Written by Guy de Maupassant in 1881, The Necklace is a captivating short story that ends in a surprise. It is the most eye-catching work of Maupassant with all words contributing to the events that the narrative unfolds. It has garnered him a lot of acknowledgment.
The tale is set in Paris, France specifically covering Loisel’s home and the neighborhoods, ministry of education inclusive. Employing the elements of literature, Maupassant has used characters like monsieur Loisel, a clerk in the ministry of education, Mathilde, Loisel’s wife, Madame Jeanne Forestier, Mathilde’s neighbor and friend, Housemaid, Mathilde’s house servant, among others.
The writer takes the reader through the life of these characters and in particular, the poor family of Loisel and the rich family of Forestier. It unfolds that the kind of life depicted by these two categories of people is far from the reality. This illustration builds up the prevailing theme of the narrative ‘the deceptiveness of appearance’, which the writer employs to show how people are deceived by the appearance of others.
Deceptiveness of appearance
Mathilde is a reasonably attractive girl regardless of her unfortunate family backgrounds. She regrets much owing to this poverty because she always compares herself with the other girls from well up homes. For instance, Forestier’s family is rich. She gets married to a mere government clerk. The ministry of education organizes a party for all its staff members, giving them a chance to invite their wives or husbands.
Ironically, thinking that this would thrill his wife, Loisel on delivering the invitation, realizes that it is more of a stress than joy to her. “Instead of being delighted, she threw the invitation on the table with disdain murmuring…” (Maupassant 39). The reason behind this is that she lacks elegant dresses and necklaces like other women, a case that makes her imagine how odd she can be if she attends the occasion.
They end up borrowing these from Forestier, but unfortunately the necklace gets lost after the event, an incidence that costs Loisel’s family virtually everything as they toil for ten years looking the money to purchase another one. They finally buy 36000 francs worthy necklace but on returning it to Forestier; she reveals its cost as just 500 francs. They are now in a severe financial crisis, though had they realized the truth, this would not be the case.
A major problem that the writer fails to clarify is whether Forestier resells the necklace to refund the extra money in order to reduce the debt incurred or not. This paves way to criticisms of his story, though he has managed to develop the dominant theme of the story. Mathilde stands out in the party as a rich and a high class wife owing to the diamond-appearing necklace that the people fail to realize that it was borrowed.
Still on this theme, Forestier’s family is depicted as financially stable. It can afford some of the expensive things that poor families imagine of. Forestier has, not only one but many of them, unlike her counterpart Mathilde.
She wears them when attending great occasions, a case that earns her a good deal of recognition from other people. This is what Mathilde is yearning for. She wants to appear like her friend. She wants people to view her as rich. The writer shows how she longs for a recognized family name as well as an expensive dowry. By this she feels that she will appear like other rich families.
She is pictured as one, who is ever working towards achieving this reality, though what she publicizes is not what is on the ground. For instance, in the party, she appears the most elegant, a situation that makes all people want to chat with her, owing to what they are seeing, an expensive looking dress and a diamond necklace, but little do they know about the truth of the matter.
Following the issue behind Forestier’s necklace, it stands out that it is not made of diamond as people perceive. Though what appears in their eyes is the diamond look on the necklace, the story ends when Forestier reveals that it is just a mere coating. To strengthen his theme, the writer wants to show how the rich end up deceiving other people through their possessions.
Most of them appear costly before the eyes of people but rarely are they in their real senses. The value attached to some items, owing to their appearance, turns out to be many times different from their real values. For instance, the necklace appears 72 times expensive. The writer succeeds in showing how people mistake the rich people.
They have been portrayed as just appearing as if they are rich, which is not the case. Worthy noting is that the writer does not clarify about the child who appears to walk with Forestier. It is not clear whether he is intending to elaborate his theme further by introducing images of people who are not real characters, or not. This again welcomes criticisms to his works.
Though dead and forgotten, Maupassant works speak volumes of his existence. The ideas behind his Necklace narrative stands out clear today. The issue of appearance is now everywhere with people struggling to hide their real selves in order to mislead others. Items have been manufactured bearing a false identity of others only to trick people. This is the kind of life that the writer was prophesying through the use of his major theme ‘the deceptiveness of appearance’ that he develops through the different characters.
Maupassant, Guy. “The Necklace” France: Word Press, 1881. P. 38-44.