"The Necklace": A Realism Focus on Everyday Life and Social Critique

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Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” is a masterful example of literary realism, a movement that emerged in the mid-19th century and sought to portray everyday life and people in a truthful, unembellished manner. This essay will delve deeper into how "The Necklace" epitomizes the tenets of realism, from its characterization of ordinary people to its emphasis on the trivial aspects of life.

One of the defining characteristics of literary realism is its emphasis on depicting real people and their struggles. In "The Necklace," Madame Loisel is a middle-class woman who dreams of a life of luxury and extravagance but is limited by her modest means. Maupassant portrays her not as a romanticized heroine or a caricatured figure but as a flawed and relatable human being whose desires and disappointments we can all understand. By focusing on such a typical character, Maupassant urges us to consider the experiences of ordinary people and to empathize with their struggles.

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Another hallmark of literary realism is its emphasis on depicting the mundane aspects of life. In "The Necklace," Maupassant pays close attention to the details of Madame Loisel's daily routine, from her hours of drudgery at the sewing machine to her simple dinner of soup and beef. Through these details, Maupassant captures the monotony and banality of middle-class life in 19th-century France, demonstrating how even the smallest joys and pleasures can be elusive for those on the lower rungs of society.

In addition to its focus on the ordinary and the mundane, "The Necklace" also embodies the realistic approach to narrative structure. Unlike many stories of the time, which featured dramatic climaxes and grandiose conclusions, "The Necklace" has a more subdued and subtle arc. Madame Loisel's downfall comes not from some grand tragedy or sweeping calamity, but from a seemingly minor misfortune: the loss of a necklace. This understated narrative structure allows Maupassant to highlight the small yet significant moments that shape our lives and to demonstrate how even the smallest mistakes can have far-reaching consequences.

Moreover, "The Necklace" exemplifies realism through its emphasis on social critique. Throughout the story, Maupassant critiques the social hierarchies and class divisions that pervade French society. Madame Loisel's desperation to keep up appearances and her obsession with status and wealth are a direct result of the societal pressures and expectations placed upon her. In this way, Maupassant exposes the harsh realities of life for those on the lower rungs of the social ladder and critiques the superficiality and materialism of the upper classes.

Furthermore, "The Necklace" can be seen as an exploration of the theme of the transitory nature of human desires. Madame Loisel's unquenchable thirst for materialistic pursuits causes her to suffer in the end. Her vanity and social ambition lead her down a path of deceit and self-delusion, which ultimately results in her living in poverty, the exact opposite of what she had envisioned for herself. Through this storyline, Maupassant reminds us of the futility of materialistic desires and the consequences of pursuing them blindly.

In conclusion, "The Necklace" is a perfect example of literary realism, embodying many of the movement's defining characteristics, from its focus on ordinary characters and mundane details to its emphasis on social critique and subtle narrative structure. Through its depiction of Madame Loisel and her struggles, Maupassant encourages us to consider the experiences of ordinary people and to empathize with their desires and disappointments. He highlights the harsh realities of social hierarchies and critiques the superficiality and materialism of the upper classes. Additionally, the story explores the theme of the transitory nature of human desires, reminding us of the futility of pursuing materialistic pursuits blindly. Overall, "The Necklace" is a timeless masterpiece of realism that continues to resonate with readers today.

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“The Necklace”: A Realism Focus on Everyday Life and Social Critique. (2020, October 20). WritingBros. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-realism-period-in-the-necklace/
““The Necklace”: A Realism Focus on Everyday Life and Social Critique.” WritingBros, 20 Oct. 2020, writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-realism-period-in-the-necklace/
“The Necklace”: A Realism Focus on Everyday Life and Social Critique. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-realism-period-in-the-necklace/> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
“The Necklace”: A Realism Focus on Everyday Life and Social Critique [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Oct 20 [cited 2024 May 28]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/the-realism-period-in-the-necklace/
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