"The Necklance": A Tragedy Of Mathilde Loisel

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A life of glitz and glamor may not be for everyone, but Mathilde Loisel may say otherwise. Guy De Maupassant's 'The Necklace' is a story about a woman whose life is not what she feels she deserves. Mathilde lives in an illusory world where objects, appearances, and associations have life-changing powers. In this French 1800s story, a woman named Mathilde is unhappy with how her life has turned out. She doesn’t appreciate what she has. Her husband manages to get them invited to a ball where the whole official world would be there, in hopes to make his wife happy. But it was quite the opposite effect. Mathilde is upset that she lacks any beautiful dresses or jewels to wear to the ball. Her husband gives her all the money he had been saving to buy a dress, and she asks a friend, who is well off, to borrow a beautiful diamond necklace to wear to the ball. Mathilde had a phenomenal time at the ball, being the prettiest and most sought-after woman there. However, she quickly came down from that high once she realized she had lost the necklace that her friend had let her borrow. Unable to find the necklace, her husband was forced to come up with a plan and as a last resort, opted to borrow money to buy a replacement necklace to give back to Mathilde's friend. For the next 10 years, Mathilde, and her husband lived in poverty worse than how they started at the beginning of the story trying to pay back all the money they had borrowed. One day while walking down the road she noticed Madame Forestier, whom she had borrowed the necklace from. Mathilde confessed to her that the necklace was lost, and all of her debts have been paid off only to learn that the necklace she had borrowed wasn’t real diamonds and wasn’t expensive at all. Mathilde was so concerned about superficial wealth, that she suffered morally, emotionally, and physically all because she believed that she deserved more than what she originally had.

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Moral Suffering

Mathilde suffers a great deal morally after she loses her friend, Madame Forestier, necklace. She holds herself responsible for losing the beautiful necklace and after failed attempts of looking for it she does not know what to do. Her husband then tells her: 'You must write to your friend that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended.' Mathilde, who is filled with mad fear, would much rather listen and tell lie carefully constructed by her husband to her friend Madame Forestier than tell her the truth about losing the necklace. The consequences of her not being truthful, cause her and her husband to go into a large amount of debt after trying to come up with the money, which was 36,000 Francs, that they did not have to replace the necklace which was lost. Over the next 10 years, Mathilde transforms herself from a self-entitled, proud wife of a lower middle-class ministry clerk, to becoming “the woman of impoverished households-strong and hard and rough”. She learned what it felt like to live in true poverty by dismissing her servants and changing their lodgings. She does housework herself for pay to help her husband pay the debt that she carelessly caused them. After all the years of hard work and slowly using her vanity, she is not humbled. She even still accuses her friend, Madame Forestier of being the main cause of her troubles and all her sorrows. Mathilde tells Madame Forester after she runs into her: 'Yes, I have had days hard enough, since I have seen you, days wretched enough—and that because of you!' Madame Forestier then tells Mathilde that the necklace that she borrowed was not authentic diamonds, but fake stones that were only worth 500 Francs. Maupassant doesn’t give a clue as to how Mathilde reacted to this news, but it can be assumed that it either filled her with rage now knowing that she suffered all these years for nothing or maybe even humbled her a little bit. Either way, it's comprehensible that Mathilde suffered substantial morally.

Emotion Suffering

Aside from Mathilde suffering morally, she also suffers emotionally in this story. The first signs of emotional distress start when her husband and she receive an invitation to the ministers' ball. Instead of being joyful that she was invited, she is immediately rude and sarcastic. She scornfully asks him what he wish her to do with such an invitation. He tries to explain to her that he thought it would make her happy to go since she never goes anywhere. But instead of being grateful, she is irritated that she doesn’t have a dress to wear and feels unworthy of going to the ball. She is also annoyed that she doesn't have any jewels to wear and when her husband offers to buy her flowers to wear, she responds quickly saying that there is nothing that would be more degrading than showing up to the ball and looking poor all the other women look wealthy. Mathilde doesn’t feel worthy compared to the other women who are better off than her. When Mathilde loses the necklace at some point of the night that her friend, Madame Forestier, let her borrow, she becomes fearful and is too afraid to Madame Forestier that she has lost the necklace. Her husband makes enough promises and gathers enough borrowed money to replace the necklace. They spend the next 10 years or so paying all the debt that they had collected over the loss of the necklace and, Mathilde resorts to doing all the housework herself. Though Maupassant doesn’t clearly say it, one can imagine all the hard labor she did had to of taken a toll on her emotional wellbeing. Even though it was her carelessness that had caused this hardship, she would still sit by the window and think about her night at the ball, and how she had been so beautiful and sought-after. After 10 years of hard work, she finally runs into her friend, Madame Forestier, and decides to finally come clean about losing her diamond necklace and even holds her accountable for her misfortune. But after Madame Forestier explains to her that the beautiful necklace that she had borrowed wasn’t genuine diamonds and was only worth 500 Francs, the story ends. Maupassant doesn’t shed any light on how Mathilde reacted to this news, but one can assume it took quite an emotional toll on her.

Physical Suffering

As it’s been noted, Mathilde suffers morally and emotionally. However, she also suffers physically. Her husband, Loisel, goes through great trouble to collect the money needed to replace the necklace that she had lost. He went around asking to borrow francs, giving notes, and taking ruinous obligations to come up with the necessary funds to replace the necklace. In him doing this, Mathilde had no choice but to relieve her servants; change their lodgings and they were forced to rent a garret under the roof. She soon learned what heavy housework meant. Instead of having her servants do tasks for her, she found herself washing and drying lines and clothes, scrubbing greasy pots with her once pretty hands causing them to turn red. Doing all the labor-intensive housework had to take a toll on her physically. “Mme. Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households—strong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew, and red hands...” Mathilde worked hard to help her husband pay off wishesreceivedall the debt that she had caused. Whilst doing this labor, she loses the one thing that she cherished in her youth, which caused her to seek being glamourized: her good looks. She was not the beautiful young woman she once was before her troubles started.


In conclusion, Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a short story about a woman who thinks she deserves more out of life. She felt as if she was born into the wrong class and was meant to live life among the wealthy. Her husband manages to get an invitation to the minister's ball and Mathilde is less than pleased. He comes up with enough money for her to buy a dress and she asks her friend, Madame Forestier, to borrow the beautiful diamond necklace that she wears to the ball. Mathilde was a wonderful time at the ball, but that night is one she will remember forever. During the night she loses the beautiful necklace that was borrowed and can’t find it. Her husband comes to the rescue and comes up with enough money to replace the necklace. However, the consequences of losing the necklace come with Mathilde and her husband being in debt for the next 10 years. During those years, Mathilde loses more than what she started with before she borrowed the necklace. She suffered morally, emotionally, and physically. She loses the beautiful looks that she cherished so much and, in the process, struggled emotionally, not taking full responsibility for her carelessness and blaming her friend, Madame Forestier for the hardship she had to deal with over the years. But it was all in vain, only to find out the necklace that had ruined her life, was fake and cheap.   

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