Guy de Maupassant’s story The Necklace is about Mathilde and her husband, who live in poverty. Suffering is a significant theme in the short story, as illustrated by the main character Mathilde Loisel. The misery is caused by the young woman’s poverty and brutality in life, which she endures until the end of the novel. She lives with her husband, and their lives are filled with suffering and sorrow as a result of their hardship and financial difficulties. Although she experiences a night of happiness when she goes to a ball, more problems emerge especially when she loses the borrowed diamond necklace. I’ve no longer got Madame Forestier’s necklace_x0094_ (De Maupassant 3). To build the theme of suffering, the author uses literary devices, which include the symbolism, setting, and narrator point of view.
The author utilizes symbolism to communicate the main message in the story touching on suffering. The necklace is used symbolically representing something valuable, flashy, and beautiful. However, it turns out to be the cause of suffering for Mathilde and her husband when it gets lost _x0093_Every month notes had to be paid off_x0094_ (De Maupassant 5). They spend the rest of their life paying for it leading to financial struggles and emotional trauma. Mathilde_x0092_s husband borrows a lot of money to add to his savings to buy a new diamond necklace to replace the lost one. Instead of bringing joy to the family, the jewelry plunges the couple to extreme poverty only to discover later that the lost necklace cost much less since it was an imitation. Mathilde and her husband symbolize the class of individuals living in abject poverty in France during the late1800s. Madame Forestier symbolizes the wealthy people since she can afford to live an elegant lifestyle and buy beautiful ornaments.
The setting of the story is in Paris, France, a city that was considered glamorous and full of life in the nineteenth century. Mathilde’s dream is to become rich but is not concerned about being noble, which reveals that the story was set in the late nineteenth century, a period called Belle Epoque or the Lovely Age. There were technological innovations such as electricity, modish fashion, high consumerism, as well as wealth growth. The Necklace was therefore written in this era when everyone dreamed of being wealthy and having the latest fashion in the market. Mathilde dreams of being wealthy and dressing like the rich people in the city are similar to those of the generation that lived during this era. The story captures the spirit of the age in which it was written since it brings out the actual happenings. If the story was written earlier than the late nineteenth century, Mathilde would express some desire for nobility. However, she is only concerned with wealth, money, and flashy lifestyle. Money makes people able to buy expensive items such as the oriental tapestries, precious ornaments, and coquettish little rooms.
The story uses the third-person omniscient point of view since it focuses on Mathilde, a poor young woman living a life full of fantasies. The narrator talks about the main character as if she was an outsider. For instance, when she is introduced into the story she is simply “one of those girls” (De Maupassant 1). The narrator also can see the thoughts of Mathilde_x0092_s husband and helps the leader to understand all the happenings in their home. Maupassant appears to know the world very well especially the high society in Paris especially the manner in which Mathilde is described “_x0085_she was unhappy as though kept out of her class; for women have no caste and no descent_x0085_ _x0094_ (De Maupassant 2). The narrator describes the kind of life admired by women for them to feel elegant and beautiful. He is very detached from whatever he describes and although he seems to understand the society quite well, he does not relate to it. The author only describes it easily pointing at characters and their experiences depending on their life privileges. He seems conversant with the world of the poor individuals, which of the middle class as well as the upper class. He is therefore detached but understands the society very well. The narrator describes his characters in an interesting manner, which reveals detachment and understanding. The writer makes the reader to feel the suffering of Mathilde and her husband yet he does not share the family’s emotions. He makes the reader to be detached from the character’s experiences although they can express some sympathy for the characters. The narrator’s detachment prevents the story from being judgmental since one may want to judge Mathilde for being understanding but Maupassant does not. For instance, he makes the reader understand her demands of acquiring a decent dress and necklace for the party.
Maupassant was taught by Flaubert, a great French author who founded Realism genre. This involved narratives of average people instead of focusing on the super-rich, noble, holy, or happy. The stories involved people who were not very famous and longed to have better lives. _x0093_The Necklace_x0094_ is a fiction story of Realism genre since it gives a narration about characters dreaming to have a better life. De Maupassant_x0092_s teacher was of great influence to his writing style. The biography helps to understand the theme of suffering and use of literary devices in the story. The author was born in the late 19th century thus he understood the problems that faced the society very well during the era (Millhorn1). He combines his observations and reflections to create reality in his narrative. Knowing his past life through the biography enables me to understand the genre expressed in the story, which contributes to the central theme of suffering. Low-income earners such as Mathilde are going through great suffering due to financial challenges. She cannot buy things that she keeps dreaming of such as clothes _x0093_she had never been able to afford anything better_x0094_ (De Maupassant 51). Only the wealthy individuals could afford luxurious lifestyle while the poor only imagined of good life.
I chose this story due to its duplication of reality even if the story is a fiction. It helps to understand the changes people undergo due to circumstances that arise in their lives. The story focuses on the life of different classes of people in France in the late 19th century during the era of scientific innovations and increased wealth. People adopt a lifestyle defined by the amount of money and resources they have. For instance, when Mathilde and her husband borrow money to pay for a new necklace they move to a cheaper house and live in poor conditions. Their suffering increases due to the problems that arise. Similarly, rich individuals live happier and more elegant lives. The story gives the true picture of societies and gives a lot of meaning to my views of the challenges experienced during this period. I viewed the era as full of divisions and struggle for the poor and the story confirms my position. Mathilde lived fantasizing about good life, wealth, elegant clothing, and other things that the rich people enjoy. The poor suffered a lot thus she represents the poor women in Paris and the hard lifestyle they had to cope with every day. I liked the author’s detached but understanding tone since it helped to ease my emotions. He does not condemn Mathilde for demanding things that her husband cannot afford but makes the reader understand that she needs them for the party. He also offers a solution since Mathilde’s husband does not need to purchase a new necklace but borrow from a friend. However, I do not like the story_x0092_s ending on a sad and desperate note. Mathilde suffers to the very end especially when she struggles to buy an original diamond necklace yet the lost one was just an imitation. She and her husband spent ten years paying for the jewelry and live miserable life. Maupassant seems to understand the world of the poor very well thus narrates the story in a manner that does not raise judgment on the characters. They suffer because of the social divisions that exist between the wealthy and the poor.
De Maupassant, Guy. The necklace. Dramatic Publishing, 1969.
Millhorn, Jim. Guy de Maupassant. Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.