It tells the tale of a dissatisfied middle-class woman whose dreams of wealth and glamour end in disaster.
Mathilde Loisel is middle class woman and has a kind husband. However, she is cooped up in the house all day with nothing to do, and her days are marked with boredom beyond belief. Her only way out of dealing with it is to live in a fantasy world of glamour, wealth, and beautiful people.
Does that situation really seem all that far-removed from today? In many ways, the figure of the dissatisfied housewife is just as relevant now as it was then. Just like Maupassant's contemporaries, we're still fascinated by it, perhaps because we're troubled by it. And can't we all relate in some way to Mathilde's desire to live a more exciting, glamorous life, even if we can only do it in daydreams?
The Necklace Summary
At the beginning of the story, we meet Mathilde Loisel, a middle-class girl who desperately wishes she were wealthy. She's got looks and charm, but had the bad luck to be born into a family of clerks, who marry her to another clerk (M. Loisel) in the Department of Education. Mathilde is so convinced she's meant to be rich that she detests her real life and spends all day dreaming and despairing about the fabulous life she's not having. She envisions footmen, feasts, fancy furniture, and strings of rich young men to seduce.
One day M. Loisel comes home with an invitation to a fancy ball thrown by his boss, the Minister of Education. M. Loisel has gone to a lot of trouble to get the invitation, but Mathilde's first reaction is to throw a fit. She doesn't have anything nice to wear, and can't possibly go! How dare her husband be so insensitive? M. Loisel doesn't know what to do, and offers to buy his wife a dress, so long as it's not too expensive. Mathilde asks for 400 francs, and he agrees. It's not too long before Mathilde throws another fit, though, this time because she has no jewels. So M. Loisel suggests she go see her friend