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The Umbrella

By puttuthakur Apr 19, 2013 604 Words
Madame Oreille is a woman not to be trifled with, especially when it comes to money. In less delicate terms, she is a modern-day cheapskate. Never spends a single penny she doesn’t have to, and even then, she can never justify the loss in her own mind. One day, one of her worst nightmares comes true—her husband demands she buy him a new umbrella, and not just any kind will do. He wants one made out of silk. “The Umbrella” by Guy de Maupassant is a quirky story about a woman’s pet peeve and her plan of compensation that goes a bit over the edge. Madame Oreille is appalled when her husband requests the umbrella. The protests the matter of his dignity (the one he has is worn and patched) but she refuses to see reason. The umbrella he wants costs eighteen pounds—it’s simply out of the question. But when he persists, she gives in and buys the umbrella, making him promise to take care of it. After the first day he takes it to work, Madame examines it only to find a hole in the silk covering When she questions her husband, he claims he knows nothing about it. The next day, she conducts another examination and finds the silk umbrella full of holes! Now very angry, she goes to her husband, who is still as confused as ever. However, after they consider the problem together, they conclude that the holes have been burned with cigarette ash. A friend later advises them that they might acquire the money for its repair or even replacement from their fire insurance. Jumping at the chance to take back her precious lost pounds, Madame Oreille takes the umbrella to her insurer’s office the next day—with a plan. A plan that works, surprising everyone, even Madame herself. “The Umbrella” by Guy de Maupassant is a humorous anecdote with strong emphasis on character. The story begins with a description of Madame Oreille’s spending habits, emphasizing this point to the reader as one of importance. When she must buy the umbrella, her personality comes into play because the request is foil to her nature. When she finds the umbrella damaged and has to fix it, her personality also comes into play because this is the point in the plot where her cheap, greedy ways prove useful. In fact, for the sake of taking back her precious eighteen pounds, she reveals a darker, more conniving side. To make sure her insurer will give her the money, she cooks up the perfect little lie about a dropped candlestick and burns the umbrella herself to match. In a way, the story seems to be an author’s comment on the stereotypical housewife: some dumb and submissive, others rather shrill in their dim-wittedness, refusing to see reason. Madame Oreille is clearly one of the latter type. In plot and characterization, “The Umbrella” is definitely a period piece, but the language is simple and easily understood for all readers. However, some of the piece’s humor might be lost to a less advanced group. In a phrase, this short story is a simple delight: a welcome break from the classic works of “required reading” people have come to know. “The Umbrella” by Guy de Maupassant is a humorous tale of a proper man, his cheapskate wife, and the silk-covered piece of metal that caused all their trouble. In the end, readers see that the umbrella does more than keep out the rain. It lets readers find out if a miser of a woman is really as high-strung as she seems

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