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Literary Elements

By brittanydb88 Feb 25, 2013 712 Words
Literary Elements

Literary Elements

The following paper will discuss how symbolism and characters relate and contribute to the overall theme behind the story, “The Necklace.” Those symbols and characters suggest that just because something is perceived to be beautiful and worthy, that deception could be the reality.

The theme of a story is basically the idea behind the story (Clugston 2010). In Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” the theme could be concluded as being the idea that appearances are deceptive. For most people, appearances are the most important aspects in life. Social stature, wealth, and physical appearances can conflict with a person in regards to importance as seen by one ’s self and by others leading to deception. In the story Madame Loisel perceives herself as something she is not. She believes that she should be that of wealthy and lavished with material items. In reality she is of the middle class coming from a family of employees, not rich at all. To her, material items, looks, and social status are what make a person “wealthy.” The fact of having a loving husband, a comfortable home, and dinner on the table is of no importance because she does not have the diamonds, furs, or the extravagant house, which to her are the most important aspects of life.

A symbol is something that has literal meaning, but stands for something else (Clugston 2010). Symbolism is used numerous times in the story. When Matilde visits her friend that she envies, she is told to look through what seemed to be the most luxurious box housing numerous expensive pieces of jewelry. She did not realize that the box, in fact, housed a worthless piece of deception. Madame Loisel had a hard time deciding which would be the most affective when flaunting her so-called beauty at the party containing all the higher class people. The one that radiated the most was the one that best suited her. She was ignorant of the fact that such an appearance could be as deceptive as the appearance she would display in the crowd.

The necklace itself symbolizes the true meaning of deceptive appearances. It shimmers and shines and changes in the story. That change goes unnoticed by Madame Forestier. It changes from worthless to precious and that suggests that the true value of something only depends on the perception of the appearance. Those perceptions and appearances can be easily deceivable. For Madame Loisel, the appearance of a diamond necklace from a box containing numerous pieces of jewelry was precious and can only be seen as such.

Characterization is used in the story by the author to describe the overall appearance of Madame Loisel and her thoughts and feelings about her appearance and her thoughts on the appearances of others. She is described as being a beautiful woman on the outside, but not as beautiful on the inside, adding to the theme of deceptive appearances. Her appearance at the party seems like that of higher class being she is wearing a nice dress with an “expensive” piece of jewelry. She is noticed by many while socializing and dancing forgetting about the reality that waits for her in the other room. Being unappreciative of what she has makes her beautiful appearance deceivable because beauty if more than just physical appearance. Her actions lead to harsh results that make her poor in physical appearance and assets.

The characters and symbols in the story contribute to the theme in ways of defining the true meaning of deceptive appearances. The appearance of the jewelry box is illustrated as giving the jewelry a sense of richness. The necklace is viewed as a source of power and gives the main character feelings of higher self-worth even though it is worthless. Madame Loisel is a beautiful woman at the beginning of the story, but the readers know the lack of true beauty she has. She tries to mislead the higher class with her appearance after buying the new dress and borrowing the diamond necklace. This in turn leads to her misfortune and leaves the audience in shock when the truth about the necklace is brought to light.


Clugston, R.,W. 2010. Journey into literature. Retrieved from:


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