, I would use this book to teach children that every toy or doll they have is special and that just because you get something new, does not mean that you have to forget about your other toys.