In the story The Necklace the authors theme seems to be that greed and envy can lead to destruction. Another main point in the story is that luxury is not everything. That seemed to be the problem for Madame Mathilde because she seemed to want everything and was not satisfied with what she had. In this paper I will show how the author demonstrates that dishonesty, envy and greed can lead to bigger problems by the use of characters, plot, symbolism and various devices.
The Necklace begins with a description of the main character, Madame Mathilde Loisel. She is described as pretty and charming. Madame Mathilde and her husband, who is a clerk in the Ministry of Education, are not well off financially. She has always dreamed of being rich having things such as a large home and servants, but her lifestyle is not what she wants it to be. Ashamed of her social standing, she no longer visits Madame Forestier who is an old school friend who became rich. When the Loisels are invited to a ball, Madame Loisel becomes very upset, insisting that she has nothing appropriate to wear to such an event. Hoping to make his wife feel better, Monsieur Loisel offers to buy her a new dress. As the ball approaches, Madame Loisel again becomes anxious because she has no jewels to wear. Her husband suggests she borrow jewels from Madame Forestier. Madame Loisel pays her old friend a visit the next day and she is welcomed to borrow any piece of jewelry she desires. She then selects a beautiful diamond necklace.
At the ball, Madame Loisel enjoys herself very much because she is living the life she always wanted to live. She dances until 4:00 in the morning, and then she and her husband decide to return home in a cab. On the way home, she gets caught up "in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart" (Maupassant). Once they get home Madame Loisel realizes that she has lost the diamond necklace. Her husband spends several hours retracing their steps but finds nothing. They decide to replace the necklace without telling Madame Forestier, and they go heavily in debt. Years of grueling work goes by in an effort to repay their debt. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to get her breath. And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money" (Maupassant). All of these things and more she does because she will not tell her friend the truth about the lost necklace. With all the hard work Madame Loisel ages prematurely so she looks quite older than what she really is. After ten long years of poverty, they finally pay off their entire debt. From time to time Madame Loisel fondly remembers the evening of the ball. One day Madame Loisel runs into Madame Forestier, who still looks young and beautiful. Madame Loisel tells her friend the whole story. She had not realized that her necklace had been replaced with another. Madame Forestier then reveals that the original was made of fake diamonds and was not valuable. "Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . (Maupassant). That means that if she would have only told the truth from the beginning, she could have gone on living her original life. While it wasn't exactly perfect, it was much easier than the one she and her husband have lived for the past ten years.
The major idea of The Necklace would be how Madame Mathilde spent many years trying to repay her debt for the necklace she had bought as a replacement for Madame Jeanne Forestier. Yet not knowing that the necklace Madame Jeanne Forestier let her borrow was a fake and not a real necklace. If being honest was something important to Madame Mathilde, none of this would have occurred. It seems that dishonesty gets one into more trouble than honesty itself. Thats where Madame Mathilde showed her greedy and wanting side.
There are three main characters in The Necklace and they are Madame Mathilde Loisel, Madame Jeanne Forestier, and Monsieur Loisel. Madame Mathilde Loisel is the main character and it is her desire to be part of the upper class which sets the storys events in motion. She is a beautiful woman who feels that she is born for every luxury. Her belief that she is meant for better things than middle-class things forms the center of her personality. She believes that all superficial things such as a ball gown, better furniture, a large house will make her happy.
The next character is Madame Jeanne Forestier. Madame Forestier is a school friend of Mathilde Loisel, and she lends her the necklace that Madame Loisel wears to the ball. Madame Forestiers wealth has envied by Madame Loisel, preventing her from keeping in touch with her old friend.
The last character is Monsieur Loisel who is Madam Mathildes husband. Monsieur Loisels self satisfaction with his social situation is different compared to his wifes desire to experience life among the wealthy people. Whereas Madame Loisel dreams of magnificent multi-course meals, her husband is satisfied with simple foods: Scotch broth! What could be better? (Maupassant). He is attentive to his wifes desires and obtains tickets to a ball so that she can see all the rich people.
The only characters that change throughout the story are Madame Mathilde. In the beginning of the story she was young and in the end she was prematurely old and lost her beauty. She lost her beauty by all the hard work she did trying to repay the debt for the necklace she had bought as a replacement. Madame Jeanne Forestier and Monsieur Loisel really didnt change.
The Necklace is told by an omniscient third-person narrator, who holds back from judging the characters or their actions. The narrator does have access to the characters thoughts and mentions that Madame Loisel is unhappy because she feels that she married beneath her. For the most part, the narrator simply describes the events of the story, leaving it up to the reader to determine the characters through their actions.
The necklace is the central symbol of the story. Madame Loisel had no clothes, no jewels, nothing, and while her husband can buy her a dress, they cannot afford jewelry. The necklace represents Madame Loisels greed and also her artificiality. She judges herself by the things that she has, and believes that other people will too. The necklace of artificial diamonds symbolizes the insincerity of her character. Those who admire the necklace only for its supposed worth have been fooled. Just because it looks real does not mean that it is real. I believe this would be a personal symbol because it has to do with the necklace that was lent to Madame Mathilde.
Mathildes greed and dishonesty lead her family to a horrible life. She had it pretty good but she kept wishing for more. Mathildes want for luxury put her through ten excruciating years of working hard to pay back all her debt. All that hard work also affected her appearance by making her prematurely age. Therefore, greed, envy and dishonesty can lead to much bigger problems.