Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” describes the life of a lady dwelling in nineteenth-century France and experiencing the difficulties associated with her desires to be an aristocrat and her real average life. Desiring to look wealthier than she is, Mathilde Loisel borrows a necklace from her friend, but loses it and has to sacrifice her beauty, working with her husband for many years to repay the loans. The protagonist is presented as a selfish and frustrated person at the beginning, but later she experiences changes in her character when she accepts her social status and helps her husband to repay the debt.
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Madame Loisel is a selfish person who ignores the feelings of others and aspires to achieve her desires at all costs. The woman’s husband invites her to the ball expecting that she will be satisfied. However, Monsieur Loisel understands that he has to abandon his personal wish to buy a new rifle to make the wife happy and buy her a new dress. Irawan notices such features as “materialistic obsession and envious resentment” (6). This description demonstrates that the woman focuses on her desires to be financially prosperous. Consequently, this situation displays that the protagonist disregards the wishes of the beloved person and focuses only on her needs.
The main character is emotionally unsatisfied with her life, considering that she is not wealthy enough to make her beauty sparkle as it deserves. Mainly, at the beginning of the story, the author characterizes the woman as a person dissatisfied with the level of life, “feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies” (De Maupassant 2). This description reveals that Mathilde’s primary feelings are associated with resentment and frustration. In particular, Sari notices that the psychological and sociological dimensions of the life of the character differ and even conflict with each other (66). Although Madame Loisel is psychologically disposed to be wealthy, her social status proves that she has no sufficient means even to dress appropriately for the ball. This conflict proves that the lady is frustrated and depressed because she cannot enjoy what she owns and aspire to belong to a class that is higher than the social class of her family.
Madame Loisel experiences changes that alter her character in the course of life. In the beginning of the story, the woman considers that she is destined to belong to a higher class, which makes her disappointed with the reality of “bareness of the walls” and “the shabby chairs” (De Maupassant 2). However, ten years later, the circumstances leave her no alternative and she has to live in a shabby apartment and work hard to return the debt. This situation makes her forget about her dreams and become a strong and enduring person. For instance, Yadav emphasizes that she “learned to work hard, become down-to-earth” (649). This statement reveals that Mathilde Loisel experiences transformations throughout the story. The lady changes her perception of reality, accepting her social position and learning how to appreciate her life.
Thus, the protagonist of the story, Madame Loisel, experiences the changes in her character evolving from a selfish and discontented person into a sensible and appreciative woman. In particular, being a young lady, she considers that her dreams and desires are the most significant elements of her life, which should be fulfilled at all costs. However, the predicaments demonstrate to her that she should be a moderate individual, behaving according to her social status. Mathilde’s readiness to help her husband to repay the debt displays that she learns this life lesson properly.
De Maupassant, Guy. The Diamond Necklace. Translated by Albert Marian Cohn-McMaster, Saga Egmont, 2020.
Irawan, Bambang. “Three Dimensional Aspect of a Main Character Mathilde in Guy De Maupassant’s The Necklace.” Morphosis: Journal of Literature, vol. 1, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-7.
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Sari, Yunita. “The Analysis of the Characters in Maupassant’s The Necklace.” English Prose Analysis. From Theories to Practices 1, edited by I Gusti Agung Gde Sosiowati and Ni Luh Nyoman Seri Malini, Cakra Press, 2017, pp. 53-73.
Yadav, Shubham. “Character Analysis of ‘Mathilde Loisel’ in the Maupassant’s “The Necklace””. International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences, vol. 4, no. 3, 2019, pp. 647-649.