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No doubt, "The Necklace" is one of Maupassant's greatest short stories:
Like most of Maupassant's short fiction, it was an instant success, and it has become his most widely read and anthologized story. In addition to its well-rounded characters, tight plotting, wealth of detail, and keen social commentary, ''The Necklace'' is conspicuous for its use of the "whip-crack" or ‘‘O. Henry’’ ending, in which a plot twist at the end of the story completely changes the story's meaning.
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupssant is one of his greatest short stories. In this short story, Maupassant teaches the reader a lesson about the important things in life. Madame Loisel is unappreciative. She is miserable. She feels she was born for the finer things in lIfe.
In reality, Madame Loisel has so much for which to be thankful. She has a husband who loves her. She has a maid. She has many blessings that she takes for granted. She is beautiful and does not realize it.
After she borrows and loses her friend's necklace, she has to work extra hard to pay off the debt. She grows old quickly from all the hard work of her extra jobs. She scrubbs floors and breaks her fingernails.
In this story, Maupassant not only teaches the reader a valuable lesson, but he teaches the main character a valuable lesson. Madame Loisel learns to appreciate the simple things in life. She appreciates a simple stroll along the river. She learns that life is to be enjoyed in its simplicity.
Through an omniscient third-person point-of-view, Maupassant uses a nonjudgemental narrator. The narrator just presents the story as it unfolds. Still, the reader can read in between the lines. The reader realizes that Madame Loisel is an ungrateful character who should aprreciate the fact that she has a husband who dotes upon her.
Irony is Maupassant's main literary device in "The Necklace." Ironically, the necklace turns out to be a fake. Madame Loisel lives a life of pretense. She allows her greed to ruin her life. The irony of it all is that Madame Loisel pretends to be something she is not. In reality, Madame Loisel had so much for which to be thankful. Ultimately, Madame Loisel learns to be content with the simple life she has been born to live.
I once tried to read all of Guy de Maupassant's short stories. I went to some trouble to make a complete list of titles and then to finding many of them at the public library. He wrote something like 350 short stories, I believe. I may have read about 150 of them, as well as all his four or five novels. In my opinion the most original and most emotionally gripping of his stories is "The Horla." It is told in the form of a first-person narration by a man who is keeping a journal. He believes he is being visited during the nights by a monster who intends to kill him. He never sees this thing he calls "The Horla" but finds evidence that it has been there. The enotes summary of Maupassant's "The Horla" ends with the following paragraph.
Unable to rid himself of the spirit in any other way, the narrator sets fire to the country home. The screams of his servants reveal that he has neglected to warn anyone of his plans, and all of the servants perish in the blaze. Nevertheless, the narrator is uncertain whether the creature itself has been killed. If it has not, the narrator concludes that his only recourse is suicide.
The author who can best compare with Maupassant, at least with respect to the French author's highly imaginative gothic-type tales, is, obviously, Edgar Allan Poe. The American literary genius was extremely popular in France and elsewhere in Europe, largely because of the influence of the French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), who admired Poe to the point of worship. Baudelaire translated many of Poe's poems and stories into French. Poe died in 1849 and Maupassant was born in 1850.
In Fleurs du mal Charles Baudelaire often writes about the same themes and subjects as Edgar Allan Poe, no mere coincidence since Baudelaire saw in Poe a kindred spirit. Indeed, the Frenchman spent some seventeen years translating the works of the American, often neglecting his own writing to do so.
Gary Wayne Harner, "Edgar Allan Poe in France: Baudelaire's Labor of Love," in Poe and His Times, the Artist and His Milieu, 1990
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