Consider the Ways in Which the Author Presents Mathilde as a Selfish, Self-Absorbed Woman.

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  • Topic: The Necklace
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Consider the ways in which the author presents Mathilde as a selfish, self-absorbed woman.

‘The necklace begins with a short paragraph describing Madame Mathilde Loisel, and her character. Though she was, ‘Pretty and charming’, Mathilde and her husband, a junior clerk, are not very well off financially, and therefore the couple live a modest lifestyle. Mathilde’s selfish desires of a life of ‘refinement and luxury’, with servants and extravagant living conditions are somewhat alien to her simple routine and lifestyle. Ashamed of her low social standing, Mathilde no longer visits an old friend, who has become rich and wealthy. The author’s description of Mathilde would make her appear discontented with she had, and therefore immediately portrays a bad impression about Madame Loisel to the reader. However, this is only the start of the author’s distasteful view upon Madame Loisel’s attitude. The author describes the Loisel’s living conditions; describing the peeling wallpaper and battered chairs. The author puts emphasis on how Mathilde’s home was so far away from what she felt she was ‘intended’ for. The author writes how it “was torture to her and made her very angry.” The use of the word ‘angry’ helps the reader to understand Madame Loisel’s pure frustration; as if she can’t possible fathom how she had found herself in such a low social standing. The author portrays Mathilde’s ungratefulness as an ugly, selfish obsession. The author creates this impression by using vocabulary such as: unhappy, torture, angry, regret, etc. By using this sort of vocabulary to describe Mathilde, it sets an impression on her of which is selfish and self-absorbed. The author would suggest that Mathilde’s husband, Monsieur Loisel, was grateful, and didn’t mind to be at his social level. The author portrays this point to the reader when he describes Loisel’s reaction to a humble peasants dish placed before him. Loisel exclaims, “Ah! Stew! Splendid! There’s nothing I like better than a nice stew...” This expresses to the reader that Loisel of whom is living in the same conditions and shares the same things as Mathilde is grateful for everything he has, and isn’t too proud to have what he knows he can afford. The comparison the author therefore presents between Monsieur Loisel and his wife would make Mathilde’s ideas and fantasies of an extravagant lifestyle seem greedy and self-absorbed, only thinking of her own needs and desires. The description of Monsieur Loisel’s behaviour makes the reader take favour on his attitude, as opposed to Mathilde’s greedy nature. “She dreamed of silent antechambers hung with oriental tapestries, lit by tall, bronze candelabras, and of two tall footmen in liveried breeches asleep in the huge armchairs, dozing in the heavy heat of a stove. She dreamed of great drawing-rooms dressed with old silk, filled with fine furniture which showed off trinkets beyond price, and of pretty little parlours, filled with perfumes and just made for intimate talk at five in the afternoon with one’s closest friends who would be the most famous and sought-after men of the day whose attentions were much coveted and desired by all women.”

The in-depth and detailed description stated above of Mathilde’s dreams, express to the reader that she had thought about her ultimate lifestyle for many years. Madame Loisel had built an intimate fantasy world that she felt she was intended for. This would suggest that Mathilde was not just unhappy with her life, but her life was always distracted by her selfish, extravagant dreams.

When Monsieur Loisel brings home a highly sought-after invitation to a fine reception, Mathilde’s reaction is shocking. Expecting his wife to be elated with the opportunity to experience her dream lifestyle for one night, Monsieur Loisel is let down greatly when Mathilde “tossed the invitation peevishly onto the table.” Furthermore Mathilde mutters: “What earthly use is this to me?” Mathilde’s reaction is...
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