Published in 1884, Guy de Maupassant’s short story with the ambiguous title “The Necklace” is an excellent example of a work with an unexpected ending that forces the reader to rethink the artistic narrative. Along with the psychological issues of the conflict of desires and opportunities, the instability of human spiritual organization, and the profound misery caused by unfulfilled dreams, the writer also raised the problem of social inequality. Thus, the textual analysis of “The Necklace” clarifies that the development of the plot and the novel’s central message is tied to Marxism’s ideas, which divide societies into isolated classes. This essay aims to define and conceptualize Marxist views in this literary work.
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Without seeking to evaluate Karl Marx’s multivolume work qualitatively, it is essential to filter out a few central ideas that can generally describe the economic development model quite qualitatively. In the first place, the researcher stated that the economic system ultimately determines an individual’s way of life and the environment in which they are raised (Brock). In “The Necklace,” this pattern provides the foundation for character development: the protagonist Mathilde “dressed plainly because she could not afford fine clothes” (Maupassant 1). No matter how much she would like to, she cannot go beyond the environment in which she lives because the era’s economic stage predetermines her to do so.
The Desire for Change
Another distinctive feature of Marxism is the desire for classes to interact, expressed in the class struggle. “The Necklace” did not describe acts of revolution or open conflict between members of different strata of society, but it illustrated Mathilde’s inner passion for shifting formations. The woman had nothing that could be seen as of value to her, and she wanted it. While Mathilde “grieved over the shabbiness of her apartment,” she dreamed madly of “silent chambers, draped with Oriental tapestries and lighted by tall bronze floor lamps” (Maupassant 1). These quotations unambiguously reflect the working class’s desire for wealth and survival tools, which are probably not even a necessity. Through her husband’s efforts, fate offered Mathilde a powerful social elevator that could help her realize a lifelong dream. Furthermore, according to Marx, the woman needed a resource that distinguished the proletariat from the aristocrats for such a transition.
The Symbolism of the Necklace
Such a resource was the necklace after which Novella was named. As the jewel that attracted Mathilde’s attention, the necklace gave the woman inner strength and confidence and seemed to have made the protagonist happier than ever. The irony is that the necklace turned out to be cheap fiction, for the return of which the ignorant Mathilde gave up ten years of her young life, living in poverty and destitution. Guy de Maupassant deliberately placed the character in such frustrating conditions to see how the woman full of inner conflicts would behave if given the opportunity. In this sense, the necklace is more than just a piece of jewelry. The necklace symbolizes the money, power, and resources that elevate aristocrats above the working class. Furthermore, the hard work and tenacity with which Mathilde worked to repay her debt — “heavy housework,” “hateful duties,” “scouring the grease,” and “scrubbed dirty linen” — define the destiny of the proletarians (Maupassant 5). As Marx argued, such people have only to work and toil to enrich the already rich.
To summarize, it must be recognized that a literary analysis of Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” shows signs of Marx’s theory that divides society into economically unequal classes. The existence of the protagonist of the story, Mathilde, is predetermined by the framework of the working class. At the same time, she experiences a permanent personal experience concerning her desire to move into the rich and powerful class. The necklace, symbolizing resources, power, and finances, became the tools in the woman’s hands for the transition. Nevertheless, the novel does not have a happy ending, as Maupassant sneers at the proletarian, placing him in a Marxist frame of being from which there is no escape.
Brock, Thomas. “Marxism.” Investopedia, 2021. Web.
de Maupassant, Guy. “The Necklace.” Susannah Fullerton Foundation, 2019. Web.
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