The Necklace: A Closer Look at Character

English 102

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Essay 1

In any literay work, it is absolutely essential to have characters,

whether major or minor. It is also necessary to develop these characters

through out the story. Character development gives the reader insight to the

more important meanings or lessons of the story. These lessons are usually

brought out by the events that take place within the story. Looking at Guy De

Maupassant's piece "The Necklace", we see a very clear development of the main

character Mathidle. In the story, we see a change in her attitude about life.

This change come about when she has to learn one of life's little lessons the

hard way. She and her husband are forced to live a life of hard work and

struggle because of her own selfish desires. Mathilde changes from a woman who

spends her time dreaming of all the riches and glory she doesn't have, to

realizing that she over looked all the riches she did have.

The story opens with the description of how miserable Mathilde is.

Maupassant describes her as "suffering constantly, feeling herself destined for

all delicacies and luxeries." (Pg 4) She sits dreaming of silent rooms nicely

decorated and her own private room, scented with perfume to have intimate "tete-

a-tetes" with her closest friends. Then she is awakened, only to realize that

she is in her own grim apartment. In her eyes, she lives a tortured and unfair

life. Mathidle has a husband named Losiel. He is much the opposite of his wife.

He is completely content with his lifestyle. He seems to be a very passive

person, who doesn't let status or riches effect him. Of course, if he had the

chance to be rich he would, but he doesn't dwell on the fact that he is part of

the middle class. He seems ot be a hard worker and does his best to provide for

his wife. He demonstrates is simplicity the one night at dinner Losiel and

Mathilde sit down to eat. Mathidle is dreaming of fancy four course meals,

while he is ecstatic because they are eating boiled beef.

Losiel is aware that his wife has not yet adjusted to her status. One

night, he had come home from work very excited. He had worked extra hard to

get he and his wife invited to one of the biggest parties ever. Losiel thought

this would be please his wife, when in fact it only made her upset. Here was

Losiel trying to please his wife and she just started to cry. This just goes to

show how ungreatful she really is.

When Losiel had inquired about why she was upset, she had said it was

because she had nothing to wear. She was hinting to her husband that she needed

a dress. Then Losiel, because he wanted his wife to be happy had willingly

given up his vacation money so his wife could have a dress to wear. Still, that

wasn't good enough for her. Mathilde wanted more.

Luckily, Mathilde had a friend in the upper class. She had gone to her

friend and had asked to borrow jewlery for the occasion. This just helped to

prove her need to have more. When she arrived at her friends house she had many

things to choose from. Mathilde had seen all kinds of things that delighted her

but one thing imparticular had caught her eye. "In a black satin box, a superb

diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with desire for it. Her hands shook as

she picked it up. She fastened it around her neck, watched it gleam at her

throat and looked at herself ecstatically." (Pg 6) She had gotten all she

wanted. Once again, Mathilde's selfish desires had been fulfilled.

After going to the ball and basically being the "life of the party",

she returned home to her drab apartment, only to remember the events of the

evening where she was in the sporlight and people looked at her. It was at that

moment that she had noticed that the necklace was missing. She and her husband

had searched everywhere for it yet, the necklace was no where to be found. For

the next ten years Loisel and Mathilde worked their fingers to the bone to repay

Mathilde's friend for the necklace that Mathilde had carelessly lost. They had

to move to a different apartment, this worse than the last. They also had to

borrow money from the various people to pay some of the finance charges they had

aquired from owing loan sharks.

It was in this time, that Mathilde had began to change. Psysically, "

she had become the strong, hard , rude, woman of poor households. " (pg 9) But

also there was a change on the inside , too . Sometimes she still sat and

thought about her moment of glory and then thought about what her life would

have been like if she would have never lost the necklace. She realized that her

selfishness and desire to be "on top" had caused her to expierence the major

down fall that she did. She also realized that she was at rock bottom now, her

and her husband both, and she had put them there.

Losiel in this time really didn't change. He just did what had to be

done in order to pay for his wife's mistake. I don't think he complained about

it either. He saw that she was working hard to correct her mistake and indeed

was learning from it. Once again, Losiel was demonstrating his passiveness.

Maupassant uses Mathilde as a round chacter. She is the one who changes or

evolves with the events of the story. She learns that "one should be content

with what one has" and " it's ok to dream, but not to let your dreams keep

you from seeing reality. " Losiel then, is a flat character. He remains the

same or is constant. With all the comotion in the story, Losiel manages to

keep the same character traits. His life is effected yet, he's still the same

person. Another example of a flat character is Mrs. Forriester. Even though

her necklace is lost, it really doesn't have an impact on her character. She

too, remains constant.

Mathilde dreams of unattainable wealth and comfort yet, fails to see

that her dream life ends up harming her real life. Maupassant does and exellent

job of showing the transformation of Mathilde's character from a person who is

selfish and ungreatful to a person who realizes that her mistakes and pays for

it the rest of her life. Even though the story is fiction, Maupassant has

made it believeable and lifelike. Someone reading this story could benefit

greatly from it. We all must deal with selfishness at some point in our lives.

Why not learn from other peoples mistakes , fiction or not.


De Maupassant, Guy. "The Necklace." Literature : An Introduciton to Reading

and Writing , Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Prentice Hall, 1995. 3-10.