“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant is a story of cause and effect. It traces the development of a beautiful but dissatisfied woman who suffers constantly because she believes that she should have been born in luxury. Matilde Loisel’s obsession with wealth and glamour causes her to borrow a necklace to wear to a ball and when she loses it, she experiences emotional difficulties, mental trauma, dire financial straits and loss of a comfortable way of life, ultimately leading her to become bitter, regretful and live a life of drudgery. Eventually she is transformed into a hard and coarse woman.
Matilde’s problems begin when her husband comes home with an invitation to a ball thrown by the Minister of Education. Her husband has gone into a lot of trouble getting the invitation to satisfy her. When she complains that she has nothing nice to wear, M. Loisel gives her 400 francs to buy a dress and suggests that she borrow some jewelry from Mme. Forestier. Wishing to appear wealthy and beautiful, she borrows a diamond necklace from Mme. Forestier. The night of the ball arrives and Matilde has the time of her life. “She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her,” (Maupassant 3). This is the only occasion in the story when she is happy, when her new dress and borrowed necklace makes her feel at ease with the rich and famous. She feels that this is the society or class that she rightly belongs to. Unfortunately, her moment of happiness is fleeting for she loses the necklace. M. Loisel spends a whole week searching for the lost necklace while Matilde remains at home, worried. However, the necklace was not to be found. They decide to replace the necklace and go from one jeweler to another, “ill with remorse and anguish of mind”. Finally, she finds another necklace to replace the lost one and that costs the Loisels 36 thousand francs. The Loisels incur a heavy debt and it takes them 10 years to repay the debt. Their lives take a change for the worse after the loss of the necklace. They move to a small, dark unpleasant room. Consequently, Matilde comes “to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates,………… She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths…..”. (Maupassant 6). Thus, “Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty” (Maupassant 6). M. Loisel, too, takes on extra jobs and works almost the whole day. In the evening, he does a businessman’s account and at night, he copies manuscripts. Moreover, Matilde and her husband lose their home, their maid, their comfortable lifestyle. On top of it all, Matilde loses her looks. “Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households” (Maupassant 6). In the end, she learns a lesson in humility when she discovers that all the years of toil and sacrifice was for nothing. She learns that Mme. Forestier’s necklace was “only paste” and that it was worth only five hundred francs.
Ten years of drudgery was the price Matilde has to pay for her obsession with wealth and class. The loss of the necklace forces her to give up a comfortable life. It causes her emotional turmoil and mental anguish. She has to live a life of abject poverty and misery. The loss of the necklace not only affects Matilde but also her husband who works the whole day. They had to work ten years to repay their debts. In addition, she is forced to relinquish any hope of climbing the social ladder because Loisel had to forfeit his inheritance and they had to work ten years to pay the debt. Thus, the chain of events that takes place is due to the loss of the necklace. Had Matilde been contend with her situation in life, she need not have borrowed the necklace and experience the hardship.
Maupassant, Guy de. The Necklace.