Gustave Flaubert taught Guy De Maupassant how to write. Flaubert’s teaching principles said that the writer should look at all things to see and express some aspect. This gives the reader a fresh or different perspective (Charters header 523). Kate Chopin (861) stated that Maupassant was a “writer who had entered into himself” and saw the world through his eyes. His “realistic fiction” was a major influence on writers (Charters, “Brief History”, 998). “The Necklace”, a 19th-century literary realist period story, was written. The story “everyday events and lives of middle/lower class people” is the focus of the story. (Agatucci 4)
The story’s plot and characters are what help us understand the meaning of “The Necklace”. Maupassant stated the story was not just entertainment. He said it is a tool “to make people think and to make them understand the deep, hidden meanings of events” (896). The theme of “The Necklace,” to me, shows the importance and joy of being honest with yourself. It shows us that there are many things that can make a person happy, and money does not necessarily solve all their problems. Donald Adamson described Mathilde as “poor, but honest” and I disagree. Mathilde’s dishonesty leads to her discovering “the horrible existence for the needy” (Maupassant, 528). Mathilde, a poor and selfish wife to a “little secretary”, is told in “The Necklace” as a story about her desire for a wealthy, luxurious lifestyle that would allow her to be “envied” and happy (Maupassant,” “Necklace”, 524) Mathilde is constantly driven by her inner conflict. M. Loisel her husband is dedicated to Mathilde and wants to make her happy despite all he has to endure. He is thrilled to receive an invitation to a ball, which was “awful trouble to obtain”, but he also eagerly returns it to his wife (525). Mathilde is unable to imagine going to the ball in a dress she has just had made so she borrows Mme. Forestier (526). Mathilde’s day at the ball was everything she had hoped for, but Mathilde loses her necklace. Mathilde, M. Loisel, and Mathilde both end up searching for a replacement necklace. However, Mathilde discovers that it was not a necklace made of diamonds but rather a piece of costume jewellery (Charters). Maupassant gives a detailed character portrait of Mathilde (Adamson) in “The Necklace.” Mathilde is a conflict-prone person. Mathilde feels too successful for the life she has chosen. She’s unhappy with her life and wants to be someone else. M. Loisel however, is content to go home to his wife to enjoy a tasty and economic meal. Mathilde, who is materialistic and believes wealth would end her sufferings, won’t visit a wealthy friend or “former student at the convent”. She is so jealous of others and envious.
Mathilde gets the invitation. Mathilde cannot see herself in her old dresses and is now more conflicted. Mathilde’s tears are so bittersweet that M. Loisel decides “quickly to sacrifice his savings” in order to purchase a new dress for her (Smith). Mathilde isn’t content with a dress. It would be disgrace for her to not wear jewelry to the ball. Maupassant 526. She cannot “look poor” among rich women. So, she borrows Mme. Forestier (526). Maupassant convincingly convinces the reader that this necklace is genuine diamonds. This sets the stage for the thrilling climax, when Mathilde accidentally loses her necklace on her return from the ball. M. Loisel retorts, and he goes to search for it. Mathilde tells him to lie to Mathilde if he doesn’t find it. Forestier tells Forestier that the necklace has been damaged and that it will be repaired over time. Mathilde could have been honest and told Mathilde that the necklace was broken. Forestier would’ve told Mathilde that the necklace only cost “paste…worth at least five hundred francs” (530). They instead found a replacement necklace that cost thirty-six thousands francs. M. Loisel was “five years old” by the time he returned the necklace to her friend Mathilde. He had to borrow money to pay for the replacement necklace and borrow his inheritance. Mathilde was horrified to learn of the “horribleexistence of the poor” (528). Mathilde left her flat and “dismissed his servant”. Mathilde was a “woman from impoverished homes – strong, hard and rough” (529). She had to fight for their “miserable money” (529). They had to wait ten years before they could pay all their debts. Mathilde had lost her charm and was no longer charming.
These trials represent the fall of the story. The conflict is moving toward a resolution (Charters and “Elements” 1005). Donald Adamson and Guy De Maupassant use the term “hero” to describe Mme. Loisel may have been heroic but it is not what I feel. She was simply fulfilling her duties, which she believed she was not good enough for. I don’t believe dishonesty makes a hero. Mathilde could have been open with Mme. She would have told Forestier straight away about the loss of her necklace. Mathilde may be praised for being heroic in that she accepted responsibility and gave up her life to pay the debt. It was admirable she didn’t expect her husband to shoulder the burden. The surprise element in “The Necklace” is evident. Mathilde discovers this necklace was made of imitation gems and not diamonds. Mathilde makes this shocking discovery, leaving many unanswered.
Maupassant uses a limited omniscient narrative to describe Mathilde. She is a flexible character who can choose alternative solutions to situations (Charters, “Elements”, 1007). Mathilde can be both dynamic and static, according to me. Mathilde is dynamic because she undergoes significant changes and assumes the role of a poor housewife. She remains static because she still dreams of that “gay, beautiful evening long ago” (Maupassant’s “Necklace”) M. Loisel, Mathilde’s husband, is also a “play-and-pull” character. This can be seen in the story (Charters, “Elements”, 1007). Mathilde gets upset by the invitation and offers to buy her another dress. Mme. Forestier is a good place to borrow jewelry for her if she needs it. Forestier takes the money and replaces the necklace when Forestier loses it. M. Loisel experiences some change but he remains static. He seems content and happy throughout the story. Mathilde remains his focus and he works hard. The story is full of themes from “The Necklace”. Mathilde should have been sincere with Mme. Forestier could have saved the day if she had been more honest with Mme. The reader is shown that honesty is best. Maupassant warns readers about the dangers of vanity. Mathilde did not need to wear a necklace made of diamonds. She was worried about how others would view her. The fake diamond necklace shows that not everything is as it seems, even though Mme. Forestier looked wealthy but she could have chosen or only been able afford to wear costume jewelry. “The Necklace,” I believe, serves to remind us all that it doesn’t matter how rich we are or what material possessions we have.