M. Loisel is the "little clerk in the Department of Education" (1) to whom Mathilde's family marries Mathilde off. Mathilde herself, as we're quick to find out, isn't terribly happy about her middle-class husband. She hates the shabby "averageness" of their life, and is miserable being cooped up in their apartment all day, dreaming of the luxurious life she wants to be leading. M. Loisel, on the other hand, seems quite happy with their situation. Unlike Mathilde, he enjoys his life as it is, especially that good old homemade pot-au-feu (stew):
When she sat down to dine, before a tablecloth three days old, in front of her husband, who lifted the cover of the tureen, declaring with an air of satisfaction, "Ah, the good pot-au-feu. I don't know anything better than that," she was thinking of delicate repasts, with glittering silver, with tapestries peopling the walls with ancient figures and with strange birds in a fairy-like forest… (4)
Yes, M. Loisel appreciates the little things. He also seems devoted to his wife. After all, he goes to all that trouble to get her the invitation to a fancy party, which he couldn't care less about himself (he sleeps through it). He sacrifices the hunting rifle he's spent months saving up for so Mathilde can buy a dress for the ball. And when she loses the necklace, he's the one who goes all over the city searching for it. Most importantly, M. Loisel spends his life's savings replacing it.
So M. Loisel seems like the simple, happy, good guy in the story, a foil for his perpetually dissatisfied wife. They make the classic unhappy bourgeois couple, in other words. But you can wonder about two things… Mme. Jeanne Forestier
Mme. Jeanne Forestier is wealthy. That's basically all you need to know. She's the rich friend: the person you turn to when you need something absolutely fabulous to wear to that ball next weekend but don't have the money to buy anything...