Materialism is the belief that comfort, pleasure, and wealth are the most desirable things in life. Do you agree?
I do not agree that comfort, pleasure, and wealth are the most desirable things in life. All of these things are fickle and have temporary value. Focusing only on them blinds the person to other, much more lasting values and ways to contentment.
The short story “The Necklace”, by the French writer Guy de Maupassant, is an example of the hollow search for happiness through materialism. The main character, Madame Mathilde Loisel, desires aristocracy and the associated wealth and is unable to perceive being content without it. “All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry” (Maupassant 31). While her husband is a man of simple needs, gleefully enjoying the simpler things that come his way, he is unable to share in this happiness with her.
Over the course of the story we get to see how he attempts to make her happy with the means that are available to him, and selflessly gives up everything he has in the effort to satisfy her desire for a temporary similitude of aristocratic wealth. However, Mathilde’s focus on materialism brings her only displeasure, as she laments that “there’s nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich”, and can never have enough (Maupassant 33).
In the end, we see that the Loisels have squandered their comfortable lives for that one night of materialistic comfort for Mathilde, which she still spoiled for herself at the end by focusing on the little things that she didn’t like. It happened just the same with every other good thing that has come her way over the course of the story. The final conversation with her friend, who provided the eponymous necklace, shows just how shallow and fake the materialistic approach to life, is. Same as the fake glass necklace, materialism offers an appearance of grandeur, but at the cost of things of genuine worth in the person’s life. The evening of glamor cost her and husband ten years of debt, poverty, and misfortune.
Maupassant, Guy De. “The Necklace.” The Necklace and Other Short Stories. Mineola: Courier Corporation, 2012. 31-38. Print.