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The Nacklace Essay

1351 words - 6 pages

“The Necklace” Literary Analysis
In the short story “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant uses literary devices such as situational irony and symbolism in order to effectively convey the theme of deceptiveness of appearances. Mathlide Loisel, who was born in a family of clerks and desires to be a member of the elite class, blames the mistake of destiny for her place in society. She longs to live a life of leisure and luxury, but this urge to appear wealthy ultimately makes her and her husband worse of financially than they were before. With the use of irony, Maupassant illustrates how excessive pride can mangle and deteriorate the lives of people who obsess over wealth and physical appearances. ...view middle of the document...

Mathilde’s husband brings a dinner invitation home addressed to Mathilde, but instead of being thankful, she “threw the invitation on the table with disdain” saying “And what do you want me to put on my back?” (Maupassant 555) She complains to her husband that she has nothing fancy to wear and that she needs a dress. Her husband gives her four hundred francs, the amount of money he was saving to buy himself a gun, so that she could feel pretty and wealthy for one night. The fancy dress is not enough for Mathilde though. Since she does not “have a single jewel” to wear, she thinks that she will “look like distress” and she would rather just not go to the ball. She decides to ask her wealthy friend Madame Forestier if she could borrow some jewelry. She ends up wearing a beautiful diamond necklace to the ball where she was “prettier than them all, elegant, gracious, smiling and crazy with joy.” (Maupassant 556)
Unfortunately, the necklace gets lost at the ball, forcing Mathilde and her husband to replace it for thirty six thousand francs. Mathilde and Loisel work to pay off their debt for ten years, unaware to the fact the necklace is fake. They “dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof.”(Maupassant 558) Consequently, Mathilde and her husband slaved for ten years just to pay off the debt for one night of beauty. One evening, Mathilde runs into Madame Forestier while taking a walk. She confesses to Madame Forestier that she had lost the original diamond necklace and had bought an identical one to replace it. In response, Madame Forestier says “Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs!” (Maupassant 559) This is ironic, because Mathilde hoped that borrowing the necklace would aid her into the elite class she coveted, but instead it sent her into the life of poverty and misery.
This situation is also ironic for the fact that the only asset Mathilde valued about herself was her beauty, which she has lost while working to pay back the debt from the necklace. Mathilde borrowed the necklace in order to be seen as beautiful and fancy, but that same necklace causes her to look old and “strong and hard and rough.” The harsh life that Mathilde and her husband assume after losing the necklace makes her previous social status seem luxurious.
In “The Necklace,” Madame Forestier’s fake diamond necklace is a symbol between appearance and reality. The necklace, gorgeous, but worthless in monetary value, symbolizes wealth itself- beautiful, but fake. Mathlide borrows the diamond necklace from Madame Forestier so she can convey this false appearance of wealth at the ball. The falseness of the diamond necklace could parallel the falseness of Loisels’s desire for wealth and luxury. Building upon the idea that the necklace is a direct representation of wealth, it represents appearance as well. Wealth and...

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