The Necklace Literary Analysis

In the short story “The Necklace,” written by Guy de Maupassant, an indirect theme is revealed,
allowing the lesson to take effect for the reader after the entire story has been read. Indirect themes
present a constant theme which is referred to throughout the story, but not in the title. In the case of
“The Necklace,” Maupassant focuses on the deception of appearances throughout the passage. The
author never directly associates the particular necklace as the theme, but rather, the subject and topic of
the story which reveals the theme. Thus, several hints are placed throughout the events of the story of
which the reader can only realize exist after having finished reading and analyzing the story’s sequence
of events.
As it is universally known, appearances can be deceiving. In “The Necklace,” Mathilde’s
persistence to her husband seem entirely superficial, as they should be interpreted by the reader. She
craves for the luxurious lifestyle, never having to lift a finger for having to do anything — no chores, no
work, and no responsibilities. Mathilde longs for a life of the higher class, but she is stuck in the poor
lifestyle of middle class citizenry. However, Mathilde is presented the opportunity to become
something more than what she already is when giving an invitation to a local prestige ball (of which her
poor, caring husband obtained for her). With this, she saw the opportunity to rise from the ashes she
currently lived on. Mathilde found a way to appearing proper, sophisticated, and wealthy (mainly
higher-class) among the guests at the fabulous ball of the town, having bought a gallant dress with all
of her husband’s savings and borrowed a stunning diamond necklace from a close friend. As she was a
success at the ball, having everyone’s attention (including the Minister), she lost the borrowed diamond
necklace, and spends the next decade slaving to recover the loss of those debts and finances in
replacing the diamond necklace. With this, the symbolism of the costume jewelry in the satin boxappearing to be real, and the deception of the characters towards Mathilde shows Maupassant’s
intention to demonstrate that not everything is truly what it seems to be in life. Taking this into a
personal perspective, the reader can certainly appreciate the theme of the story due to the harsh reality
of Mathilde’s withstanding circumstance after she loses the precious diamond necklace that resulted in
being a fluke piece of jewelry.
Maupassant presents Mathilde’s ultimate perception of her simple life, a woman who is not
wealthy or part of a higher social class but feels warranted to be a member of the high society because
of her beauty and charm. She considers herself poor even though she and her husband employ a house
keeper who is able to washes the dishes, does the laundry, brings down the trash, goes to the market for
her, and basically maintain her household without her lifting any fingers for responsibility. Having an
employee in her own household obviously warrants some kind of title for higher class, but Mathilde
does not realize this. Instead, Mathilde continues to hold onto the appearance of beauty instead of the
reality that beauty itself carries. Additionally, in the story, Maupassant uses the term “suffer endlessly”
to describe Mathilde current living condition as a “poor” life in the character’s own eyes, when in
reality this main character is actually a citizen of middle class in society. And, this can be portrayed in
the following quotation from the beginning of the passage:
“She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury… All these things, of
which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her…”
In fact, in the story, Maupassant does not exploit the experience of the reality of poverty to
Mathilde until she and her husband get themselves into debt in order to pay off the diamond necklace
(which turned out to be a fake necklace that Mathilde borrows from a close friend so that she may
attend the local ball to look fabulous). With this, Mathilde feels she deserves more in life, more in
which would allow for making her ever-more selfish and materialistic, and therefore showing her trueugliness in character. It shows the vainness in gathering materialistic things or living within a
materialistic environment. She spends her days fantasizing of an extravagant lifestyle instead of
appreciating what she does already have. Even throughout the story she tries everything in her power
to make her life appear different than what it is;
“Madame Loisel was a success… She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful,
smiling, and quite above herself with happiness… in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal
homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her
feminine heart.”
Everything is right in the world when she attends the ball, and is admired and flattered by the
people who attended the ball, only they do not see the truth behind the exterior — the effort and
scheming she went through to appear that way. This moment shows that her wealth and class are an
illusion, and other people can be and are easily deceived by it.
Madame Forestier’s necklace symbolizes the main idea behind the theme; it shows the biggest
deception of appearance in the story. Mathilde judges herself by the things that she has and owns, and
truly believes that others will too. She ‘‘had no clothes, no jewels, nothing.’’ But, while her husband
can buy her a new and expensive dress at one moment, they cannot afford any jewelry whatsoever the
next moment. When Mathilde spots the “black satin case,” she assumes the diamond cut necklace is
real, but it only gives the illusion of wealth and value, as much of her personality portrays. Throughout
the story, all of the characters, including the reader, are made to believe that this diamond necklace is
genuine in its value. However, the story’s main characters and its reader come to find out it was
nothing more than fake jewelry. This diamond necklace may be used to symbolize the idea of
deceptiveness of appearances since Maupassant deliberately reveals the truth at the end of the story to
display that appearances do not always represent the reality of things. While the necklace issufficiently beautiful to help Mathilde feel comfortable during the ball, the necklace is actually nothing
more than a phony. Thus, it is not the reality of wealth or high social class that is important for
Mathilde, rather the appearance of it.
Additionally, the fact that Madame Forestier has a necklace made of costume jewels proposes
the idea that even the wealthiest people pretend to have more wealth than they actually have.
Maupassant suggesting the necklace to go from worthless to precious shows that the perception of true
value can be warped by the eye of the beholder and that appearances can be easily deceived. The fact
that the necklace is at the center of the deception that leads to Mathilde’s downfall suggests that only
trouble can come from denying the reality of one’s situation. The necklace of artificial diamonds
symbolizes the insincerity of Mathilde’s character showing her greed and dishonesty. The people at the
ball who admired the necklace solely for its worth had been fooled, showing that not everything that
looks real is real. This symbolism is extended to Mathilde: just because she looks like an upper-class
lady in her ball gown and jewels does not mean that she of such a state. She enters willingly and
unknowingly into this deception, and her complete belief in her borrowed wealth allows her to convey
an appearance of wealth to others. So, because she believes herself rich and wealthy for one night, she
becomes rich in others’ eyes as well. The men at the ball who admired and succumbed to her charms
and wits can also be said to value appearance, since they have been mesmerized by a woman whose
charms have been brought out by artificial means.
Another way Maupassant shows deceptiveness by appearances is with the characters Mathilde
interacts with in the story. The first character is Madame Forestier whom does not tell Mathilde the
diamonds are artificial, and makes her believe that the necklace is real. Madame Forestier does not tell
her up front that the necklace is costume jewelry, perhaps because she, too, wants to give the illusion of
being wealthier than she actually is. Since Mathilde is so envious of Madame Forestier and believes
her to be wealthy, she never doubts the necklace’s authenticity. This suggests Mathilde has the
perception that her friend is genuine because she is a rich jeweler. She expects diamonds, so diamondsare what she perceives because Madame Foresteir’s belongings are fit for the rich. To boot, there are
also the people Mathilde meets at the ball that suggest they are real and honest because of their social
standing in society and wealth; however, because the necklace is a metaphor towards appearances
being deceiving, Maupassant may be implying, and simply pointing out the idea that the people at the
ball who judged Mathilde on her outward appearance are deceivers as well. Thus, it is not the reality of
wealth or high social class that is important for Mathilde or the people at the ball, but just the
appearance of it.


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