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Compare/contrast Chopin and Maupassant as authors  in "The Necklace" and "The Story of...

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msmarcyfitch | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2010 at 3:13 AM via web

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Compare/contrast Chopin and Maupassant as authors  in "The Necklace" and "The Story of an Hour" with regard to style, sentence structure, etc.

The story is not what I need to compare; it is more so the authors and their styles that define them or make them similar.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 16, 2010 at 4:32 AM (Answer #1)

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Good question.  The two works are obviously similar in that they are relatively short and have a surprise ending.  What's difficult is that "The Necklace" is a translation, so it's hard to tell what's Maupassant and what's the translator regarding language and style. 

In general, both are told in an almost fairy-telling style. Both stories are told in third person, which means we read "she" quite often.  The tone and language in each is non-judgemental (factual), also like a fairy tale; what happens, happens and it's neither a good nor a bad thing from the narrator's perspective.

It gets trickier after that, again depending on the translation.  Take a look at the first lines of two different translations of the text:

"The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks."

"She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans."

Note the difference in style and language.  If I compare Chopin's writing to the first example, I'd say they were quite similar; the language is a bit antiquated and formal (perhaps even stilted) and the sentence structure is more complex than simple.  If, however, I compare Chopin's work to the second example, I'd have to say they are not as similar--"blundered" is not nearly as quaint and old-fashioned as "slip of fate."

In case you need to see it again, here is a random line from each work; the  first "Necklace" selection is the more modern translation, of course. 

"She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength."  ("Hour")

"She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing."  ("Necklace")

"She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was unhappy as if she had really fallen from a hgher station; since with women there is neither cast nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth." ("Necklace")

In general terms, both stories were written by Europeans in the same century, so there is undoubtedly some similarity; but an accurate analysis depends on the translation. 

 

 

Lori Steinbach

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 16, 2010 at 6:15 AM (Answer #2)

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A prevalent trope of Guy de Maupassant is his satire of the bougeoisie of France, its pettiness, its materialism.  Thus, his stories contain much social criticism, irony, symbolism, and psychological depth. His artistry with the short story has been mitigated by critics because of the apparent simplicity of his narratives.  However, many of these narratives are tight, ironic tales, such as "The Necklace" in which de Maupassant satirizes the pettiness and consuming materialism of Mathilde Loisel of the French bourgeoisie.  The final irony of Mme. Loisel's prideful concealment of the loss of the necklace points to the destructive force of her materialism and pettiness.

In a similar fashion, Kate Chopin exposes the constrictions of another social setting, that of the patriarchal Victorian era. The final irony of her narrative "The Story of an Hour"--also like "The Necklace" in its deceptively simple plot--points also to the destructiveness of the repression of the female spirit in the Victorian Age.

Of course, both authors employ symbolism with the necklace symbolizing Mme. Loisel's false value of materialism and Mrs. Mallard's awakening symbolized by the rebirth of nature witnessed by her as she gazes out her bedroom window after learning of her husband's apparent death.

The psychological depth of both stories is also similar.  All that Mathilde Loisel considers is her lack of material possessions that have kept her from being admired, "understood, loved, and married by a man both prosperous and famous."  Her consuming desire to material goods causes her to be selfish her bourgeois state with her husband and proud before her wealthy friend, Madame Forestier, a pride that becomes her nemesis.  In Chopin's story, Louise Mallard also feels the effects of her social position and has repressed her feelings to the point of having "a heart condition."  This repressed heart condition contributes to the final irony of her heart attack when she sees that her husband is yet alive while the psychological disturbances of Mme. Loisel contribute to her shock that she has lived a life wrought by her pride. 

 

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