All That Lies In The Necklace
Guy de Maupassant was born in a rented castle in 1850. Throughout his life, he possessed many job titles and occupations. As a teenager, he was taken in as a student of sorts by novelist Gustave Flaubert. He wrote more than three hundred short stories, novels, and travel books all in the decade before his death in 1893. Maupassant has several amazing works, including “The Necklace”, that make readers think deeply and even question many of the characters’ choices. Maupassant’s characters display deception throughout the story with many symbols and situations that they encounter.
No one is certain about what the true inspiration for “The Necklace” is. Douglas Bement says “…it might have sprung from the sight of a paste necklace in a shop window.” This would have led Mausappant to start asking himself questions about the person who would buy this necklace because they think that it is genuine. We could also consider the fact that Maupassant was born in a castle, grew up in a fairly wealthy family, and lived luxuriously in his adult years. He knew what it was like to have money, so his characters are the opposite. They have very little money and some wish for more.
“The Necklace” begins by describing to us the character of Madame Loisel. She is a woman who thinks very highly of herself and believes she deserves more than what this life has given her. Her husband, who is a very sweet, hardworking man realizes this, so he does everything in his power to receive an invitation to a very elite gathering at the Ministry of Education. He even gives her money that he has been saving for himself so that she can buy a new dress. However, she is still not satisfied. She borrows a beautiful diamond necklace from her very rich friend. After the party, she realizes that the necklace is missing. They spend ten years saving money to buy a new one only to find out that the original necklace was a fake. Throughout the story, many themes can be spotted. An obvious one would be the theme of deception.
Maupassant uses main characters and their actions help build the theme of deception even more. Madame Loisel is a very beautiful woman, but she is very ungrateful. She obviously wishes to be something that she is not. Dressing up in jewels and a new dress for a night allows her to fulfill this dream and make everyone believe that she is more than what she is. Madame Forestier, one of Madame Loisel’s only rich friends, also plays into the theme of deception by giving her a fake necklace. Madame Loisel’s husband is the good guy of the story. “Her husband, then, shall be the innocent victim, for she herself, because of her vanity, may not be innocent in our eyes.” (Bement 1). He seems to us, as readers, that he loves his wife very much and is very happy with their marriage, but he could also be deceiving everyone because he is also stuck in the relationship
Throughout the story, Maupassant uses symbolism, but Professor of English, Sara Tantlinger, argues that the most important piece of symbolism is the course of the necklace. Tantlinger starts by saying, “If Mme. Loisel had been honest about losing the necklace, than Mme. Forestier would have (hopefully) told her the necklace was a fake and only worth five hundred francs versus the forty thousand francs Mme. Loisel and her husband paid to have it replaced.” If Madame Forestier had told Madame Loisel in the very beginning that the jewels were fake then there is a very good chance that she would have chosen a different piece to wear. All of the decisions made by the characters led the necklace to wherever it happened to end up after the story.
The necklace also symbolizes everything that Madame Loisel wants but cannot have. At the time that “The Necklace” takes place, it was extremely difficult to move up in social status. Madame Loisel believes that she deserves to be in a higher social class but that she settled for less. “So she let herself be married to an insignificant clerk in the Ministry of Education.” (Maupassant 609). Madame Loisel believes that this one beautiful diamond necklace helps her become what she has always dreamed of being. When the necklace goes missing, it symbolizes her fantasy is also being taken away from her.
The deception in the story is played out until the very end. Madame Loisel and her husband tell a lie to Madame Forestier. Maupassant writes, “Tell her that you’ve broken the clasp of her necklace and that you’re having it repaired. That will buy us some time.” That lie puts them through ten years of trials and debt. Finally, at the end of the story, the truth is told for the first time, but it is too late.
At the end of the story, Madame Loisel is almost a completely different person. She has aged tremendously and she is obviously worn down. “Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become the sort of woman often found in poor households: tough, grasping, and coarse.” (Maupassant 613). The lying and pretending took their toll on the Loisels. Ten years of her life she wasted working to earn money to replace a necklace that is not worth what they thought. Though readers might think that these years of hard work would change Madame Loisel’s attitude, they did not. She still thought about her wonderful night at the ball very often, and she still wished for more.
As you can see, Maupassant uses his characters to teach a lesson to his readers. One should be happy with what they have, even if it is not much. Readers also take away from the story a lesson in deception and how it can affect your life. Guy de Maupassant used his characters and a single necklace to build a clear theme of deception in the story of “The Necklace”.
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Guy de Maupassant was born in a rented castle in 1850. Throughout his life, he possessed many job titles and occupations. As a teenager, he was taken in as a […]