The Selfishness of Mathilde Loisel
In this essay, I will show how the author, Guy De Maupassant,
characterizes Mathilde Loisel as a selfish, greedy, and manipulative person who thought only of herself. I will also show how her selfishness affected other characters in the story.
My first example of Mathilde Loisels selfishness is She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. (p.
133). These sentences show how materialistic Mathilde is and how selfish she is for caring only about gaining these things for herself. She didnt show any care for her husband who despite their humble living,
seemed to be a caring and loving husband who kept a positive attitude about things. She held her love for materialistic objects so high that it consumed her and occupied her mind.
My second example of Mathildes selfishness is Nothing. Only I havent a dress and so I cant go to this party.
Give your invitation to some friend whose wife will be turned out better than I shall (p.134).
Mathilde turns down an invitation that Loisel had gotten to an elegant
party just because she feels that she does not have a fancy, expensive dress to wear. She totally ignores the fact that Loisel went through a lot of trouble to get that invitation and he did so to make her happy. She acted as if his efforts for a waste and that his thoughtfulness was of no use. She is selfishly thinking only of herself and not considering the feelings and efforts of her husband who is selfless.
My third example of Mathildes selfishness is She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the prudent clerk. Finally she replied with some hesitation: I dont know exactly but I think I could do it for four hundred francs (p.134). Mathilde expresses an all or nothing attitude towards going to the party. She manipulates the whole situation with Loisel to the point that he negotiates with her on giving her what she wants so that shell agree to go to the party. Mathilde calculates how much Loisel would be willing to give her to buy a new dress without even thinking about how much of a financial strain it would be for him.
She doesnt stop to wonder if he had that money already set-aside for something. Shes only thinking about what he may be able to give to her without upsetting him. She knows that he really wants her to go so shes taking advantage of that. She once again completely ignores his feelings and thinks only of herself.
My fourth and final example of Mathildes selfishness is Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewelry. You know her quite well enough for that.
She uttered a cry of delight. Thats true. I never thought of it (p.135). In her time of need, Mathilde goes to ask her old friend for jewelry which is selfish because she refused to visit her under normal circumstances. She was just using Madame Mathilde for her own materialistic gain once again as she has done to Loisel.
Obviously, her selfish concept of friendship was based only on her benefiting.
In conclusion, the examples I have cited show that Maupassant characterizes Mathilde Loisel as a selfish person. Mathildes selfishness affected Loisel and Madame Forestier who were both were selfless. In the end, her selfishness ultimately affected herself.