51 pages 1 hour read

Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1884

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The Harm of Dissatisfaction

At the outset of the story, Mathilde’s material desires establish the focus maintained throughout the narrative. De Maupassant first describes Mathilde based on her appearance and her desire to be “appreciated, understood, loved, and married by a rich and distinguished man” (Paragraph 1). Further, Mathilde’s “beauty, grace, and charm replace [her] pride of birth” (Paragraph 2). Yet these traits cannot hide the truth: she is a woman born into the working class and of no notable social rank. Mathilde’s shallow personality leads her to suffering and covetousness, as she ignores the advantages around her and pines for the life she thinks she wants and deserves. She is dissatisfied with the same lifestyle that Loisel is content with, illustrating that the fault lies in her preoccupation with being part of a social class she cannot be a part of. This dissatisfaction leads her to borrow the necklace that will cause her to struggle in poverty for a decade. Had she been satisfied with her class and life, she would have avoided poverty.

Mathilde’s obsession with being part of the upper class ultimately causes her misery. De Maupassant uses negative words such as “suffered,” “ugly,” “pain,” “tormented,” “angry,” and “rueful” to illustrate her feelings toward her lifestyle (Paragraphs 3-4).