The Necklace: the Development of Irony

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"The Necklace": The Development of Irony

by Kimberly Ednie
Mrs. Connolly
ENC 1102 M-W-F 9:00AM
Short Story Essay
January 29, 1997

Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace" is situational irony written in 1884. The story was written in a time when there were very distinct social classes primarily determined by one's birth. It is about a woman who can not come to terms with her position in the middle class. Although she knows she can not escape her class, she refuses to accept it gracefully. It is through Matilde that Maupassant develops the story's irony. This is reflected through Matilde's daydreaming, which only serves to torment her, the loss of the necklace borrowed for show, which only worsens their economic position, and finally, their unnecessary sacrifice.

The irony begins with Matilde's frequent daydreaming. She is a beautiful and charming woman who feels "herself destined for all delicacies and luxuries" (4). Fate, however, placed her among the middle class where life was very simple. For her, the only means to a more affluent class was through her imagination. She dreams of "large silent anterooms, expensive silks and of achievement and fame that would make her the envy of all other women" (4). What she fails to realize is that these daydreams only make her more dissatisfied with her real life. As a result, she becomes more focused on what she does not have rather than what she does have.

Contributing to the irony is the borrowed necklace. Matilde's husband brings a coveted dinner invitation home, and her first reaction is concern for appearances. She tells her husband that they can not possibly go because she has "nothing to wear" (5). Her husband agrees to buy her a new dress. This, however, is not enough for Matilde; she needs jewelry. She explains that, without jewelry, she will appear "shabby in the company of rich women" (6). In her quest to present herself as a wealthy woman, she decided to borrow a...
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