51 pages 1 hour read

Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1884

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Literary Context: Realism

De Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a classic example of literary realism, a movement that flourished in France in the 19th century. Literary realism focuses on realistic characters and settings, character development, plausible plot elements, and the depiction of social class.

Mathilde and Loisel are both highly realistic characters, as both have traits relatable to most people. While Mathilde is materialistic and vain, she also wants the most life has to offer her. Loisel, on the other hand, is more content and happier with his position in life. Both characters reflect basic human traits and needs. Mathilde’s character development is likewise familiar, as many readers can relate to the fact that difficult circumstances often provoke the most profound change in a person. The setting of the story is similarly realistic in that it is set in Paris and references specific streets and places in the city. De Maupassant’s use of imagery also shapes the realism of the setting, as readers can easily see themselves in the story and the lives of the characters.

The plot itself, while ultimately tragic and ironic, is highly plausible. Often the goal a person strives for ends up causing more harm than good.