By Guy De Maupassant
In The Necklace, by Guy De Maupassant uses materialism, conflict and character to show how some people are never satisfied with what they have and always wanting more no matter at what cost. The story focuses on two main characters, Mathilde a very materialistic person and her husband, a clerk who is not wealthy by any means but makes enough money to get by. Mathilde is a very selfish person in the story and abuses the love that her husband has for her to try to satisfy her selfish needs. Her husband is a simple clerk who enjoys the simpler things in life.
Mathilde believes she was born in to the wrong class. Her middle class marriage was not up to her standards. Her wardrobe was too simple in her opinion and this was not satisfactory in her eyes. Mathilde did not posses any good jewelry unlike her old school friend Madame Forester. One night her husband brought home an invitation for a dinner at The Ministry of Public. Instead of being exited and looking forward with spending an evening with her husband and in a high society environment in which she believes she belongs. Her only concern is her appearance and what other people might think about her. This is reflected by the author where Loisel states, “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” The only response from Mathilde is, “Nothing. Only I have no dress and there for I can’t go to the ball. Give your card to some colleague whose wife is better equipped than I.” This is a reflection of how materialistic Mathilde is and how she sees
her self in comparison to her friend Madame Forester and her own surroundings.
Another critical element in this story is Mathilde’s conflict with in her self. After loosing Madame Foresters diamond necklace and Loisel’s unsuccessful attempt to find it. Mathilde is faced with the realization to admit to Madame Forester that she had lost the diamond necklace or to listen to Loisels advice and stall. By lying and deceiving Madame Forester to protect her integrity and friendship. Mathilde made the decision to take Loisel’s advice to stall and the author describes it by, “You must write to your friend,” that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. That will give us time to turn round.” Another description of Mathilde internal conflict is the loss of her self. The deceit of the necklace triggered a chain reaction which caused her to loose her only asset which was her beauty. By having to let all the help go she had to do the housework. This made her hands age and her beauty fade. Madame Forester sees her ten years later and does not recognize and states, “Oh, my poor Mathilde! How you are changed!”
Mathilde can be characterized as unkind cold hearted selfish woman, whose arrogance leads to her downfall. Mathilde shows no compassion towards her loving husband whose mission in life is to make her happy. Any attempt her husband makes to make her happy, she turns around and wants more. Her husband Loisel gave her money to buy a dress. When the day of the ball neared she sad again, Loisel enquired why and
she answered: “It annoys me not to have a single jewel, not a single stone, nothing to put on. I shall look like distress.” Nothing seems ever good enough for her. This kind of character one can argue is the character of an unhappy person with low self esteem. She does not believe in herself enough to see that appearance in clothing and jewelry does not make a person.
“The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant is a fascinating story with an ironic twist. Mathilde selfish ways and loss of the necklace leads her to a point in life which she most feared. Scrounging for money to repay the borrowed necklace she has to do housework and reduce the type of clothes she wears. Her selfish behavior does not only affect her but also drags the one person down with her, Loisel who always loved her unconditionally. All this because the dress her husband bought her was not good enough. After ten years she comes to find out that the borrowed necklace was not a real diamond necklace. The irony behind this fact will lead the reader to think and reflect on their own life and maybe give a second thought if a material item is necessary. This story also tells us to face the truth and not to lie instead face the consequences. A lie that might seem an easy way out may have worse consequences than facing the truth.
De Maupassant, Guy. “The Necklace.” The Story and Its Writer. Ann Charters.
Boston, MA: Stratford Publishing Services, 2007. Page 838-844.