Depiction of Characters Dealing with Harsh Reality in Disabled and The Necklace
Between all the varieties of poems and stories which described situations of and sufferings, harshness and lost dreams I decided to focus on how an extract can create a situation of harsh reality for the characters. In many of the texts, I noticed how many of them depicted the harshness of some characters, for example, the poem “Out, Out -” by Robert Frost, I loved manifests how the life of a young man changed into few seconds, which lead to the characters death, demonstrating how anyone could find himself into a harsh reality, which made this a poem a very persuasive choice
Harsh reality is a situation where a person lives in unpleasant or difficult conditions, sometimes caused by mistakes or miscalcalcolated actions made in the past. In the poem “Disabled”, Wilfred Owen depicts the suffering of a person who was injured during the First World War, describing his emotional and physical state; in the short story, “The Necklace”, by Guy de Maupassant, a moral is taught to the reader by showing how unwise decisions or behaviour made by the protagonist lead them to live a harsh, lonely and cruel reality.
In “Disabled”, Wilfred Owen describes the main character throughout the poem to convey to the reader his cruel situation and conditions. Owen decided to never cite the main character’s name, He only uses the personal pronoun “He”, which implies that main character not only lost his limbs, but also his identity and personality. This encourages the reader to feel hopeless towards the poor man and convey his atrocious conditions. Another way this could be interpreted, is that the character doesn’t have a name because he represent all the soldiers in war who had suffered permanent injuries and remained physically or mentally impaired. This would explain why the title of the poem is “Disabled”, maybe Owen wanted not to write about the conditions of a specific person, but to talk about the topic of disability and war, which Wilfred Owen experienced, as he fought in the first World War, suffered a post traumatic stress disorder called shell shock, which lead him to Craiglockhart war hospital to recover, and unfortunately died in battle one week before the end of the war. To emphasise the harshness of the situation and to create a feeling of loneliness of the character, the writer chose to write the poem in third person, using a narrator to describe the settings and the main character feelings. If instead of a narrator there was another character who was describing the situation, he could have helped the main character, which is alone, feeling “cold” and he his forgotten by everyone, proved by the repetition of “why don’t they come” at the end of the last stanza of the poem. As it is a narrator who describes the situation, he is unable to help the main character. The narrator can’t interfere with the story, as he is not part of it. The fact that no one as the capacity to help the poor man who lost his limbs, not the narrator, this makes the reader feel commiseration toward him. Furthermore, Wilfred Owen uses strong adjectives as “ghastly” and “legless” to create a vivid image emphasising how the war damaged the main character in his such horrible way. The writer even uses the simile “like some queer disease” which proves that the injured man is not anymore accepted by the society due to his disability. This is very unexpected for the readers, has they would normally imagine that a soldier who got incapacitated during the war should be helped and treated as a national hero, the soldier themselves would expect to be treated in a grateful way, as during WW1 there were many patriotic propagandas about war which portrayed the soldiers as saviours. In this poem, the opposite is revealed. The noun “disease” implies that the other people have repulsive feelings and are scared when staying near him.
Similarly, at the start of “The Necklace”, Guy de Maupassant also uses a narrator to describe the situation of the main character, Madame Loisel, but, contrasting with “Disabled” where the description his focused with the character physical appearance, in this prose the writer chose to highlight the character’s possessions and her financial state to emphasise on the fact that she was never been able to fulfill her dream of being wealthy and being part of a high class society. The triplet “the peeling walls, the battered chairs, and the ugly curtains” is used to emphasise on Madame Loisel’s feelings towards her house. The list of adjective “peeling”, “battered” and “ugly” implies that her house is not as she wished and it strongly distress her, which is proved by the quote “(referring to the her house) was torture to her and made her very angry”. The noun “torture” is an hyperbole which cannotates how essential for her is to be wealthy and how much she now feels “unhappy” about it. Her feelings of boredom and sadness contrasts with the end of the story where Madame Loisel and her husband have to pay heavy debts and they become part of the lower social class. The quote “She became used to heavy domestic work and all kinds of ghastly kitchen chores.” And “her hair was untidy, her skirts were askew and her hands were red” Describe how the debts of Madame loisel and her husband changed drastically their lifestyle. The adjective “ghastly” has very strong consonants which help the reader to understand the amount of effort and work she had to put has consequence of her mistake of losing the necklace. Furthermore the noun phrase “heavy domestic work” Suggests to the reader that, compared to now, in the start of the prose Madame Loisel’s conditions were not part of a harsh reality, even if she was strongly unsatisfied because “She dressed simply” or “she had … no jewelry”. Now her condition became much worse and she learns how is to be in a really low economic status
Maupassant use this contrast to create a moral of the story, which is to no be always unsatisfied of what you own because life could change from one to another and you could find yourself into a totally different condition.In Wilfred Owen’s poem, the writer created a juxtaposition between the past and present, using a time distortions to explain the reader the mistake that lead him into his condition. The quote “In the old times, before he threw away his knees” is the start of an anecdote, describing the life of the protagonist before he went to war. The “old times”, is a typical English expression, which creates a contrast between the harshness of the current situation and the joy and happiness of the past. Owen successfully uses the metaphor “threw away his knees” to convey to the reader the idea that the protagonist is regretful about not having his legs anymore, which implies that if he hadn’t chosen to join the army, he could still be in an healthy condition and able to walk. In addition, the quote is phrased to place the noun “knees” before a full stop, to emphasise the key final word. In my opinion the poet wanted to express the preciousness of life and the terrible injuries which resulted from “modern” warfare such as that seen in the First World War. To describe the protagonist’s emotions, Owen cleverly chose to make the noun “knees” rhyme with the noun “disease” at the end of the second stanza to highlight the protagonist’s feelings of nostalgia towards his ephemeral youth and the fact that it was not his fault that he has returned looking like an abomination.
A Specific Style Of Writing in The Necklace Novel
A tale of class, gender, greed and pride, ‘The Necklace’ packs a punch. The ending achieves a profound impact on the reader,though it is the compounding of tensions throughout the story which allows it to do so.This essay will explore the linguistic and structural devices used by Maupassant to create such effective tension in his writing.
The story begins with a description of Madame Loisel, thoughsuspense is maintained by not revealing her name to the reader until after the initial descriptive passage.It is clear from the outset that she is severely deluded; she feels that she is entitled to far more than she currently has, without any reasonable justification. She is described as ‘unhappy all the time’ due to the lack of luxury in her life of ‘peeling walls’, ‘battered chairs’ and ‘ugly curtains’, though she is by no means poor – she has a servant! What follows is an extremely detailed fantasy of her ideal life, involving ‘oriental tapestries’, ‘bronze candelabras’, ‘two tall footmen…dozing’, and even branching into the surreal with ‘mythical characters and strange birds in enchanted forests’ being depicted in the tapestries.This level of obscurity and specificity is somewhat unsettling to the reader; her delusion appears to be verging on pathological when one considers the time, effort and conviction needed to create fantasy lands of this sort. Contrasted with the depiction of her relatively simple life,there is such disparity between Madame Loisel’s reality and her wild, unrestrained fantasies that the reader is left pitying – at least to some degree – for the troubled protagonist.She is making her life a misery, and many readers must feel an urge to jump in and help her, as well as a level of anxiety about how her life will pan out in the story.
It is likely that these details were chosen with care and intention by Maupassant and help to highlight other elements of Madame Loisel’s character. In fact,these details appear to reveal a world deeply flawed by its superficiality.The antechambers are ‘silent’: nobody is there to appreciate them, and the footmen are ‘dozing’:they are ornamental rather than functional. The ‘oriental tapestries’ described are in direct contrast to the ‘peeling walls’ she experiences in her real life, and it is worth noting that tapestries are literally superficial: they hide the wall behind them, though the walls are the actual substance of the house.She imagines ‘pretty little parlours’ exclusively for talking with her closest friends, the ‘most famous and sought-after men of the day’.The way in which she imagines her ideal company is very telling of her personality flaws.The fact that her friends would all be men ‘desired by all women’demonstrates her desire not only to attract interest from many males but to be a source of envy for other women. At the time when this story was set, women, as previously mentioned by the narrative voice, ‘[had] neither rank nor class’, so it is unavoidable that sexual attraction would have played a large part in these men’s interest in Madame Loisel. It seems as though she would deliberatelyexclude other women so that she does not have to share these men’s attention and other women remain yearning for her position. That does not appear to be something Madame Loisel would benefit from aiming for.
Clearly, the story is told by an omniscient, third-person narrator, though appears to shift between sympathy and criticism of Madame Loisel, even at times taking the guise of her own thoughts. This adds an intriguing depth to the process of reading the story, as the reader is left to make sense of a narrator they cannot quite pin down, and question the implications of its subjectivity or objectivity. For instance, Madame Loisel’s birth to a minor civil servant is described as having happened ‘apparently by some error of Fate’. The use of a disclaimer such as ‘apparently’ contradicts the idea of the narrator being omniscient, as it shows that the judgement was made based on evidence rather than objective knowledge. This fallibility gives a more personal feel to the narration of the story – a sense that there is a specific person behind it. The reader’s awareness of a personality but the absence of an identity results in a degree of unsettlement. Alternatively, this statement could be a lapse into Madame Loisel’s opinion, providing the first example of her tendency to blame her problems on anything and anyone but herself.
The description of Madame Loisel’s dreams of dinners appear to reveal a more sinister superficiality than anything alluded to before. In her dreams, a place previously proven to have very few limitations, people exchange nothing more heartfelt over dinner than ‘pretty compliments whispered into willing ears’. In this world, compliments must lose their meaning. Rather than bringing a welcome surprise and genuine uplift, they are given out of pressure and received expectantlyand are used as evidence against self-doubt. While this is not disastrous and is bound to occur in reality, it is far from the utopian conversations one would expect to come from a mind which jumps from a life of ‘peeling walls’ to fantasies of ‘tapestries…with mythical characters and strange birds in enchanted forests’. The fact that there is no mention of actually being appreciated and valued – just being told so suffices–demonstrates Madame Loisel’s satisfaction with superficiality. However, the reader isimmediately given a somewhat disturbing glimpse of the dangers of this mentality: the people sat around the table return ‘Sphinx-like smiles’. The reference to the Sphinx suggests a masking of the true self and carries connotations of deception, treachery and mercilessness; for the closest reader, the story has already been set up as Madame Loisel’s downfall –is superficiality her hamartia? Perhaps it has becomeclichéd with time, but,‘She would have given anything…’, seems to be a definite nod to readers experienced in stories of the fairy-taleformat. When this phrase is used, the protagonist can be expected to have their wish granted, but at a great cost. By now, the reader feels at least some anxiety for Madame Loisel’s future.
Adding to the sense that Madame Loisel’sinsatiable desire for an impossibly luxurious life will lead to great problems in her future is the lack of harmony – or even any effective communication – between her and her husband. As the reader is being led through the convoluted sentences winding throughMadame Loisel’s fantasies, they are abruptly brought back into the real world as the Loisels sit down for dinner. Monsieur Loisel’s enthusiasm for the joys in his own life, claiming that ‘there’s nothing [he] likes better than a nice stew’, could not be much more painfully opposite to his wife’s total dissatisfaction with what she has (including her husband, whose proposal she ‘went along with’). The use of stilted and slightly repetitive conversation between the two of them after he brings home the invitation conveys the same frustration to the reader as is felt by characters. Monsieur Loisel tries as hard as he can to please his wife with what he has, with desperation viewed impatiently by Madame Loisel – and potentially the reader, at times – as naivety. Although he perhaps does not manage it as well as possible, Madame Loisel’s greed is difficult for any partner to handle when money is limited. She is revealed in this dialogue to be extremely manipulative, intentionally and carefully controlling what she demands from her husband in order to negotiate a solution that most satisfies her selfish desires. First, she dismisses the invitation as being of no ‘earthly use’ to her, though she avoids mentioning the indulgent reason why she feels that way until prompted by a pleading Monsieur Loisel. As an aside, it is worth noting his use of the word ‘dickens’, a euphemism for the devil, to describe his efforts to get hold of an invite; perhaps only noticeable to the returning reader, this seems to be a reference to the way her visit to the party marks the last event before the start of her downfall. However, if the reader does notice this first-time, the subtle use of a word with sinister connotations contributes to the growing sense of a lurking evil force. After her husband has given her the best reasons he can for going to the reception, Madame Loisel explains her distress to him ‘irritably’, as if she is trying to make her husband feel apologetic for not realising her rather obscure concern. Monsieur Loisel ‘blustered’ and ‘stammered’, which she lets him do so that he becomes as desperate to console her as possible. The reader is left wondering if Madame Loisel’s tears are genuine; although she is deeply unhappy and ashamed of her lack of wealth, she ‘control[s] her sorrows’ and ‘calmly’ begins to negotiate more seriously. First, she makes a passive-aggressive comment that his colleagues have wives ‘better off for clothes than [she is]’, before ‘working out her sums’ and seeing how far she can push the budget for her dress. She proposes this amount of four hundred francs to her husband, claiming that it is what she ‘daresay’ she could ‘get by on’ – she is clearly looking for something more luxurious than what she could get by on. Interestingly, despite havingtried his hardest to honour her stroppy complaints, Monsieur Loisel demonstrates self-interest for the first time when it is revealed that he had been saving the money to go on a hunting trip with ‘a few friends’ (not including Madame Loisel) and shoot larks (a symbol of their dying love?).Not only do the Loisels struggle to understand and communicate with each other, but they also have conflicting interests in some areas. Once Madame Loisel has been granted the dress she wanted, she rests for a few days before beginning new pleas. Again, she does not tell her husband upfront about the issue, but acts strangely and waits for him to enquire. This establishes a dynamic of him being the one pleading rather than her. That way, it appears to be less of a tantrum. As before, Monsieur Loisel simply does not know what to suggest. He has not got the money to pay for fine jewellery, so he suggests a ten-franc posy.As Madame Loisel puts it, that would be ‘humiliating’.All in all, the relationship between her and her husband is a rather uncomfortable one for both the Loisels and the reader.In a society where women achieve what they want by marrying, it seems that Madame Loisel is hoping for a better option than her current husband. However, she is quite happy to manipulate him for his money, playing on his desire to please her.
The two times when Madame Loisel actually follows her husband’s advice both end up being turning points in her life.First, he suggests that she seeMadame Forestier and ask to borrow some jewellery.This necklace causes them great problems in their life. Then, after they lose the necklace, Madame Loisel writes ‘to his dictation’. This letter, which allows the Loisels to hide from the truth and hope that the situation sort itself out in the extra time it had bought them, is in a way the worst decision ever made by Madame Loisel. Had she told her friend the truth of what had happened, she would have been told of its low value and could buy another easily. The effect of the letter is not immediately described, resulting in a hanging lack of resolution.
When Madame Loisel visits Madame Forestier, she cannot contain joy when she catches sight of one particular ‘magnificent diamond’ necklace. She feels ‘immoderate desire’ for the necklace and looks at herself in the mirror ‘in rapture’ as she tries it on. These powerful emotions are usually reserved for people (or even Christ, in the case of ‘rapture’), yet she feels them for material possessions. One has to wonder if this sort of desire is healthy.Ironically, the necklace is mere costume jewellery; first she was beguiled by the luxurious ‘black satinwood case’, then by the necklace itself. She longs for expensive possessions, but perhaps she is not ready, or will never be ready, for the life she wishes for. She is unable to tell a piece of costume jewellery from a genuine diamond specimen eighty times its value and her hands shake as she picks up what seems to be a diamond necklace. Additionally, the necklace may represent an objective correlative with Madame Loisel. She is pretty herself, and has a few possessions seemingly above her own level of wealth (the satinwood case), though at heart is not an excessively wealthy individual. Despite what she thinks, she is too materialistically obsessed to deal graciously with a wealthy life. It has previously been alluded to that Sphinxes and devils lie beneath the superficially associated with Madame Loisel, so the fact that Madame Loisel’s strongest feelings of passion are evoked by nothing more than how something looks creates suspense in the reader – even if they do not know how disastrous this beguilement will turn out to be –who suspects that she has been deceived by someone or something.
The party arrives, and Madame Loisel soars – it was a ‘glorious success’. However, as soon as she gets her coat and leaves, there is sharp change in tone. The coat is described as ‘violently at odds with the elegance of her dress’, which appears to be her own opinion bleeding into the narrative voice. She is ‘brought…down to earth’ and is acutely aware of the shortcomings in her life when compared to the bliss and ‘utter triumph’ of the party. She realises that she cannot fully fake being wealthy; the truly wealthy women are ‘arrayed in rich furs’ – they have no inconsistencies. Within two paragraphs and what must be minutes, Madame Loisel goes from waltzing to running quickly down the stairs, hailing cabs and ‘shivering with cold’ in ‘desperation’. This creates an immense sense of foreboding, as it seems as though the whole world around Madame Loisel has changed. Additionally, building on the tension between her pretence and her real life, another objective correlative is used by describing how the cabs are ‘ashamed to parade their poverty in the full light of day’.
Once they realise that the necklace has been lost and they will not be able to find it, a few bad decisions propel the Loisels into ‘grim poverty’. The reader observes Monsieur Loisel sign away his financial freedom, resulting in great frustration and pity. To the returning reader, the irony in the fact that Madame Loisel ‘feared’ that her friend would open the box; if she had, she may have noticed that the necklace was real diamond!
Once the reader reaches the end of the story, the emotions felt concerning Madame Loisel are powerful and complex. Even the most casual of readers will inevitably be torn between pity and scorn for an unconventionally uncharismatic protagonist. Not only is tension maintained throughout the story, but tensions about the story linger in the reader’s mind even once they have finished reading. Is she a good person? Did she deserve her downfall? Did her experience with poverty make her a better person? Should she have been honest about the necklace?
Undoubtedly, Madame Loisel has some undesirable attributes. She has an unfounded sense of superiority, feeling ‘intended for a life of refinement and luxury’, blamingher situation on Fate rather than herselfand feeling frustrated with her husband who does not share the same impossible fantasies. She is extremely self-centred, wishing not only to live the finest life possible, but to have it to herself; she wishes to be ‘envied’. While this may be fair enough – many people wish for fame, and what is fame without other people’s envy? –Madame Loisel’s current experience of envy is far from normal; she weeps ‘tears of sorrow, regret, despair and anguish’ ‘for days on end’ after just speaking to a wealthy friend whose life she most desperately longs for.The implication of her desire to be a source ofenvy is that she does not mind evoking – or even actively wants to evoke –these terrible emotions in others. She is greedy, demanding as much from her husband as possible and having an unreasonable lust for material possessions.But perhaps her worst attribute is her attitude towards superficiality. She does not care about people beyond the compliments they give her, and at times appears more concerned about looking rich than actually being rich.
However, the difficulties of society at the time must be kept in mind. Women had ‘neither rank nor class’ and ‘natural guile, instinctive elegance and adaptability’ determine their place in society. Madame Loisel could only gain wealth through marriage – she would never be able to earn much money by working herself –so she had no choice but to hope for a rich and understanding man. If the only way to achieve what she wants is to hope, she may as well dream big. Perhaps her dissatisfaction with her life stems from the anxiety concerning her inability to alter her future through her own work. Sadly, women were not considered to bring much more value than their social interactions and appearance, so perhaps she could be forgiven for being so fixated on superficial values. Although obnoxious when stated plainly, Madame Loisel’s sense that she is intended for a luxurious life isto some extent within everyone; everyone thinks that they are in some way special ***ELABORATE***. However, Madame Loisel does not go out of her way to impose her views upon other people – the primary person her delusions affect is herself; she is made ‘unhappy all the time’ by her mundane life. There is certainly much to pity her for, though equally her character has some unpleasant sides to it. The verdict on her character is one which is likely to demand some thought and continue to be shaped upon re-reading.
The story has a clear moral concerning honesty: not being upfront about an issue makes it much harder to dig one’s way out of. Perhaps the one of the most common thoughtsupon finishing the story is: why didn’t Madame Loisel just tell the truth?The answer: she was too proud.
Although the debt caused by the incident with the necklace leaves the Loisels in a dire financial situation, there is an argument that it ultimately benefited Madame Loisel, teaching her vital lessons about life and money. Through hardship, Madame Loisel learns to appreciate the meaning of work and the value of money. A work ethic and unprecedented morality emerges in her – ‘she was determined to pay’ and upon meeting Madame Forestier ten years later she feels genuine pride of her work. She experiences for the first time true ownership of her money and smiles a ‘proud, innocent smile’ – in direct contrast to the ‘Sphinx-like smiles’ she dreamed of previously. One could imagine that at this point she realises that, for all these years of believing she was destined to refinement and luxury, she did not really have anything to be proud of. Now that she looks like ‘any working-class woman’externally, she must understand the appreciation of people on a deeper level, for what they truly are. At the beginning of the story, it is described that she used to weep for days on end after speaking to Madame Forestier, though this learnt sense of class conflict has been apparently eradicated from Madame Loisel now; she approaches Forestier thinking ‘why not?’. Additionally, the Loisels seem to become a far more harmonious couple from the moment that she realises she has lost the necklace. ‘They’ are referred to using that collective pronoun, rather than individually as ‘he’ and ‘she’. They communicate effectively to decide on an – albeit mistaken–course of action, and work together to pay back the debt. There are no more passive-aggressive comments, nor fumbling, desperate yet unsuccessful attempts from Monsieur Loisel to please his wife. Perhaps the way in which such harsh living improved Madame Loisel as a person is the most troubling takeaway the reader gets from the book, and one they may ponder protractedly. More generally, is adversity needed to round people as individuals?
Maupassant’s story is deeply moving. It takes the reader on a journey, acquainting them with a tragic character and leaving them pondering her downfall, all the while locking in their focus with brilliantly crafted tension.
***Extra tension: reader left to introspect; they know Loisel is bad but understand that they have their own sense of superiority as well.
Description Of Madame Loisel in The Necklace
Character Analysis of Madame Loisel in “The Necklace”
Ever had a time where a lot of used time and hard work turned out be utterly useless? The same situation happened to Madame Loisel in “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. The story is about a woman who longed for a rich, luxurious life but lives a lesser and impecunious life. Madame Loisel and her husband are invited to a party by the Minister of Education but there is a complication. She does not have a dress to wear nor any jewels to wear. After buying a dress, she visits her friend, Madame Forestier, to ask if she can lend her something to wear. Loisel finds a necklaces that she adores but loses the necklace after the party and panics. They cannot find the necklace anywhere so they decide to replace the diamonds in it, while borrowing money and accumulating massive debt of which they must endure hard labor to pay off. Madame Loisel returns the new necklace and meets Forestier ten years later, only to find that the original necklace was an imitation and costs significantly less than what it took to pay for the replacement. After reading “The Necklace”, one can infer that Madame Loisel is insecure about her appearance, desperate to replace the necklace, and depressed about her life.
There are many examples throughout the story that can provide evidence that Madame Loisel is insecure about her appearance. For example, the story states, “She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them” (1). The quote from “The Necklace” supports the claim that Loisel is insecure about her appearance as it explains that she has nothing to wear. Therefore, Madame Loisel feels as if she must have them because she does not have any clothes or jewels. Those were the only things she has loved, so one can assume that she loves them because they will make her appear more attractive to others and that she does not have anything attractive to wear. One can say that Loisel is insecure about her appearance because she feels that wearing attractive things will also make her attractive. Another example from the story when the author writes, “She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after” (1). Again, the quote means that Madame Loisel desires to be more attractive and charming than she already is because she feels that she is not attractive, otherwise she would not want to look more attractive.
In addition, this is seen once more in the story when the story states, “ ‘I’m utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone to wear,’ she replied. ‘I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party” (2). Loisel says this after she has bought a dress but does not have any accessories to wear. She says that if she does not have anything else to wear, she will “look absolutely no one” (2) and “would almost rather not go to the party” (2). Madame Loisel says the quote because having no jewels will make her appear unattractive and look like no one. She is thinking that she is unattractive, so therefore, she is not confident in her appearance and is insecure.
In the story, there are numerous examples that support the claim that Madame Loisel is desperate to replace the necklace. One example is seen when her husband says to her the instructions that she follows, “You must write to your friend,” “and tell her that you’ve broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. This will give us time to look about us” (5). The quote explains that Loisel is desperate enough to find the necklace that she would lie to her friend to allow them more time to find it. Furthermore, the story states, “Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father” (5). In order to replace the diamonds in the necklace, she and her husband are desperate enough to use the money that was left to him by his father. Trying to work to repay the debt, both of them had to live a poorer life and have hard labor. The author writes, “And this life lasted ten years” (6). The both of them are desperate enough to live a life of hard labor for ten years to repay the debt.
Madame Loisel’s actions in the beginning of “The Necklace” can support the claim that she is depressed about her life. An example from the quote that supports the claim is when the author writes, “She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains” (1). Loisel can be shown as depressed when the author writes this because she is suffering from not having all the luxurious items that she could have. Also, the story states, “All these things, of which other women in her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her” (1). Again, not having the luxurious items that she longs for is making her suffer, and feeling more depressed about her poorer life. Another example would be when the author writes, “She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery” (1). Since weeping is a sign of sadness, and that Loisel would weep whole days because she does not have the luxurious life she desires, one can say that she is depressed as she is repeating an action that shows sadness.
Madame Loisel in “The Necklace” can be described as insecure about her appearance, desperate to replace the necklace she had lost, and is depressed about her life that she wants to change. She is insecure so she buys a dress and borrows a necklace and longs for a more luxurious life. Also, she is desperate enough to replace the necklace that she will live a poorer life of hard labor, to lie to her friend, and to use money that her husband’s father gave to him. Loisel is depressed, which is seen when she feels that she is suffering that she does not have luxurious items, she is tormented and insulted by them, and when she would weep for whole days. In conclusion, Madame Loisel is an insecure, desperate, and depressed woman whose life has changed after borrowing a necklace from her friend.
The Importance of the Class of an Individual in The Necklace, a Short Story by Guy de Maupassant
Literary Analysis – “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
In the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, the class a person is born into is everything. The class you hold controls your life, your actions, and even your career. In this story, a beautiful woman named Mathilde Loisel is born into a class lower than she desired. Mathilde Loisel believes that she was created to hold nothing other than the finest of all things. Mathilde is in love with the luxurious things, like sparkling jewels, the finest and softest gowns made of the most expensive materials, beautiful tapestries, elegant meals, soft sheets and curtains of rich color, being an object of beauty, and being desired by men all around. One could say that Mathilde is a spoiled woman, but she is not, for she has never possessed anything above what a person from her low class should. Mathilde could be described as extravagant because of her evident delicacy in her mind, though she is mostly miserable and yearning, for she wishes with all of her heart to live with the women of the richest class.
Mathilde Loisel was born into a poor family in one of the lowest classes. Mathilde looked up to the higher and richer classes with such longing and desire that a person might think it was a lifestyle that she once held. Her craving for luxury shows many a time throughout the short story, for she does hold extravagance within her. This extravagance she holds is first seen on the first page when she sees what she thinks would be charming in her dining room, “When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with at three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, … she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.” Her extravagance is shown again on the third page when she succeeds incredibly at the party, “The day of the party arrived.
Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The minister noticed her.” She was ethereal, and every patron of the party was eager to meet her, for they thought her of rich class. A final example from the story that shows Mathildes extravagance is when she finds herself overjoyed at the success of her appearance on page three, “She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart.” Mathilde had held the gaze of everyone throughout the party and was so very proud.
Mathilde felt glorious after the event, but her grandness faded quickly, and her mind returned to its wretched state. The state in which it remained for the rest of her years, and the years before her glorious party. Her misery is shown plenty of times throughout the story. The first instance of her anguish is on page one when her sadness and her reason for it are described, “She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.” Another instance of her agony is shown when Mathilde has trouble finding confidence to attend the party, as shown on page three, “No…there’s nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women.” She didn’t have faith that she would look as fine as she so desired. Mathilde couldn’t even visit her friends of high caste because her despair would grow too overpowering. This is shown also on page one, “She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.”
Mathilde was miserable, and despised her life and the circumstances in which she was placed, but all of this agony had a reason. The reason was her yearning for the riches she saw so many women with. She found herself imagining a life with treasures and substance that she could only dream of, and she found herself wishing that she could live like her friend did. Her yearning and lust for fine things is shown an abundance of times throughout the story. For example, on page one, it is told how Mathilde reacts to her poor lifestyle, “The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast salons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, performed rooms, created just for little pirates of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman’s envious longings.” Another example of her yearning for high-class life is again on page one when specific things that the woman desires are described, “She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.” Mathilde wishes so dearly to hold these possessions and show her style and refinement to all others who can see her. A final example of her yearning and desire is on page two when Mathilde describes her despair to her husband,
“‘I’m utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear,’ she replied. ‘I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party.’”
In conclusion, Mathilde could be described as extravagant because of her evident delicacy in her mind, though she is mostly miserable and yearning, for she wishes with all of her heart to live with the women of the richest class. She is elegant in her mind and with her taste, but she is poor in her harsh reality and lives every day with rigid desire to live a life of riches and delicacies. Though she is loved dearly by her friend, family, and her husband, she is miserable and in constant despair.
Analysis Of “The Necklace” By Guy De Maupassant
“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant tells the story of an unsatisfied middle-class woman whose dreams of luxury end up in disaster. Mathilde Loisel is what some may call a desperate house wife, she stays in the house all with nothing to do. To escape this boredom, she day dreams about what her life would be like if she was rich living in a mansion surrounded by glamourous things and people. The different settings of this story developed the growth of the main character Mathilde. This is also true for the narrator in “Blue Winds Dancing”, but instead of living in a day dream, this narrator can find out who he is and is supposed to be by going home to his family. The narrator goes off to college to receive a huge culture shock only to realize that he belongs with his people in Wisconsin. As each setting is mentioned in both “Blue Winds Dancing” and in “The Necklace”, the main characters experience mental growth, and they realize the realities of their lives.
The setting of “The Necklace” starts off the Loisel’s small apartment on Martyrs Street. This is where Mathilde day dreams about what life could be. She spends most of her days complaining about how “drab” her apartment is. She describes how the furniture is “threadbare” and how “ugly” her curtains are just some of what she complains about. She has a maid that helps clean around the apartment but instead of being appreciative of this, she wants for more servants to go along with her huge “day dream mansion”. She describes her daydream service:
She imagined a gourmet-prepared main course carried on the most exquisite trays and served on the most beautiful dishes, with whispered gallantries that she would hear with a sphinxlike smile as she dined on the pink meat of a trout or the delicate wing of a quail.
Everything about her life makes her unhappy from the beef stew that her husband bought for dinner to her nice theatre dress, that she feels is only to be worn around the poor and isn’t elegant enough to be seen by the rich. Her reaction to all the details of her apartment show Mathilde as not having a true grasp on her reality and how badly she has adjusted to her life. She soon realized that her desperation to be glamourous will bring about her undoing.
Mathilde is invited to attend the Minster of Education’s party, which will be filled with many fancy and rich people, and in order to fit in she uses up her husband’s savings to find a dress and borrows a necklace from her rich friend. The necklace appears to be nice and full of diamonds but it’s just as fake as the daydreams Mathilde has of being a high-class citizen. She isn’t aware of this and end up losing the necklace and is forced to find the money to buy a replacement. In doing so, she loses her apartment and reality then being to punch her in the face. She soon is forced to move to an attic flat where she is working hard to pay for the necklace. I believe this changed of setting humbled Mathilde. There is no more complaining about how miserable her life was, the daydreaming of a luxurious life stopped, and she knew the definition of hard work. It took her 10 years but she finally got over her fantasy life and took a step into reality.
The last setting of “The Necklace” takes place on the streets of the Champs-Elysees, she runs into her rich friend and finally has the courage to talk to her. Mathilde has come to terms with her life after the necklace and confronts her friend about the whole situation. This shows her growth from each setting, and her coming to terms with her reality is realized when she runs into her friend.
For the narrator in “Blue Winds Dancing”, there is a totally different experience. The first setting described in this story is his home in Wisconsin. Its described as this beautiful place where everyone is friendly. The narrator feels very at ease when they at in their hometown. Its only until he moves to California for college that he begins to question who he is. While in California, he notices the amount of white people. This is a culture shock for him because he is a Native American man, who up until college, had only been around other Native American people. He gets a lot of anxiety about not fitting in or not being smart enough to be around these new people. He starts to question if he is a true American or if he even belongs in a college.
He understands the cultural difference between him and the white people. This makes him feel inferior because of how his education experience is from theirs.
But we are inferior. It is terrible to have to feel inferior; to have to read reports of intelligence tests, and learn that one’s race is behind. It is terrible to sit in class and hear men tell you that your people worship sticks of wood—that your gods are all false, that the Manitou forgot your people and did not write them a book.
Yet as the setting goes back to his hometown, he realizes that he does not belong amongst the white civilians. The narrator feels that when he goes home, people will behave differently around him because he has strayed from their civilization for so long. But that is not the case at all, he is welcomed back with open arms and realizes that where he truly belongs is right there with his people. The narrator goes from the setting of white people where he feels confused about who he is as a person and where he belongs in the world; but as he returns home to Wisconsin he realizes that he is Native American at heart and always will be. His struggles in white civilization resulted in a greater appreciation for Native American society and a sure realization that he is a true Native American. At the end of the story he is happy and content having found his identity and describes himself as finally being home.
The characters from both short stories experience hardships when trying to realize who they are and their realities. As each setting is progressively mentioned in “The Necklace”, it can be connected to the Mathilde Loisel’ character change and grasp on reality; she is unhappy in the drab apartment, she must work hard in the attic flat, and feels at peace with all that has happened while she is walking along the Champs-Elysees. As for “Blue Winds Dancing” the narrator comes to find out who he truly is by leaving one setting for another then return to where he originally started off, his true home.
Greed and loss in The Necklace and Disabled
Greed and Loss are dominant themes in both Disabled and The Necklace. Both writers explore these themes in different ways, but their pieces ultimately imply that greed is bound to result in a loss. Both writers also emphasize on the elusive nature of fame and riches which both main characters fall for. The war appeared magnificent to the soldier in Disabled but it was actually a damaging death plagued battle with no riches or glory to hope for. Likewise, Mathilde in The Necklace thought the necklace was diamond and after draining the life of all her youth, she finds that it was fake. The quest to fulfill superficial desires and its inevitable consequences are at the core of both pieces.
Both the main characters in the pieces experience loss and are both ruined, one physically and one financially – and perhaps both mentally. They both start out with a desire for something superficial and not needed, which ultimately leads to them both ironically losing out.
The writer of The Necklace, Guy de Maupassant, was born in 1850, in Dieppe, France. He lived with his mother after she was disgraced and ostracised by all those who knew her, for the one reason that she left her husband. Known largely for his skill of executing denouements effortlessly, de Maupassant has often been referred to as a protege of Gustave Flaubert, also an 18thCentury French writer. He was a very secluded person, and he had a personal loathing of society. Perhaps this was a motive for his writings that occasionally villainized modern society and characterized it as superficial and corrupt. The Necklace is a direct critique of society’s fascination with glamour and jewels, and the common desire for the superficial.
Both the boy in Disabled and Madame Loisel in The Necklace are not content with what they have, even though they are both very privileged. De Maupassant explains in The Necklace: “She was unhappy all the time…” Although Mathilde lives a perfectly acceptable life with maids and food on her table, she is not content with her lifestyle – the unhappiness she exhibits is because of her greed. To accentuate this, De Maupassant uses the words ‘she dreamed’ on a number of occasions: “She dreamed of exquisite dishes served on fabulous china plates.” To draw the reader’s attention to Mathilde’s unhappiness, many emotive words are used. De Maupassant writes: “Sometimes, for days on end, she would weep tears of sorrow, regret, despair, and anguish.” Although some would argue that this makes us feel compassion towards her, it also makes her seem spoilt. She is characterized like a little girl who is having a tantrum when she doesn’t get what she wants, highlighting her predominant characteristic as greedy.
Wilfred Owen, who was born in 1893, is one of the leading First World War poets. He served in the Manchester Regiment after he enlisted at the age of 22. He is best known for his shocking accounts of the trenches, gas and the deaths of his fellow soldiers. His most proclaimed poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, explains the results of cowardice. Perhaps Owen believes that those who sacrificed nothing are cowards and that soldiers like the ones in his poem Disabled are the real heroes of the war.
In Owen’s poem Disabled the soldier is also made to seem childlike, for quite similar reasons. He is not content with being the hero on the sports field, and nor is he content with the attention he gets from girls. He must have more glory, and he must impress those around him. Owen writes: “That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg…” Just as Mathilde wants to look like a goddess in a ball gown, the young boy imagines himself as a god in a kilt. This characteristic is somewhat childish because he wants to be the ‘cool kid’ that everybody respects. It is selfishness and the quest for self-glorification that motivate the soldier to join the army, rather than a sense of duty to his country. He wants glory for selfish reasons so that he can show off. The poem reads: “Germans he scarcely thought of… he thought of jeweled hilts for daggers in plaid socks.” In reality, he doesn’t care about his country, but only about himself. He takes pride in going off to join the army, but then finds that his hopes are not wholly fulfilled when he returns home: “Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer a goal.” People no longer show him the care nor the respect that he wants to be shown, and they no longer celebrate his actions as they used to, which is a somewhat ironic outcome.
Another prominent reason that the soldier in Owen’s poem joined the army was for the sexual attention he expected he would receive for it. However, ironically, the consequence of him going to war means that his now broken body will no longer enjoy the female attention or ‘their slim waists’ only to be replaced by the memory of blood spurting from his thigh, which could, in fact, be a metaphor for male ejaculation.
Mathilde also exhibits a lot of pride in herself throughout de Maupassant’s short story. She has her moment of glory when she is at the party: “She danced ecstatically, wildly, intoxicated with pleasure…” She has reached ecstasy when she finally has what she wants. But as we see soon after, ‘pride goeth before destruction…’ Her delight is not only transient but, as the final twist reveals, illusionary.
Self-obsession is a predominant factor in the loss that both of the characters experience. Mathilde loses ten years of her life which she spends working to repay debts she owes – her body wastes away and she loses her youth. Her self-obsession is clear from the outset of the story, as de Maupassant writes: “She was one of those pretty, delightful girls…” and almost immediately it seems as if she is talking about herself. She thinks she is better than her own lifestyle, and that she deserves more. This arrogance makes us show less sympathy for Mathilde, as it encourages us to take the view that she deserved to lose what she had. De Maupassant emphasizes this by adding the contrast of her husband’s contentment when he exclaims: “’Ah! Stew! Splendid’”. De Maupassant deploys this contrast to emphasize that it is greed and self-obsession that drive Mathilde. This same self-obsession is also seen in Disabled. The soldier is now old; his youth consumed by the war that he thought would make him even more attractive. He is obsessed with himself, and loves being shown off: “After the matches, carried shoulder high.” Both the characters love showing off and clearly think very highly of themselves. They both exhibit greed for attention. The arrogance that they demonstrate makes us less sympathetic towards their characters in their sufferings.
The desire for the past that has been lost is shown in Disabled by Owen’s repetitive use of references to the past to show that it is all the unknown boy thinks about. Owen writes: “In the old times…” and multiple paragraphs are written in the perfect tense to reinforce the desire of the soldier for what used to be.
In 48 different countries, there are tombs that represent the ‘unknown soldier’. The remains that have been interred there commemorate the death of all those who died in the war. Perhaps Owen’s reluctance to say the name of the soldier mentioned in the poem, thus making him an ‘unknown soldier’, is a hint that nobody really cares about him – he is just one of the many who fought in the war. Perhaps he hopes to imply that nobody cares about what he wants, or what he has lost – or even his regrets. This is somewhat ironic because that is all he really wanted.
The soldier has sacrificed everything. He used to have four limbs, all the glory on the football pitch he could possibly want, and attention for his attractiveness: “There was an artist silly for his face,” But now that he has sacrificed everything, he has nothing to give, and nobody cares for him: “Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes passed from him…” We feel sympathy for him because he clearly regrets the naive choices he made when he was younger. We feel a lot more sympathy for the soldier in Disabled than we do for Mathilde because, although he showed ignorance in his youth, he was motivated by a naivety rather than pure greed, which is a much less desirable trait.
Once Mathilde realizes that she has wasted ten years of her life and all the family’s money, she experiences the same regret and feeling of loss. Guy de Maupassant uses very emotive language to emphasize Mathilde’s memories of the past. He writes: “She would sit by the window and think of that evening long ago when she had been so beautiful and admired.” This regret that Mathilde feels is the more predominant impact of her loss. She feels annoyed and upset about the unlucky circumstances that she fell into. She thinks that it is unfair, as she says: “How little is needed to make or break us!” Both characters exhibit self-pity throughout the pieces of writing. In The Necklace, it reads: “She had no fine dresses, no jewelry, nothing; and that was all she cared about.” She is sad for herself, and we feel not pity but anger at her for this, because she has no reason for it. However, in some ways, both their reasons for self-pity are somewhat justifiable, as it is a very normal desire to want to look nice at a ball or to attain respect amongst one’s companions. Are they undesirable characters, or are they justifiably pitied?
It is clear from both pieces that the writer intended to underline that greediness is what caused Mathilde’s and the soldier’s loss, and that regret soon follows. The hope and desires of both characters are dashed and lost as a consequence of their greedy pursuit of the superficial. However, I think both writers also intended for society to be criticised for the way that it glorifies war and how it glamorizes jewels (which in reality are only glass). Perhaps Mathilde and the soldier were conditioned by society to act as they did and to be greedy? Maybe we are left with the feeling that we are all partly responsible for their loss by glorifying war and glamorous parties which contributed to their greed? Overall, both characters had a desire and fascination for the superficial, and although this is put across differently by both writers, the ultimate theme of inevitable loss is the same.
Short Story Review: The necklace
“The necklace”, is a short story by Guy De Maupassant, it revolves around a young woman who had these desires to have things she couldn’t afford. Mathilide the protagonist in this story, was invited to a ball, but she did not have enough money to buy a dress. Her husband spent what little money they had to get her one. The next thing she needed was a necklace so she borrowed one from her friend. The necklace she borrowed was an expensive diamond necklace, after that she went to the ball and had lost it there. Her next move was to buy an identical necklace, by doing this it had put the couple in debt. At the end of the story Mathilide finds out the necklace she borrowed was a fake. The lesson here is if she wasn’t unhappy with what she already had, she wouldn’t of borrowed, and lost the necklace. Guy De Maupassant tried to convey the theme of “being discontent can bring you problems.” This conflict was represented throughout the story, and theme. “She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and even luxury” (Pg.1). This is an internal conflict because it has to do with feelings.
The story also says she suffered with her life which made her want luxurious things. Her choices caused her, her own problems later on in the story. This is what supports the theme. Mathilide also did not have a dress to wear (pg.2). Since she didn’t have a proper dress to wear she absolutely “had” to spend money on a new dress. This conflict is both internal, and external because clothes are part of people’s appearance, but also she felt like she needed a better one. Buying the dress in the first place was hard for them considering the financial trouble they have. Her being upset with the dress she already had caused her to buy a newer, and more expensive dress. This is what supports the theme and caused problems by her being ungrateful. Foreshadowing in the necklace takes place when Mathilide, and her husband go to the jewelers. His name was inside the empty case where Madam Forestier’s necklace once was, he then looked through his ledger and said, “It was not I, madame who sold the necklace; I must simply have supplied the case.” This tells us that if the necklace was such a valuable piece of jewelry, it would not of been sold separately. I personally enjoyed this story by, Guy De Maupassant as it has some valuable lessons in it. He used different literary devices in his story like, conflict to support the plot. He also included foreshadowing which hinted at us what was to come in the story.
Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness
“Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult.” Samuel Johnson.
Women, who share the same social class, can have different outcomes based on what they deem to be important. An example of this can be seen in O. Henry’s character Della from The Gift of the Magi and Guy and De Maupassant’s Mathilde from The Necklace. Both characters live in poverty and their social class affects their self- perception, understanding of their environment, and how they treat others.
First, let’s look at how Della and Mathilde attain the things they do not possess. Both women want to be able to afford the basic and if possible the best things of life. Mathilde from The Necklace is depicted as a woman with expensive taste. When invited to a ball she feels ashamed that she doesn’t have anything nice to wear. She gets mad at her husband since it’s his fault she has no clothes or accessories to wear, Monsieur Loisel is upset by her reaction, yet out of kindness asks how much a satisfactory dress would cost. Monsieur Loisel is quite shocked at the amount of money she wants but agrees to give her the money. The day of the party arrives and Mathilde Loisel is not acting herself she tells her husband the reason for her behavior is the absence of jewelry is overwhelming for her. Monsieur Loisel suggests that she wear flowers, but she refuses. He recommends she visit Madame Forestier and borrow something. Madame Forestier agrees to lend Mathilde a piece of jewelry, and Mathilde selects a diamond necklace. Mathilde Loisel is filled with joy and appreciativeness towards Madame Forestier’s generosity. So here we see Matilde compensate by borrowing her friend’s necklace and manipulating her husband into buying her in outfit. At the time of the event, she was able to get the attention of others she wanted. She appeared like a woman of class and importance, but as the night ends she loses the necklace in which she is unable to replace. In contrast, Della from The Gift of Magi is burden by the fact that she is unable to give a Christmas gift to her husband. Selfishly, she cuts her hair and sells it in so that she will be able to afford a gift for her husband. Similarly, both women are limited by their impoverish state, like people within their class they can only sell valued possession or beg.
Secondly, the two novels highlight how poverty makes or breaks relationships. Mathilde was being married to a low-status clerk in the Ministry of Education, who can only afford to provide her with basic shelter food and clothing. Mathilde felt that her poverty is a burden. Given that she was born within a respectable family. She regrets the outcome of her marriage, and every day and imagines a wealthier lifestyle. Similarly, Della and her husband are getting by with little to no money. Jim was once a well-paid man at his job making thirty dollars a week. However, there was a cut back in money, so as a result he was only being paid twenty dollars a week. Della too wasn’t able to contribute or save that much either. Although she was saving her pennies it was nothing in comparison to what her husband was bringing home. Similarly, both women hoped their relations to their husbands will provide a sustainable life. For Mathilde, she wanted to maintain or upgrade the life she was grown into while Della experience brief riches was content with what she had even if it wasn’t a lot.
Thirdly, poverty affected Mathilde and Della’s sense of beauty and worth. For Mathilde, at the party, she was the prettiest woman present. Every man was eager to dance with her and she danced a lot and had fun all night. At the end of the ball, Mathilde searches for Monsieur Loisel, who had been deserted. He helps put her cloak on and suggest waiting inside since outside is cold. Mathilde felt ashamed of the cheapness of her cloak and follows Monsieur Loisel outside. They walk for a while before hailing a cab. When they finally return home, Mathilde is sad that the night is over. One can imagine, Mathilde was not only embarrassed about her appearance but also of her husband. Who most likely at this event didn’t have the flashiest clothing. On the other hand, in order to keep their gift giving tradition. Della is wrestling with the selling her most prized possession, her hair. Della’s hair defined her beauty. It was extremely long and brown has been compared to running brown water and had also been said to be more beautiful than any queen’s jewels. In cutting her hair, she is waiting restlessly for Jim to come home from work. When he arrives home, Della does not know what Jim’s reaction will be she thinks to herself will he still love her? Will he like his gift she gave up her most prized possession she sold to get the gift? Will he not want to be with her anymore? Once Jim sees Della he is quite shocked at first but after he takes in the fact that she went through so much to get him that gift Jim tells Della that he will love her no matter what she does with her hair. “Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less.”
In conclusion, Della and Mathilde are women of poor conditions and poverty challenged them in how they dealt with money and love. Both characters demonstrated that in the same conditions you can have different situations and outcomes, which is determined by one’s outlook on life. As we have seen poverty wasn’t just the having no money, for Della things would have been worse if she lost her husband’s love for her; while Mathilde her worst point was feeling unworthy and not being able to live the best life she felt she deserved.
Analysis Of The Necklace Short Story
One of Guy De Maupassant’s literary influences was Gustave Flaubert, who taught him to write. Flaubert’s teaching principles suggested that the “writer must look at everything to find some aspect of it that no one has yet seen or expressed,” thus providing the reader a new or different view of life (Charters, “Maupassant” header 523). Maupassant succeeded in being a writer “who had entered into himself and looked out upon life through his own being and with his own eyes,” according to Kate Chopin (861). He wrote “realistic fiction” and greatly influences writers still (Charters, “Brief History” 998). “The Necklace” was written in the 19th century Literary Realism period. The story focuses on “everyday events, lives, [and the] relationships of middle/lower class,” and it provides a glimpse of normal people and how they are influenced by “social and economic forces” (Agatucci 4).
The meaning of “The Necklace” is developed through the depiction of the characters and the plot of the story. Maupassant stated that the story is not only a form of entertainment but a tool “to make us think and to make us understand the deep and hidden meaning of events” (“Writer’s” 896). I found that the theme of “The Necklace” exhibits the importance of honesty and being happy with who you are. It shows that things are not always what they seem, material things do not define the person and that money cannot solve all problems and may in fact create them. Donald Adamson describes the main character, Mathilde, as a “poor but an honest woman,” I disagree with his opinion. Mathilde’s dishonesty changes her life and forces her to know “the horrible existence of the needy” (Maupassant 528). “The Necklace” is a story about Mathilde, a miserable and selfish wife of a “little clerk” who suffers “from the poverty of her dwelling,” and dreams of a rich and elegant lifestyle where she is beautiful and “envied” (Maupassant, “Necklace”, 524). This conflict within Mathilde drives her throughout the story. Her dedicated husband, M. Loisel, is content with their life and wishes to make her happy despite everything he must endure. After obtaining an invitation to a ball that was an “awful trouble to get,” he eagerly takes it home to his wife who is ungrateful because she does not feel that she has anything suitable to wear (525). After having a new dress made, Mathilde can’t imagine going to the ball without “a single jewel” so she borrows a beautiful necklace from her friend Mme. Forestier (526). The day of the ball proved to be everything Mathilde imagined, but it all ends when she loses the necklace. Although M. Loisel and Mathilde find a replacement necklace, they spend “ten years in grinding poverty until they finally paid off their debt,” only to discover that the necklace was not a diamond necklace but just “mere costume jewellery” (Adamson).
Charters defines plot as the “sequence of events in a story and their relation to one another as they develop and usually resolve a conflict” (“Elements” 1003). In the exposition of “The Necklace,” Maupassant provides a detailed “character portrait” of Mathilde and offers some important details about M. Loisel (Adamson). It is obvious that conflict exists inside of Mathilde. She feels she is too good for the life she leads. She is unhappy with who she is and dreams of being someone else. On the contrary, M. Loisel is happy and satisfied to come home to his wife who prepares him an “economical but tasty meal” (Smith). Mathilde is very materialistic and believes that riches would end her suffering, she won’t even visit a rich friend and “former classmate at the convent” because she is so jealous and envious.
The rising action of the plot begins when M. Loisel presents the invitation to Mathilde. This presentation only aggravates the conflict that exists within Mathilde and she cannot imagine going to the ball in any of her old dresses. Mathilde sheds two pitiful tears and M. Loisel “quickly decides to sacrifice his savings” so that she may purchase a new dress (Smith). Mathilde is not satisfied with just a new dress! She believes it would be a disgrace to show up at the ball without jewelry. She must not “look poor among other women who are rich” (Maupassant 526). So she borrows a “superb necklace of diamonds” from Mme. Forestier (526). In this passage Maupassant convinces the reader that the necklace is real diamonds; “he misleads the reader into believing that the necklace really is valuable” (Adamson). This creates more excitement for the climax of the story when Mathilde loses the necklace on her way home from the ball. M. Loisel responds by going to search for the necklace to no avail. He does not find the necklace and instructs Mathilde to lie to Mme. Forestier and tell her that she has broken the necklace and will need time to have it repaired. If Mathilde would have chosen to be honest at this point, Mme. Forestier would have told her that the necklace was only “paste…worth at most five hundred francs” (530). Instead they find a suitable replacement necklace that costs thirty-six thousand francs. After one week M. Loisel “had aged five years,” and was forced to use his inheritance and borrow money “risking his signature without even knowing if he could meet it” to buy the replacement necklace (Maupassant, “Necklace” 528). Upon returning the necklace to her friend, Mathilde discovered the “horrible existence of the needy” (528). They “dismissed their servant” and gave up their flat. Mathilde became a “woman of impoverished households – strong and hard and rough” (529). She was forced to haggle and defend their “miserable money” (529). It took them ten years to pay off all of their debts. Mathilde was no longer pretty and charming, she now had “frowsy hair… and red hands” (529).
These trials and tribulations represent the falling action of the story, where the conflict is moving toward a resolution (Charters, “Elements” 1005). Guy De Maupassant’s narrator and Donald Adamson use the term hero when describing Mme. Loisel, but I do not feel that her actions were heroic. She was just fulfilling the duties that were always expected of her, but that she felt she was too good for. I do not believe that dishonesty is a trait of a hero. Perhaps if Mathilde would have been honest with Mme. Forestier from the beginning about losing the necklace, she would have explained that it was not real diamonds and they could have avoided all of the hardships they endured. Some may argue that Mathilde was heroic because she took responsibility for her mistake, gave up her lifestyle and worked to repay the debt. It was admirable that she did not expect her husband to bear the burden alone. The conclusion of “The Necklace” undoubtedly contains an element of surprise. Mathilde discovers that the necklace was not made of diamonds, but imitation gems. This devastating discovery leaves many unanswered questions.
Maupassant’s narrator uses limited omniscient narration by describing Mathilde with her thoughts. She is a round character capable of choosing alternative responses to the situations presented to her (Charters, “Elements” 1007). I believe Mathilde is both a dynamic and a static character. She is dynamic because she does undergo a significant change and takes on the duties of a poverty stricken housewife. Yet she remains static in that she is still not content with her life and dreams of that “gay evening long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful” (Maupassant, “Necklace” 529). Her husband M. Loisel is also a round character, the “play and pull of his actions and responses to situations” could be observed throughout the story (Charters, “Elements” 1007). When Mathilde is unhappy with the invitation to the ball he offers to buy her a new dress. When she wants jewelry he recommends borrowing from Mme. Forestier and when she loses the necklace he collects the money to replace it. Although M. Loisel does experience some change, he is a static character. I believe he is content and happy with his life throughout the story. He continues to work hard and stays dedicated to Mathilde. The themes of “The Necklace” are evident throughout the plot of the story. If only Mathilde would have been honest with Mme. Forestier and happy with who she was, she could have prevented the whole ordeal. Her misfortune proves to the reader that honesty is the best choice. Maupassant warns the reader of the afflictions that vanity may cause. There was no need for Mathilde to wear a diamond necklace; she was too concerned about what others would think of her. The fake diamond necklace proves that things are not always what they seem, although Mme. Forestier appeared to be rich, she chose or may have only been able to afford costume jewelry. I believe “The Necklace” serves as a reminder of the importance of being happy and proud of who we are regardless of the amount of material things or money that we possess.
“The Necklace”, a Short Story by Guy Maupassant
The Necklace, a short story by Guy Maupassant, is about a woman who spends and wastes her life trying to repay something that was not even real. The author presents the main themes, greediness and selfishness, through the character of Mathilde, and how these, in many occasions, lead to unhappiness. Mathilde had a right to be a little envious, everyone does, but the lengths that she took to achieve the “luxurious” lifestyle were extreme and did her more harm than good. Behind all of the struggles portrayed to the reader there is a very valuable lesson to live by, and that is that life is too short to be focused on little, materialistic things, especially when there are problems of greater importance in the world.
At first, after reading about Mathilde and her troubles of losing the necklace and wasting her life away to pay for it, I felt sorry for her. Now, looking back, I just feel anger towards her for being greedy and focused on insignificant things. This story reminded me that we should be grateful for what we have in life and not be so envious of others. Knowing that it would be difficult to afford one, Mathilde begged her husband for a new dress. I became really upset because clearly her husband was eager to take her to an event where he knew that she would have fun and take a break from her daily routines.
However, she was ungrateful for the invitation because she wanted a new dress to go to the event. To me, this was the starting point of Mathilde showing her true emotions of envy towards those of a higher class. If she would have simply appreciated the gesture of her husband, the entire event of losing the necklace wouldn’t have happened and she wouldn’t have wasted ten years of her life on something imitated and worthless. People need to remember what their life’s purpose is on this earth and realize that everything happens for a reason. Not everyone is supposed to be rich and not everyone is supposed to be poor. If I had to feel sorrow for anyone in this short story, it would be for Mathilde’s husband who had to put up with her complaints. That man gave his all to make his wife happy and she was never satisfied with what she had. Even though it was his wife the one who committed the mistake, he was still there along her side, helping to recover what she had done.
In conclusion, Mathilde was so caught up in living the luxurious life that she forgot who she was and what she had in life. She had the basic needs to survive and a loving, caring husband who clearly was willing to do anything for her. When people become selfish and greedy, they end up losing more then they negotiate for, and that was clear after Mathilde wasted ten years of her life trying to pay for something that wasn’t even real. People should not take what they have for granted, instead they should be happy with the people that they have in their life and not focus so much on their possessions. As Gandhi once said, “earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greeds.” This perfectly sums up the moral of the story, The Necklace.