Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace”

October 17, 2017 General Studies

Jessica Reuland Essay on “The Necklace” Mathilde Loisel refuses to be happy with her average, middle-class life because she believes she deserves better, which leads her to borrow something she cannot buy, and ultimately dooms her to an even worse life than she started with. In the story “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant communicates his theme that envy and want of better things will blind you to what you have. Mathilde Loisel refuses to be happy with her life as it is.

She is a middle class woman who felt that she should have been born to a more wealthy, distinctive family but instead was “born by a blunder of destiny in a family of employees”. Mathilde “suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury. ” When she watches the little maid doing their housework, all she can do is “let her mind dwell on the large parlors, decked with old silk, with their delicate furniture, supporting precious bric-a-brac, and on the coquettish little rooms…” She doesn’t realize that the life she has come to think of as ‘not good enough’ is the best she will ever have.

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She should have been married to a handsome, well-known man so that she would come to have a place in society but knew it would never happen, so she “let them make a match for her with a little clerk in the Department of Education”. Mr. Loisel is a good man, always gracious, giving and kind but she is never able to appreciate any of what he does for her. He tries his best to make her as comfortable as possible, making sacrifices for her and giving her whatever she asks for that is within their means.

Being unhappy with what she has leads Mathilde to borrow what she cannot afford to buy. One day Mr. Loisel brings his wife an invitation to a party, one that he had “tremendous trouble to get. ” All Mathilde can do is “[throw] the invitation on the table with annoyance”. She doesn’t appreciate the fact that he got them an invitation to a party that she’s always wanted to go to. She feels that because she doesn’t have a gown worthy of the gala, she can’t go and be seen and embarrassed. She cries for this reason and Mr.

Loisel, being the loving husband he’s always been, offer that she may go buy “a proper dress, which would do on other occasions”, and asks how much she would need for it. When Mathilde calculates the exact amount he was saving “to buy a gun and treat himself to a little shooting,” Mr. Loisel gives in and gives her the money for it. Though she gets her dress over her husband getting his gun, she still is not happy. She does not see that he has sacrificed his own happiness for her, and she is still “sad, restless, anxious. She is irritated that she has no jewels to wear with her new dress. Mr. Loisel suggests fresh flowers and “she is not convinced,” so he then suggests borrowing jewels from a rich friend, one whom “she did not want to go and see anymore” because the jealousy that she felt over her life of ease and refinement hurt her soul. Her friend offers Mathilde a box brimming with jewels, pearls and precious stones, but all she can say is, “You haven’t anything else? She, who has no jewels of her own, but now, who has so many at her fingertips, can still not be happy with all that she is being offered. Finally, she finds a diamond necklace wrapped in black satin and “asked, hesitating, full of anxiety: “Can you lend me this, only this? ”” Her friend says she may, and Mathilde “sprang to her friend’s neck, [and] kissed her with ardor,” which she didn’t even do for her husband when he brought home the hard-won invitation.

Mathilde’s attention to nothing but other people’s envy of her and her borrowed riches is what ultimately dooms her. Mathilde and her husband attend the party, Mathilde clad in her new gown and the borrowed necklace. She danced the night away “with delight, with passion, intoxicated with pleasure, thinking of nothing, in the triumph of her beauty, in the glory of her success, in a sort of cloud of happiness made up of all these tributes. ” She floated here until about 4am, when the party began to disperse. To shield her from the cold, Mr.

Loisel “threw over her shoulders the wraps he had brought to go home in, modest garments of everyday life,” Mathilde fled in fear of being seen by the rich women wrapping themselves in fur. She was so busy worrying about thoughts of strangers that she never realized until she and Mr. Loisel entered their flat that the diamond necklace was missing. Though he was thinking “he would have to be at the Ministry at ten o’clock”, Mr. Loisel sacrificed what little time for sleep he had left and went out to look for the lost necklace.

He returned home empty-handed. By the end of the week, they were still empty-handed and “had lost all hope. ” Mr. Loisel knew what would have to be done. To pay for a replacement, he would use the money his father had left to him, signed notes, borrow from friends, dealt with loan sharks, and “compromised the end of his life. ” Finally Mathilde was able to return to her friend, hoping she wouldn’t notice the replacement diamond necklace she was giving back. For the next ten years, Mr. & Mrs.

Loisel paid off their debts. Mathilde “learned the horrible life of the needy…the rough work of a household, the odious labors of a kitchen,” while her husband worked overtime. Now she knew how bad life could get, and how good she did have it before. If Mathilde Loisel had been happy and content with her life as it was, it wouldn’t have fallen to ruin by her greed. In the story, “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant communicates his theme that envy and want of better things will blind you to what you have.


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