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.
Mankind’s Obsession with Money in The Queen of Spades and The Necklace
The two stories “The Queen of Spades” and “The necklace” talks about human obsession with money. The queen of spade story opens up by criticizing the game of cards among the group of junior army officers. This criticism is based on the past lesson of Tomsky grandmother who lost great fortune years earlier while playing cards. According to Pushkin (1834), there are similarities between the younger and older generation when it comes obsession with money. Humans do risks what they have in the quest to become rich within a shorter time. This obsession with money has lifetime consequences. On the other hand, the necklace story narrates a story of a young woman, Mathilde Loisel, who was obsessed with wealth (1884). She had a dream of marrying a rich person but in the end she ended up marrying a copyist, who was not considered rich by those days’ standards. Mathilde failure to satisfy her obsession with wealth subjected her to a traumatic life (Maupassant, 1884).
There are lessons that we can learn from these two stories. In the queen of spade, the lesson we can learn is that humans are never satisfied with the wealth that they already have. They are willing to risk their fortunes in order to gain more wealth. Furthermore, we learn a lesson that there are things that should be valued in life rather than money which are peace and independence (Pushkin, 1834). Therefore, humans must be contented with what they have already rather than struggling to achieve things which are nearly impossible. In the Necklace story, the lesson we learn is that we should stay focused on our current lives rather than the being obsessed about the future which can be unpredictable. In addition, not all things in life go well as expected, especially when it comes to the matters of relationship and wealth.
These stories have similar lessons. The game of cards is similar to our lives. Life is a gamble because it can never be predicted on how it would end. Just like gambling, you can never predict on whether you would succeed or not. Therefore, instead of focusing about the next move, it is important to concentrate on what you already have and the issues at hand. Both stories highlight the consequences of human obsession with money or wealth.
The universal idea of discovery through the concept of retrospect
The texts of “Away” by Michael Gow and “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant explore the universal idea of discovery through the concept of retrospect and its association with time whereby our best discoveries are often too late driven by a blockade that humankind places on itself. However time is not the only avenue in which can barricade us form the greatest discoveries, we can achieve greater knowledge by removing the barriers in which life so daringly presents us with, and as these barriers are let down, individuals are able to rediscover their world with new eyes. While both texts both explore the ideas of discovery, the play “Away” focuses on how physical perceptions of a person and their life is the basic assumption of the suffering of others, this leads to retrospective revelations which offer individuals the opportunity to change before it’s too late.
Maupassant’s “The Necklace” likewise explores the consequences assumptions and tries to flee from reality because of the need to survive. However through “The necklace” we discover that the irony of the missing necklace and the stress that they had to undergo triggered growth and change within an individual and their surroundings, assumptions can prove to be more detrimental than cathartic. In Michael Gows text, “Away” we are introduced to the idea of greater self-discovery through overcoming critical obstacles. For the protagonist Tom, he battles to accept his impending death conveyed through his attempts to keep it hidden from his parents “they want me to think I’m going to be as right as rain. They mustn’t find out”.
By overcoming this obstacle Tom is able to achieve self-discovery in realizing his ironic role as the healer foreshadowed at the beginning of the play in “A midsummer’s nights dream”, “give me your hands… Robin shall restore amends”. Ironically it is his impending death, which provides him with greater intuitive in recognizing the precious products of life. We are able to explore Tom’s therapeutic nature through his problematic relationship with Coral. The mini play they put on, “Strangers by the Shore,” is an metaphor of the healing of the soul. Coral’s transition from, “come with me… into the darkness” into the healing light of, “I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking, I’m walking” is suggestive of Tom’s ability to bring other characters to a greater discovery. It also is noticeable of the changes from her character in the meta-play then her in real life, as she literally and symbolically begins to walk again away from her grief and sadness from the beginning of the text where she had been so separated from society. In such an act, Tom himself comes to understand the preciousness of his remaining time.
Intertextually, this is sanctioned by his final scene with Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, revealing that he has conclusively accomplished a greater self-growth, as he is able to “crawl unburdened towards death.” Tom’s overall renewal reminds us of the emphasis we place on time in teaching us our notable lessons where we too must priorities what really matters as it shows the great self-discovery of overcoming obstacles.
The Repreentation Of Women In Still I Rise By Maya Angelou And The Necklace By Guy De Maupassant
The portrayal of groups of people in the media has consistently changed with the times. ‘Still I Rise’ and ‘The Necklace’ are both forms of writing that were written during contrasting periods and by two contrasting people. ‘The Necklace was written during the ‘Belle Époque’, which in France was a time of art, economic optimism and regional peace, partly fueled by France’s many colonial ventures. It was a time when the need for more labour jobs increased, which meant that much of the population was given low paying jobs and kept grouped together. This created large class disparities between both the rich and the poor. This topic is prevalently mentioned in ‘The Necklace’. ‘Still I Rise’ was written during 1979 which was a time of poverty and racism in America – mostly directed at the African-American community – despite bills like Affirmative Action as well as the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, ‘64 and ‘68. Black people were still shunned by the majority and were not given equal opportunities. Yet in both these pieces of literature they show people not backing down from when there is hardship ahead of them. They demonstrate the wonder of human spirit.
The main message of ‘Still I Rise’ is about outsiders’ prejudice against the African-American community, especially African-American females. The Poet uses lines like “Does my sassiness upset you?” and “Does my haughtiness offend you?”. Sassiness and haughtiness were seen at the time as mainly female qualities. Maya Angelou uses them to say that she isn’t apologetic or insecure about her femininity. The main message from this quote is that ‘you should be comfortable in your own skin’. Don’t apologize for your bold and unique laugh or your opinionated personality. This gives the reader an understanding of a sense of pride and inner strength. It allows anyone to relate to the message. The writer points a positive light on the hatred against her. She uses sarcasm, and writes in a determined manner to express her strength at always ﬁghting back, no matter the obstacle.
The phrase “Still I Rise” is constantly written in the poem. This line is used to denote that despite all the hardship that African-American women faced at that time they will rise above the hatred. This gives the audience courage to stand up against people who oppress them or send hatred towards them. That feeling that this poem gives the audience is the reason why it was so successful. It gave hope towards a group that needed it the most. One thing you notice when you read Maya Angelou’s poem is the repetition of the phrase “I Rise”. The phrase is used three times before the last two stanzas, which helped present a theme within the piece as well as a rhythm. This also gives the poem a sense of order. All the different topics intertwine through the phrase “I Rise” and this translates to the audience being able to understand the theme easily. In the last two paragraphs the word is used a lot more prevalently, often used to separate different statements. The poem eventually ends with a trio of “I Rise”. This rapid use of the word drills home that phrase “I Rise”. This summarizes the main moral of the story for the reader. The moral that African-American females will not be pushed over despite the hardships they face.
The Poem “Still I Rise” and the short story “The Necklace” both connect through a similar struggle. Which is that both characters fought through through adversity, Maya Angelou did this by not listening to the hatred and animosity. Mathilde Loisel does this by putting her head down, working hard and paying off her debts. In the past both of these things were vital for women to even want to be able to climb the social ladder. This helps give a reader in the past an example and a call to action for people to emulate them. ‘The Necklace’ is set in 19th century France in which the population was divided into different sects. During this time women had a lot less power than men and usually relied on men. There was little chance they would marry above their own class and even less of a chance that they would marry below it. During this time women wouldn’t work and would rely on men to provide the income for the family. This story is about a women named Madame Loisel who is sick of being part of the middle class and dreams of being part of the upper Echelon of society. Madame Loisel talks about “the large parlors, decked with old silk, with their delicate furniture, supporting precious bric-a-brac, and on the coquettish little rooms, perfumed, prepared for the five o’clock chat with the most intimate friends, men well known and sought after, whose attentions all women envied and desired. ” This shows that she doesn’t like how she was born into a certain group due to her gender. She feels, due to her beauty she deserves to have all the riches in the world and because of this she tricks herself. This sends the character down a spiral of desire which leads to self loathing. This ends up being her downfall in the story. When goes to the ball she is so overwhelmed by the fact that she is being treated as upper class she forgets about her necklace and ends up losing it. This leads to 10 years of hard labour which ends up being a wake up call to her that she should accept her place in society.
The worst part is that Madame Loisel always dreamt of the luxuries that come with being high class but never got around to trying to get the kind of money needed for that kind of lifestyle. But when the necessity for money is there her and her husband are able to earn enough. This teaches the audience that there is no point in dreaming about something but not actually doing anything with it. If you try your goals seem more attainable. The writer is able to get across the character of Mathilde to the reader in the first few paragraphs. Though most of the story concerns the events surrounding the ball, the narrator recounts Madame Loisel’s birth into a humble family and marriage. born, as if by an error of fate, into a family of clerks. “She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of becoming known, understood, loved or wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and so she let herself be married to a minor official at the Ministry of Education”. The fact that the writer wrote this at the start of the story shows how much he wanted to get across this fact about the main character. The reason the reader feels like this character could be real is because of how the writer depicts the plight of the middle class. The lack of demand for money but the longing for it was depicted perfectly in the first few paragraphs in which the narrator of the story talks about how Mathilde dreams of being part of the high class. The story ends with Mathilde, after paying off her debts, going up to Madame Forestier and confessing how she had lost her necklace. Madame Forestier returns with this line “Oh, my poor Mathilde! Mine was an imitation! It was worth five hundred francs at most!. . . “. The surprise ending unhinges the previously implied premise of the story. Until this point, the reader has been able to interpret Mathilde’s ten years of poverty as penance for her stolen night of pleasure at the party and for carelessly losing the borrowed necklace. The ending shatters that illusion, revealing that the ten years of misery were unnecessary and could have been avoided if only Mathilde had been honest with Madame Forestier. Losing the necklace had seemed to be Mathilde’s fatal mistake, but it was actually Mathilde’s failure to be truthful with Madame Forestier that sealed her fate. This shocking realization sheds new light on the previous events and suggests that Mathilde’s future — even though her debts are now repaid — will be none too rosy. This creates even more empathy within the reader for Mathilde.
In conclusion my personal take on both the works is that they both talk about how women were not able to contribute to society or go up the social ladder. “Still I Rise focuses on how black women should keep their head held high even when they face hardship. And ‘The Necklace’ talks about how detrimental giving places in society to different groups are. Both of these Pieces of literature brought light to bad parts of the society during their respective times.