The Necklace: A Brilliant Tale By Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant’s short story, The Necklace, occurs in 1884, Paris, France. This was the 19th century, commonly referred to as the Belle. Society was divided into social groups based on wealth. Marriage was considered if the within their social class or higher and women relied on men financially. The Necklace was brilliantly written in simple form exposing evidence of literary realism. The story revolves around Mathilde, a woman who was discontented with where life had placed her, lower-middle class. Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries (Maupassant, 1884, para. 3). She had no way of being understood, being known by societies members and [ ] married by any rich and distinguished man (1). She lowered her standards and married a man who she thought was beneath her. He worked for the Ministry of Public Instruction. Mathilde’s Loisel husband seems to be quite content with their average life unlike Mathilde, doing everything he could to please her. She continuously daydreamed of dainty dinners, of shining silverware and she thought of delicious dishes served on marvelous plates (5), for she would have loved to be envied, to be longed for, to be desired.
When there is no change of a character throughout the entire story, it is defined as a static character and a character that is extremely realistic is described as round. Of course, this all touches on the feelings of the whole story, especially the climax, and is extremely dependent on how the author builds up the characters. Maupassant does an excellent job of describing Mathilde’s character, who was habitually unhappy with her life and always wanting more. When characters are portrayed as self-absorbed and greedy, they usually make bad choices or decisions in the heat of conflict. This is clearly shown in Mathilde’s character.
The theme that this story reveals is greed and pride. When Mathilde’s husband comes home one evening with an invitation to the ball, he was excited to it give Mathilde because this was an exclusive gathering, instead, she threw the invitation on the table crossly, (10), and asked in a dreadful tone as to what she was to do with it? Mathilde revealed her selfishness and self-centeredness by these actions, never once expressing gratitude for receiving the invitation or joining in with her husband’s excitement. She proceeds with exclaiming how she did not have anything to wear. Having no jewelry, and not wanting to look poverty-stricken (12), she states, I would almost rather not go at all. (12). Her friend, Madame Forestier loaned her [ ] a superb diamond necklace [ ] which Mathilde wore to the ball. Men stared at her, asked her to dance, and asked her name. It was Mathilde’s night of fame, her night to shine. She was intoxicated with pleasure and delight by the attention and recognition she received. But grief was soon arriving. She discovered that the necklace was missing from her neck! Mathilde and her husband looked for hours, and to their dismay, never finding it. She did not tell Madame Forestier that she had lost her necklace. Instead, she and her husband took out loans to replace the necklace and, in the end, spent ten years paying loans off, which put them in further hardship.
The necklace and Mathilde’s attitude were the antagonists of this story. They also both are symbols of her greed and are prime illustrations of how destructive they can become. Guy De Maupassant clearly emphasizes this in The Necklace.
As the story continues, Mathilde, the protagonist, takes on a new appearance to her character, as she must wash dishes, and laundry to help pay for the replacement necklace after the original was lost. Mathilde’s role almost changed to a woman of oppression with heroism’, making the reader think that she may be a bit humbled by her insistence of wearing a borrowed’ diamond necklace. It makes me wonder if she ever realizes to its true capacity how selfish she really is and how giving her husband is. The readers perceive Mathilde’s poverty through her eyes, to seem underprivileged and poor, only to get worse after the loss of the necklace. Drastic changes in their lives took place such as, economical lodging, making the life they had before obtaining the necklace looking pretty good compared to the life they have now.
The moral of Maupassant’s short story, “The Necklace,” is to be happy and appreciate the things you have. Do not be envious. Mathilde’s pride stopped her from revealing the loss of necklace and wanting more than she had. Mathilde Loisel is displeased with her life. She is self-absorbed with no regard for her husband and the thoughts of wanting to be wealthy, has consumed her. Life is composed of the most unpredictable, disparate, and contradictory elements, according to Guy de Maupassant.
The ending of the story is a shocker when news of the necklace’s value is disclosed as paste or fake. The Loisel’s spent ten years paying more of a price than monetary. Descriptive and colorful writing is conducted eloquently by Guy de Maupassant in this short story giving his readers a sense of being there, that he is talking directly to us. He clearly illuminates his characters, giving vivid mental pictures of each. However, I wonder if Mathilde finally appreciates the life she had with her husband before the necklace. I wonder if Mathilde will ever understand what her husband gave up for her, before the necklace and after. I wonder if she will ever understand that she was the key player to her misery. I also wonder what happened with both Mathilde and her husband when they found out the truth about the necklace’s value? This is an excellent story about greed and pride and how it affects individuals and everything around them.
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