A Good Man is Hard to Find and The Necklace: Pride Goes Before the Fall
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor and “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant reveal two women with serious character flaws: excessive pride, all destroying hubris. Pride has perplexed philosophers and theologians for centuries; it is an especially complex emotion. It can be what we imagine we are: worthy, admirable, honest, infallible; and not necessarily who we are. We applaud individualism, self-respect, and personal excellence, but too much pride can easily tip the balance toward vanity, selfishness, and greed. Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a manipulative character determined to get whatever she wants. Similarly, Mathilde in “The Necklace” is a resentful protagonist who feels like she deserves a better life. In both characters we see how excessive pride can be complicated by a lack of self-awareness and an inordinate self-esteem, which leads each woman to a ruinous outcome.
Grandmother in O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” considers herself morally superior to others by virtue of being a “lady.” In fact, she dresses up for road trips complete with white gloves and a hat. Unlike her daughter-in-law who wears slacks and ties her hair up with handkerchiefs. O’Connor writes, “Just in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know that she was once a lady” (1). She mourns the time of “nice people,” and frequently lectures her grandchildren about respect, respect “of their native states of their parents and everything else” (O’Connor 2). She manipulates her family and judges’ individuals based on their appearances and superficial behaviors. Grandmother uses the story of a criminal calling himself the Misfit to selfishly persuade the family from traveling to Florida. Ultimately, she ends up directing them right into his path by convincing her son, Bailey, to take a back road to see an old plantation she remembers. Grandmother also knows Bailey would never allow her cat, Pitty Sing, in hotel. However, she decides to hide him in a basket under her valise anyway. She calls Red Sammy a “good man” (3) simply because he gave two strangers free gas, which does not necessarily make him a good man. Ironically, she also refers to Misfit as a good man because of his calm demeanor and favorable appearance. Despite her assurance that she can judge a good man from a bad person, the grandmother fails to recognize that the Misfit is a ruthless killer. As much as Grandmother portrays herself as a good “lady,” her manipulative and selfish behavior costs the lives of her entire family – as well as her own.
Mathilde in Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is discontent with life. She is a pretty and charming girl who as if by a mistake of destiny was “born into a family of clerks” (Maupassant 1). Instead of living a grateful life, she feels cheated. She has many flaws, but most obvious are her greed for material things and inability to admit the truth. Her pride allows her to feel that she is entitled to the elegant life and she is angry that she cannot purchase the jewels and clothing that she desires. Maupassant writes, “She fretted constantly, feeling all things delicate and luxurious to be her birthright” (1). In addition to her desire for material things, she longs to be the object of others’ desires and to be envied by other women. Wishing to appear wealthy to the other women at the ball she buys a new dress and borrows a diamond necklace from a wealthy friend, which turns out to be harbinger of her demise. She had a wonderful time at the ball, ‘She was prettier than them all, lovely, gracious, smiling, and wild with delight’ (2). For a short time, she is living the life she deserves, “all of the Ministry wanted a waltz – even the Minister noticed her” (2). Mathilde loses the necklace and her pride keeps her from confessing the truth. Ultimately, it forces her into a decade of hard labor and debt in order to replace the cherished jewels. She sacrificed her husband and lost her youth due to her pride and lack of self-awareness.
Pride can be mystifying. Ordinarily it is considered a virtue, however, pride can be destructive. The Grandmother in O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” prides herself on being a moral, southern “lady,” yet she criticizes and frequently passes judgement on others. Similarly, Mathilde, in Maupassant’s “The Necklace” has an excessive sense of entitlement and thinks she is living in a world beneath her. In similar ways, both characters lack self-awareness and possess an inordinate self-esteem causing others in their lives to fall victim to their own pride.
- O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The World’s Best Short Stories: Anthology & Criticism. Flannery O’Connor. New York: Roth Publishing. 1990. https://bconline.broward.edu/d2l/le/content/407399/viewContent/10346413/View. Accessed 4 October 2019.
- Maupassant, Guy de. “The Necklace.” Little Masterpieces of Fiction. Guy de Maupassant. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company. 1904. https://bconline.broward.edu/d2l/le/content/407399/viewContent/10346414/View. Accessed 4 October 2019.
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.
Exploring Destruction in The Necklace and The Bright Lights of Sarajevo
Can destruction truly damage a person who continuously makes mistakes? Can destruction truly damage a peaceful realm? The theme of destruction is shared between the two texts. In one of them, destruction takes place physically, through chaos and devastation to the worn-out battlefield of Sarajevo. Whereas in the other, destruction takes place internally and emotionally; through the greed, jealousy and the unappreciative behavior of Madame Loisel. Destruction is a dark force. However, if a light is shined on it, destruction will most certainly fade away. The stories from The Bright Lights of Sarajevo and The Necklace come from two different worlds, but they both include positive morals.
Destruction took over and had obliterated everything in Sarajevo, helping the Serbians collect the lives of innocent Sarajevans through snipers and bomb shells; as easily as picking up pennies on the ground. An evident quote (line 31) from The Bright Lights of Sarajevo to show the mass destruction is “blood-dunked crusts of shredded bread.” From the quote, we draw a negative connotation regarding a massacre. “Blood-dunked” implies on the mass killing of people, with excess amounts of blood draining the rationed bread. “Crusts of shredded bread” can imply on the lack of food and the suffering that the people receive. In addition, “lay on the pavement with the broken dead” from line 32 implies how the killing was uncontrolled, and people were deformed from their original shape while they vulnerably lie on the battlefield. From both quotes, we can infer that the war between Sarajevo and Serbia has been going on painfully for a long period of time. “Death-dark wells splashed on the pavement by Serb mortar shells” can imply on how deep the well was. “Death-dark” also adds to semantic field of words related to fate in this poem. Other words in the semantic field include ‘massacre’, ‘struggle’, ‘broken’The fact that it got destroyed connotes on the large number of shells used in the war. The city of Sarajevo has been lay to waste by Serb mortars.
On the other hand, destruction takes place emotionally in The Necklace. The destruction of Mathilde Loisel’s emotion kicks off as she realized that her necklace had gone missing. “Sitting disconsolately on a chair by the empty grate, her mind a blank” (line 146) states how depressed she was. She couldn’t move as she could not believe her eyes. From the quote, we can infer that she was appalled whilst seeing her future as her “mind went blank”. While Mathilde waited for her husband to do all the work for her, her mind was still tearing up staying in the same “distracted condition” (line 150) making her go deep into sadness. The actual atomic bomb of the destruction though was when Mathilde and her husband realized how much they would have to pay for the necklace knowing how much time and hardship it would take to get the money back so they would not be in debt. “The grim poverty which stood ready to pounce, and the prospect of all the physical privation and mental torture ahead” (line 178) was marking where the Loisels would be going into poverty.” However, just like The Bright Lights of Sarajevo, the destruction would end someday. Unfortunately for Mathilde it was ten years whereas in Sarajevo, it was five. “Wearing down her pink nails” implies on how much she didn’t want to do chores and domestic work. For Mathilde, the destruction has affected her drastically. ” Battling, hard, uncouth housewife” (line 204) implies on how much she had changed into a person she would never wanted to be, disgusted, old and rude.
Comparison Of Two Female Characters in The Necklace Novel
Comparison of the Characters Scheherazade and Madame Loisel
In the short story ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant, which was written in the late 19th century in France, the main character is a pessimistic, hateful woman named Madame Loisel who loses a donated diamond necklace and ends up paying for her actions 10 years on.
The other short story ‘King Schahriar and his brother’ features another female main character named Scheherzade, where she, single handedly, tries to prevent the murders of women caused by the Sultan. This story was written in the 18th century, whilst the origin and author of this story is unknown.
In ‘King Schahriar’ Scheherzade is at first seen as a Innocent girl , “Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?” The use of formal, gentle tone of voice perhaps shows that she cares for her father, yet has admiration and respect for her father because he has given her the intelligence to help others, “the best masters in philosophy, medicine, history and the fine arts.”
On the other hand, Madame Loisel is quite the opposite, “ Not one stone, that I can put on. I’ll look like a church mouse. I’d almost as soon as not to go to the reception.” This sentence not only highlights the neediness of Loisel, but also how she is very cunning, and she uses her ungratefulness to persuade her weak husband into getting what she desires; an upgrade in class, “She dreamed of elegant dinners, gleaming silverware, and tapestries which peopled the walls with mythical characters and strange birds in enchanted forests.” The use of the large amount of adjectives followed by nouns in this description tells us that Loisel’s dreams are extremely vivid and well thought out, therefore suggesting that she spends a majority of her life in jealousy for the rich.
Another character trait that is clearly visible is that Scheherzade is very optimistic, “ if I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.” Although she may seem optimistic on the surface, she is truly trying to persuade her father, because she believes that he wants patriotism because he is the grand-vizier. In addition, this sentence perhaps suggest that stories have become an important part of Scheherzade, as this sentence may be seen as a cliché; a common feature of fiction. On the other hand Madame Loisel is much more pessimistic, “A modest, everyday coat, a commonplace coat , violently at odds with the elegance of her dress.” The use of Maupassant’s dialogue is to show how quickly Loisel is to notice the downsides of a situation, and how these negatives can ‘drag her down’ are shown by the multiple adjectives that she uses, which are also in the line, “the peeling walls, the battered chairs and the ugly curtains.” This use of multiple adjectives may suggest that Madame Loisel is too experienced, because her thought is advanced and extremely detailed.
Another character trait of Scheherzade is that she is persistent, “Once again, my father, will you grant me what I ask?” This sentence highlights that she is not going to be changed by what her father says, but she won’t stop until she has gotten her way and achieves this by the repetition of non threatening phrases and structures in other sentences, for example, “Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?” In addition, the use of ‘will you’ is implying that her father has no choice, and Scheherzade knows that he is able to help her and because he has developed an affection for her, and she knows he is going to respond eventually in the way that she wants. In comparison, Madame Loisel is less experienced in person and in person she is irresolute, “ I… I… Madame Forestier’s necklace… I haven’t got it!” This sentence highlights that Madame Loisel first thought is panic, and the multiple sentences in one may imply that her thought process is muddled.
An underlying, yet major character trait of the grand-vizier’s elder is that she is manipulative, which is exposed throughout the story, for instance, “when his highness receives me, I shall beg him, as a last favour, to let you sleep in our chamber…” Since Scheherzade is both beautiful and intelligent, she is able to use these two ‘powers’ together to make even the most powerful of men, the sultan, fall for her. Also, she is able to manipulate a person on more than one occasion; repetition of her begging is due to her powers that she possesses that are able to undermine any form of strength. Just like Scheherzade, Madame Loisel has traits of manipulation, “I can’t say precisely, but I dare say
I could get by on 400 francs.” The use of author’s diction in the line is to highlight that Madame Loisel is also careful with her word choice just like Scheherzade, but unlike Scheherzade, her word choice implies suffering, for example ‘I could get by’, and uncertainty which highlights that she is always trying to get more.
Scheherzade is also very affectionate for people such as her sister,” My dear sister, if you are not asleep, tell me I pray you, before the sun rises, one of your charming stories.” This sentence highlights that Scheherzade has been able to gain admiration by her sister, which is shown by the use of her words, “my dear sister” and “I pray you”, which are altered from what Scheherzade tells Dinarzade, “My sister” and “I beg you”. This alteration may also suggest that the younger sister is willing to do anything for her older sister, and if she is given instructions by her sister she will complete the task. This is displayed by the use of “I pray you”, which means ‘please’ and is less demanding than “I beg you”, which is example of an imperative. On the other end of the spectrum, Madame Loisel shows no respect towards her husband, “she tossed the invitation peevishly onto the table and muttered: “what earthly use is that to me.” The author’s use of diction is to show that any effort and thought that her husband makes is merely appreciated, and without the use of the husband’s logic, she wouldn’t have any sense in any situation, “but if you’d lost it in the street, we’d have heard it fall. So it must be in the cab.” Although Loisel is extremely caring for his wife, which is shown by the use of his repetitive caring diction such as ‘look’ and questions: “What’s up? He stammered. What’s the matter?” this may also be implying that the husband is afraid of his wife when she expresses her pessimistic feelings, and he wants to avoids this by caring for her.
The final point to make about Scheherzade is that she is always prudent, “Scheherzade did not answer her sister, but turned to the Sultan. “Will your highness permit me to do as my sister asks?” The author’s use of dialogue also suggests that Scheherzade always tries to gain respect from others by using a formal and intelligent voice , because she has realised that she will be able to get favours from those who she is respectful and charitable to in the future, “if I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.” In reality she may be going through with this because she will be in debt to the nation from what many favours could be obtained in order to make her life much easier. On the other hand, Madame Loisel has no idea how her actions now could affect the future, “for she was always so unhappy afterwards. Sometimes, for days on end, she would weep tears of sorrow, regret, despair and anguish.” This sentence shows how not one word can describe her suffering because it effects her so greatly that it has taken over her ideal visions of what is reality. Because of this, her demand is so great, “popular, envied, attractive and in demand. Moreover, her additional suffering of 10 years in poverty may have ended if she lived off the concept that people can give favours, yet Madame Loisel has no awareness of other people’s feelings, “And it was all on your account.” In my opinion, the necklace would’ve never been lost if it had never been borrowed, and her egotism was the entire reason that got her into the situation of getting the necklace which turned out to be a fake, “oh, my poor Mathilde! But it was only an imitation necklace. It couldn’t have been worth much more than five hundred francs!” In conclusion Madame Loisel has been living both mentally and physically in a fantasy, always in belief that the rich live a ‘perfect life’, yet in reality they do not, and to finally realise this, a 10 year grind of poverty was to take place, which her husband took part in. Because of this, I’d say that this was worth it for Madame Loisel, because she was able to she herself without any barriers in the way. For Scheherzade, I would say that her overall goal is to make her future much easier, and her main strategy is to befriend others so that she will easily get her way, a lesson that could’ve been taught to Madame Loisel to prevent her suffering from ever occurring.
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.