Fiction writing is one of the most intriguing pieces of art in literature. Characterization is one of the integral parts of fiction writing. Characterization uses description to create characters that stick in mind. Therefore, when developing a character, the author needs to describe in detail his characters to a level that the characters live in the mind of the reader.
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Guy De Maupassant’s book, the Necklace, translated by Edgar V Robert, is an example of character description in its perfection. He describes his characters with such unalloyed words that leave one feeling as if they know the character. He creates the character’s picture in the readers; mind that id hard to forget.
Using extracts from the necklace, I will focus on Mathilde as my main character to illustrate how one can achieve character portrayal and or development in narrative writing. Mathilde marries Mr. Loisel, who is a clerk in the Ministry of Education.
Mathilde comes out as a character who is a woman blessed with beauty and charm. She is a charming, graceful, and ordinary woman (Jacobs and Roberts, 200). She resigns to a life, which she feels is not adequate for a beauty queen like her. She appears to be unhappy partly because she is a young woman with dreams that are unfulfilled and because of her living conditions.
She dresses as an uncomplicated village girl with nothing fancy to envy. She cannot compare to the elegance and finesse of the working-class women whom she envies. Her clothes are unattractive and impressive, leading to her preference for staying most of the time indoors. She looked shabby in comparison with the rich women.
Her unadorned village girl appearance depicts a woman with broken dreams with no ambition. She is at ease living a poor life with no aspiration of changing it. She has no desire or anything to cheer her up. She yearns for a better life, which she knows she cannot have. She hopes for delicacies and luxuries of the rich which tortured her and left her in despair.
When she goes to the party, we get to meet the real mathilde in her unrestricted character. She is a free spirit content in life she deserves and does not hide that fact. She enjoys herself to a degree that she becomes the desire of all men in the party keep on eyeing her (Jacobs and Roberts, 202).
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At the party, she dresses in a pretty dress worthy four hundred francs with a costume jewelry necklace. She believed it was a diamond necklace. She was stylish, graceful and prettier than anyone else. She could not help but smile and have fun. She was living her lifelong dream. She was very overjoyed living in cloud nine. That was her loveliest night ever.
At this night, she was the undisputed queen, the Cinderella of the night. Her dressing during the part night depicts the other side of mathilde. She is outgoing, smiles often, confident, social and fits seamlessly among the rich without any complications.
Her attitude towards life is scary. She believes she is a woman meant for better things. She has an attitude that is depressing. She is not willing to change things but keeps to herself daydreaming of a life that is not within her reach.
She is emotionally unstable. When her husband brings home invitations to a party, she breaks down into tears. She cries because she has no fancy clothes to wear instead of being cheerful and appreciative to her husband’s effort (Jacobs and Roberts, 201).
When she is at home, she is indifferent, reserved and conservative. Her social life is a mess. She has one friend Mrs. Forrestier whom she later avoids until ten years later when they meet accidentally.
As seen in the party, she is outgoing and confident. The presence of prominent persons in the party does not astound her. If anything she mingles with them as if, she was from their social class. She did not feel out of place at any one time. She dances and chats with administrators who had queued to dance with her.
She is inconsiderate. Although, she went with her husband to the party she enjoys herself without caring what happens to her husband. He sleeps by midnight a sign of boredom while she has fun until four o’clock in the morning. Once she loses the necklace she lets her husband go looking for it even though he is to go to work at seven (Jacobs and Roberts, 203).
She is also irresponsible as she loses the necklace. This costs them a lot that they had even to move to another place. She should have been more careful thus avoiding the problem that encountered them later. They had to pay the debt of replacing the necklace for ten years.
Mathilde is also secretive and dishonesty. She hides the truth from Mrs. Forrestier who is her friend. She even secretly wishes that she does not open the box and discover that the necklace is different. If, she had been honest with her friend then they could have easily replaced the necklace without borrowing. She is also realistic. She realizes things will not change and works hard to make ends meet and pay off the debt they owe.
Mathilde is a naïve native young woman in a rural France setting in the 19th century. She has experienced a life full of hardships and poverty. She transforms from a lady who did nothing to a woman who she scrubs the kitchen with her pink nails. She is a middle class family, jobless illiterate lady, with no prospects or credentials to get her to the rich world.
Mathilde acts disoriented and disinterested because of the life she lives. She had grandiose dreams of getting married to a rich man and achieve all the privileges that come with it. She craves a life full of luxury, prestige, delicacies and comfort. Contrary to her expectations she ends up married to a clerk who can not give her what she desires. She dislikes being poor and everything that reminds her of poverty.
She desires to dress expensively, eat exquisite food at banquets, live in a mansion own expensive jewelry and have a rich life. She wishes to get out of poverty completely.
Her relationship to Mr. Loisel is that of husband and wife. Her relationship with him is normal although sometimes she vends her frustrations on him. Mrs. Forrestier is her friend whom she borrows a necklace.
Later she accepts the situation she is in and supports her husband in repaying the debt they owe. She is content with their life and accepts to live within their means. Even if her husband is not as rich as she could have wished she respects him and lives with through thick and thin. Once she accepted their situation, she also learnt to accept him as he was.
Her relationship with the other poor people is not clear. Though, she dislikes poverty she has not conflicted with anyone because they are poor. She keeps to herself revealing that she hates associating with the poor.
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Her relationship with the rich is paramount. She immediately glows with happiness once she is in their presence. She enjoys herself much more than she ever did with the poor. She acts as if that id where she belongs wholly disregarding her background. She even runs out of the party when it over to avoid going to a poor area after the party. Her moods change once she is out of the party (Jacobs and Roberts, 202).
The character has an internal conflict that makes her unhappy. The life she lives conflicts with the one she desires. She desires a comfortable life but, unfortunately, finds that she is living in poverty. These two inward conflicts play in her mind making her keep on wishing for the other while disregarding what she has.
As witnessed during the party the ways of the rich satisfies and cheers her. She is happy being by the rich even for a few hours more than she has been in her life. In her normal life, she is sulky and frustrated. She always lets her mind wonder to distant horizons imaging what she could have been in the good life.
Mathilde finally overcomes this conflict and accepts her fate. She accepts that things might not change and decides to help her husband in making ends meet. She gets interested in cleaning and doing other household chores. She accepts that she cannot have the luxurious life that she so much desired and settles down. She stops caring on how she appears and as we witness later she has aged while her friend looks young.
Mathilde transforms drastically during the party. She changes from the ordinary girl introduced at the start into a wild, joyful partying girl. She makes up for behavior of losing the necklace by helping in paying for loans used to replace it. She threw herself wholeheartedly for ten years without tiring until they cleared all the debt.
She also changes from being the wishful young girl to a hard working and realistic woman. She is dynamic and industrious. Whereas before she used to daydream of a better life, of luxury and prestige she changes to one of getting things done. She works to get what she wants rather than hoping for a better tomorrow without doing anything to change the present.
Her change is also evident when she meets Mrs. Forrestier after ten years. When she lost the necklace, she was hesitant to admit it to her friend. This time round she has the courage to confront her and tell her the truth. This leads to her discovering that the necklace was not a diamond as she thought but a regular costume necklace.
In the end after accepting her life, mathilde becomes a free woman of her prejudice. She even has time to walk around after working hard.
The Story of the necklace is an epitome of characterization at its best. It exhibits the characters in such a manner that leaves the readers amazed and glued to the narrative. The author describes almost every detail of the character making them alive in the readers’ mind. In every situation requiring description of a character, he does it perfectly and to most readers’ satisfaction.
He portrays characters’ thoughts, actions and words in a capturing manner that is satisfactory. His character plot easily passes for a sensational oral narration. He creates characters that not only reflect the society we live in but also the traits we posses. I would highly recommend this as not only a literature book but also an example of character portrayal and development.
Roberts, Edgar V, and Henry E. Jacobs. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005. Print.