Jealousy and envy are among the greatest of sins and have been the down
fall of many. Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is the story of a woman who is
overcome with jealousy and envy. Mathilde Loisel feels she has been cheated by
life from all of the wonderful things it has to offer. The reader learns how
these qualities in Mme.
Loisel come back to haunt her for many years as the
story unfolds with an ironic ending.
Mathilde Loisel, as the main character of the story, is truly believable.
She is described as “one of those pretty and charming girls who are sometimes,
born into a family of clerks”(900). The author describes how she suffers from
her lifestyle of being middle-class. There is a stereotypical “rich man, poor
man” quality as Mme. Loisel longs for the material things that her old
Forester has. The physical appearance of the characters as well
as their actions, thought, and emotions are very detailed throughout the story.
The main character’s life, as well as her husband’s, takes a dramatic turn and
the author describes the physical and emotional changes in great detail.
The story’s title does not signify the theme however, the theme of the
story is reiterated throughout the story. “She had no dresses, no jewels,
nothing. And she loved nothing but that; she felt made for that.
She would so
have liked to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after”(900).
Mme. Loisel was envious of her friend and anyone else who had more than what she
had. She felt that she deserved these things.
The plot grows completely out of the personalities of the characters. As
the story opens, Mme.
Loisel’s husband comes home with an invitation to a ball
at the palace. He had hoped that this invitation would lift Mme. Loisel’s
spirits but it had an opposite effect. She insisted that she could not go
because she had nothing to wear. Mme. Loisel’s husband reluctantly gave her the
money he had been saving for a gun so she could buy a “suitable” dress.
Mme. decided that she would rather not go than go without jewelry. Her husband
suggested that she borrow a piece from her friend, Mme. Forestier. Mme.
Forestier allowed Mme.
Loisel to borrow “a superb necklace of diamonds”(902).
Mathilde Loisel had a wonderful time at the ball. “She danced with
intoxication, with passion, made drunk by pleasure, forgetting all, in the
triumph of her beauty, in the glory of her success, in a sort of cloud of
happiness composed of all this homage, of all this admiration, of all these
awakened desires, and of that sense of complete victory which is so sweet to a
woman’s heart”(902). Upon arriving home, Mme. Loisel realized that the
wonderful necklace she borrowed from Mme. Forestier was gone! Mathilde and her
husband looked everywhere but could not find the necklace.
Mathilde called Mme.
Forestier and told her that she had broken the clasp of the necklace and was
having it fixed for her. The next day, Mme. Loisel and her husband bought a
necklace to replace the one she had lost for thirty-six thousand francs. Buying
the necklace was not a simple process for the couple. They borrowed a great sum
of money from several different people and they both took on several jobs.
came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the
kitchen”(904-905). “And dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the
fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, her basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted,
defending her miserable money sou by sou”(905). After ten long years of hard
work, they finally finished paying their debts. Mathilde wondered what life
would have been like if she had not lost the necklace. “How little a thing is
needed for us to be lost or to be saved”(905).
The climax of the story comes when one day, Mme.
Loisel was taking a walk
and saw Mme. Forestier. She called out to Mme. Forestier, but she insisted that
she did not know Mme. Loisel. “Mme.
Loisel looked old now. She had become the
woman of impoverished households – strong and hard and rough”(905). When
Mathilde told her who she was, Mme. Forestier replied, “Oh, my poor Mathilde!
How you are changed!”(905). It had been such a long time and Mathilde had been
working her fingers to the bone to pay .