The Necklace by Guy De Maupassant
In society, we all have unlimited wants and desires.We never tend to realize what we have is enough to satisfy our needs and that our wants are better off arriving as unexpected opportunities.In Guy De Maupassant’s “The Necklace” a woman horribly suffers morally, emotionally, and physically because she believes she deserves more than what she has.
In “The Necklace”, Matilde and M.
Loisel, her husband, are from a poor upbringing with not much leisure time. M. Loisel sacrifices his spare money to buy his demanding wife a dress to go to a royal ball upon invitation. Still unsatisfied with her subpar attire; she believes she must have the most glorious jewelry to seem composed with high ranking society. Matilde borrows a breathtaking necklace from Madame Forestier to wear to the ball, which she later misplaces.
The pair conjure up a plan to buy an extravagant look-a-like necklace to give to Madame Forestier, despite the hefty price tag. Both M. Loisel and Matilde painfully trek through 10 years of poverty until they are able to repay the debt later to find out that Matilde had borrowed an ersatz necklace (Maupassant). Matilde’s momentary desires are the culprit to her perpetual downfall. Her pathetic short-term actions create long-term moral suffering.
Indeed, Matilde’s indulgent nature acts as blinkers of harsh reality. The pressure to fit in with higher class society to obtain happiness subsided her rational thinking. Matilde is an odd fellow who seemingly practices individualism and egocentrism rather than collectivism and sociocentrism. If only she had a clear mind to rectify that her wellbeing as adequate without all the glitz and glamour of finer things in life.
The ignorant woman decides to uphold materialistic items over the stability of her marriage and finances. Depressingly, Matilde knows herself and M. Loisel are on a fixed budget in that “she reflected for several seconds…” as if she is pondering her morals. She was determining “…what sum could she ask for without drawing herself immediate refusal” when buying her new gown for the ball. It is not until Matilde realizes she had lost the necklace she decides to activate some God-given sense.
Her unintentional disruption morphs into awareness of wrong doing as “she sat waiting…without any fire, without any thought”. Matilde knows she has messed up and is shocked about the negative consequences that are going to come from this mishap. Thankfully, she has the sensation of ignominy and deep responsibility to materialistically reimburse her friend and attempt to reconstruct her wrong doing.
Matilde knows the “…dreadful debt must be paid” for the sake of not tarnishing her name, her husband’s name, and friendship with Madame Forestier. Kohlberg would be disappointed that Matilde could barely breach into the interpersonal concordance orientation; Matilde is only doing what is right for personal gain. This is not the only way in which M. Loisel’s wife suffers internally.
Furthermore, Matilde gains a strong feeling of self-opprobrium due to the severity of her negative actions which creates emotional distress. She struggles to emotionally regain stability after her reckless payment of buying a high-priced necklace. Even before the necklace, she believed she had “…no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded [by a man of high status]”, ultimately feeling there is a lack of affection and name recognition compared to her counterparts.
She has an extreme pessimistic outlook on the life she had before. Matilde is too busy comparing herself to others to come to terms with her own life. There is nothing wrong with self-evaluation, however, when there becomes an obsession and near downplay of one’s own life then a problem begins to arise. To add insult to injury, her superiors “tormented and insulted her” which lowered her self-esteem. Matilde has both external and internal ailments that she cannot help but relinquish her mind to.
Matilde is a person who always consistently needs the opinions of others to feel validated. She wants others to please her and to please others in the finest of ways. Matilde yearns for exquisite taste which she believes correlates to happiness. These downgraded thoughts began to metastasize in her mind. Due to her materialistic nature and her yearning for acceptance, Matilde inflicted her own atrophy. Happiness comes from experience, but she is too myopic to understand authentic gaiety. Thus, Matilde must endure the ramifications of trying to fit in where there is no necessity for belonging. This is not the only form of disgraceful Matilde’s suffering.
Differing from previous times, Matilde now lives a pitiful life. She now suffers physically from a pricey misplacement. Before Matilde had a “Brenton girl” as a maid for her somewhat outdated yet sturdy home. She seemed okay for herself since she had a young woman commencing in harsh tasks that she never had to drop a bead of sweat. Now she is a part of an even lesser class who truly understands work and is blessed to simply be able to see the sunrise each day.
Evidently, she has “…came to know housework…” as a result of her increase in mandatory chores. Matilde’s “dainty fingers on… greasy pots and pans…” is such a bewildering contrast from the freeloading life she had before to the harsh labor she must endure. Debt is an invisible figment of economy that is detrimental to all and should not be beleaguered (messed with). Her delicate appearance vanished when compared to the ageless Madame Forestier; now Matilde creeps around with “frowsy hair…and red hands”.
Matilde now has a mundane glow to herself; she would be the sore thumb of the elite. Her hideous appearance and drudgery are now her new norms. She gave up a life of slight caliber to a simple bourgeoisie for a mediocre necklace. Matilde could have still been a polished woman if she did not uphold her values in materialistic items.
So Baum, you prove to have made a character with ravishing intellect after all. Maybe Matilde could have acquired insightful thinking from The Scarecrow. In conclusion, this pathetic excuse for the female subculture deserves to rot in her pile of puerility. Matilde deserves every ounce of pungent suffering to equate to her lack of level headedness. She is a prime example of those who are not satisfied with their possessions until it disappears.
Moral, emotional, and physical languish could have been prevented if she accepted her lifestyle. She could have gone to the royal ball and have been the woman of the hour with her enchanted dress and her untouchable flower headdress. Matilde could have accepted her flaws and stand out from the crowd. Maybe, she could have started her own trend and fulfill her goals of being adored and accepting. Instead, Matilde’s egocentric thoughts have composed utter despair.
There is no need to pity someone so incompetent of self-worth. Matilde has even caused her husband, a good soul, to accompany her despair. She still would have gained the same extravagant experience with or without exclusive attire. Obviously, her resolution would be different if she had this mentality. This proves it is okay to accept the life one has because we only have one, and we should reconcile with our cards dealt to us in life. If we were to ever want something in life, we should focus on hard work and opportunity to be able to strive for belongings that are not needed.
De Maupassant, Guy. ‘The Necklace’. YouTube, uploaded by Librivox, 26 August 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hSqcvhhad4
Word Count (without citation above): 1287