What is the situational and dramatic irony in The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Situational irony refers to circumstances in which characters find themselves which suggest a specific outcome but that the opposite of such an expectation happens. A good example from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet would be when Romeo, having the best of intentions, intervenes in the duel between his best friend, Mercutio, and his sworn enemy, Tybalt. In doing so, he provides Tybalt an opportunity to fatally wound Mercutio. The outcome, therefore, is not what was expected. It is, ironically, exactly the opposite.

Dramatic irony occurs where the reader knows something that a character or characters does not. A good example is the play, Othello, by William Shakespeare. The readers are aware throughout of Iago's deceit and manipulation whilst Othello, Iago's victim, is completely unaware and only discovers the truth at the end.

In The Necklace, situational irony occurs through Mathilde's belief that the seeming wealth that she wishes to present will make her happy. She practically blackmails her husband into giving her money for an expensive dress and borrows a beautiful necklace from her wealthy friend, Madame Forestier. The irony lies in the fact that her indulgence brings them greater grief than she could possibly have imagined.

Situational irony also lies in the fact that Mathilde asked her friend for the necklace so that she may further enhance her image. She truly believes that the item she chooses is the genuine article. When she loses it, she and her husband replace it and lose everything they have in the process. It takes them ten years to rebuild the life they had. It is only at the end that Mathilde discovers that the precious item had actually been a cheap copy. The money and time that they had wasted had all been for nothing.

There is an element of dramatic irony in the story. This occurs, firstly, when Mathilde writes to Madame Forestier that she could not return the necklace since she had to have the clasp repaired. We, the readers, know that the necklace had been lost, whilst her friend does not.

A second moment of dramatic irony occurs when Madame Forestier (Mathilde's friend) tells her, when she returns the necklace they had spent all their money to replace:

"You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it."

The readers know that it was impossible to return the necklace earlier since it had been lost. Also, Mathilde and her husband needed time to get the money in order to replace what they believed was a thirty six thousand franc necklace when, in fact, it was worth 'at the very most five hundred francs!'


scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Situational irony is, simply put, when the opposite of what one expects to happen occurs.  In "The Necklace," Guy de Maupassant relies once again on his dark situational irony to end the story and advance his theme.  At the end of the story, Mathilde who despises hard labor and anything unglamorous discovers that she has sacrificed the best years of her life to replace a necklace that she discovers is a fake.  Someone who prided herself in such taste and appearance could not even tell the difference between the artificial and valuable.

While this story does not have much dramatic irony, de Maupassant does include some in that Madame Forestier knows all along that the necklace is not real and chooses not to tell Mathilde earlier.  Thus, a character in the story is privy to information that another character does not know.

alpha-03's profile pic

alpha-03 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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in the story of "THE NECKLACE " their arer many irony's

  • when his husband brings the invitiation card for the ball of his minister. She through the card and tell what she can do with this card(she wants all good to happen in her life.).
  • she likes her friend forester so much ,but when she went to her friends house from then she was jealous,shy and feels poor. 


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