The Necklace is a short story written by French writer Guy de Maupassant at the end of the 19th century. In the story, the main character Mathilde Loisel lives a humble life of a middle-class housewife believing that she is meant to be rich. She borrows a diamond necklace from a rich woman, Madame Forestier, to wear for a ball. She loses the necklace forcing her family to go into debt for ten years to pay for a replacement. The story ends with a twist, as Mathilde finds out after paying off all debts that the necklace was an imitation and hardly cost 400 francs. The present paper is an attempt to analyze Mathilde’s dualistic character describing the morals a reader can receive from her story.
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Mathilde’s Character Development
Mathilde Loisel is described as a young woman suffering from the idea that she was born to live a rich life. Even though she has a faithful husband who does everything he can to make her wife happy, she fails to acknowledge the matter. Madame Loisel spends most of her free time daydreaming of things that most women of her class do not know. As Kuhn (2016) points out, Mathilde becomes a princess in her mind leading to her further downfall.
While paying off the debts for the lost necklace she goes through even more suffering and becomes “like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households” (Maupassant, n.d., p. 5). One would think that losing money, social status, and a comfortable lifestyle would make a person grow more mature; however, that does not seem to be the case with Mathilde.
Even after living ten years in poverty, the protagonist of The Necklace continues escaping reality dreaming about the life of a rich woman. This fact represents the character’s duality, as even though Mathilde develops on the outside, inside she is still delusional and lives her fantasies. Her failure to learn and acknowledge the reality makes Mathilde a serious and ridiculous woman at the same time. Maupassant’s protagonist may seem a dynamic character, as she grows more mature and can bear with more trouble than at the beginning of the story. However, she is flat and static, as she does not learn from life’s lessons and continues to be an envious and shallow woman wasting her time daydreaming.
Morals of the Story
The morals a reader can receive from the short story are numerous and deep. According to Nurmalasari and Samanik (2018), envy is the driving force of the story, and “we need to be happy with what we have and be grateful with our life” (p. 449). Indeed, if Mathilde did not try to be what she was not, there would be no further complications. However, the story also discusses the problem of pride, as Mathilde and her husband do not try to explain the situation to Madame Forestier.
They are too proud to admit their deed and jump to the conclusion that ruins their lives. Even though this may seem to be Mathilde’s misjudgment, it is a problem of her husband as he failed to analyze the matter and come to a sensible solution. In short, the story teaches the audience to value what they have and not to let their pride take over common sense.
In The Necklace, Maupassant creates realistic characters that face real-world problems. The protagonist is filled with envy and pride while dreaming of a life that she cannot have. Her story teaches the reader to live within their means and learning from life’s lessons.
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Kuhn, G. (2016). Exploring French short stories: Guy de Maupassant’s writing style and social justice. Web.
Nurmalasari, U.,& Samanik. (2018). A study of social stratification in France in 19th century as portrayed in the necklace ‘La Parure’ short story by Guy de Maupassant. In 2nd English Language and Literature International Conference (ELLiC) Proceedings (pp. 445-449). Web.
Maupassant, G. (n.d.). The Necklace. Web.