The Necklace Study Guide

The Necklace

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

"The Necklace" is a short story by Buy De Maupassant about Madame Mathilde Loisel and her husband. They are both relatively poor, and Madhilde desires status and wealth. Her husband manages to get invitations to a Ministry of Education party, spending his last money on a dress for her. Mathilde borrows a diamond necklace from Madame Forestier and, after the party, loses it. She borrows money to replace it, spending the next ten years in miserable poverty until finally learning from Forestier that the necklace was but a cheap imitation.

Madame Matilda Loisel has always imagined herself in a high state of aristocracy. However, she is born relatively poor. She marries a low-paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy but has nothing. Through lots of begging at work, her husband is able to get a invitation for the both of them to the Ministry of Education party. Matilda then refuses to go, for she has nothing to wear, and wishes not to be embarrassed.

Her husband is upset to see her displeasure and, using all the money that he was saving to buy a hunting rifle, gives Matilda 400 francs to use. Matilda goes out and buys a dress, but even with the dress she is not happy, as she is without any jewels to wear with it. The couple does not have much money left, so her husband suggests that she should buy flowers to wear with it. After Matilda disagrees, he suggests borrowing something from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Matilda goes to Madame Forestier and picks out her fanciest piece, a huge diamond necklace. She looks at it with covetousness.

After attending the party, Mathilda discovers that she has lost the necklace. She tries to find a quick way to replace it. She goes to a shop and discovers the price of a similar necklace to be 40,000 francs, eventually purchasing it for 36,000 francs. The couple has sold everything they owned and getting loans, but the long path of financial struggles begins as Matilda falls into debt.

Ten years later, while in the Champs-Élysées, she suddenly sees Madame Jeanne Forestier, who barely recognizes her in her dire state. As the women are talking, Matilda recounts the story of losing and replacing the necklace, and that it was because of Madame Forestier that she has lived so terribly the past ten years. Horrified, Madame Forestier takes Matilda's hands, explaining that her original necklace was a fake made of paste, and was worth nothing more than 500 francs.

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