Symbolism in Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace"

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Hayley Hughes
Professor Fowler
English 1102
9 February 2013
Short Story Essay
Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” uses a diamond necklace to symbolize two different things. The first thing the necklace represents is that deceiving others will lead to one’s downfall. The necklace also symbolizes how the effects of greed can change a person. In the story, the reader sees the main character’s personal growth from beginning to end due to losing a diamond necklace. Mathilde Loisel’s life is turned upside down because she was materialistic, but by the end of the story Mathilde is wiser and more admirable. Mathilde changed in ways that could not have been possible had she not lost the necklace.

The story opens with the beautiful Mathilde Loisel fantasizing about luxuries she and her husband cannot afford. When her husband comes home with an invitation to an exclusive party, she is upset because she does not have anything fancy to wear. Even after her husband gives her some money for a dress, she then complains about not having jewelry. Since she does not own any expensive jewlery, Mathilde goes to her friend Madame Forestier and borrows a diamond necklace. She absolutely loves the necklace and when she and her husband attend the party, everyone notices her and the necklace. After they return from the party, Mathilde is sees she has lost the necklace. However, instead of telling Madame Forestier that the necklace had been lost, Mathilde buys a replacement necklace worth 40,000 francs and gives that to her friend hoping she would not see the difference. She and her husband then spend the next ten years working to pay for the cost of the necklace only to find out that the original necklace had been a fake. Even though her hardship could have been avoided completely, Mathilde became a better person from of losing the necklace.

The necklace is the main symbol in “The Necklace.” What is a symbol? According to Literature: An Introduction to Reading...
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