Introduction to Literature
July 16, 2012
Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story
One of the useful aspects of reading a short story is that it often provides a commentary on human nature or the human condition. The writer comments on some aspect of life through the theme of the short story. The theme of a story is simply its meaning; it is the main idea explored in the story by the writer. The theme in Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a situational theme. The main character, Mathilde Loisel, is caught in between appearing irresponsible and self-martyrdom. She chooses the latter the story ends in situational irony.
There are several elements which support the situational irony element of the story. Of the many story motifs, Mathilde’s character and the tone of the story are the main contributors to the ironic twist of the theme. The character of Mathilde has her obsession with the upper class lifestyle and all the amenities. This is demonstrated in the second paragraph as “she was unhappy as though kept out of her own class” and, “She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury.” (Clugston, 2010) The setting contributes to Mathilde’s character as, “She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the worn walls, the abraded chairs, the ugliness of the stuffs.” Mathilde’s constant anxiety about her home “tortured her and made her indignant.” Mathilde complains about her house and lifestyle even though it was decent. The author notes, “All these things, which another woman of her caste would not even have noticed.” (Clugston, 2010) As the story continues, her husband acquires tickets to the ball held at the palace of the Ministry. This is a dream opportunity Mathilde has wanted so badly, but initially she refuses to attend as she claims she has nothing to wear. Her husband generously gives her 400 francs to buy herself a nice dress....