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Why did Mme. Forestier have a fake necklace in "The Necklace"? Why would Mme. Forestier...

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM via web

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Why did Mme. Forestier have a fake necklace in "The Necklace"?

Why would Mme. Forestier want to own an imitation diamond necklace when she must have realized that anybody who knew anything about jewelry would recognize it as a fake and why wouldn't she warn Mme. Loisel that it was a fake made of glass when she asked to borrow it?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 26, 2013 at 8:36 PM (Answer #2)

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Madame Forester did not tell Mathilde the necklace was a fake because she wanted her to feel good about herself, thinking she was wearing a real diamond necklace.

In “The Necklace” the plot revolves around Mathilde, a poor woman who borrows a necklace from her friend and then loses it and goes into debt trying to replace it.  Mathilde’s husband gets an invitation to the ball, but she worries that she does not have good enough clothes.  Her husband tells her to borrow a jewel from her friend Madame Forester, because she knows her “well enough to do that” (p. 3).

This implies that Mathilde does not really know Madame Forester well.  She only knows her “well enough.”  It makes sense that they would not be close friends, because they belong to different classes and will run in different social circles.  As a result, Madame Forester probably does not trust Mathilde enough to lend her a real diamond, but she wants her to feel good about herself so she lends her the fake one.

Notice first that Madame Forester does not pick the necklace out.  She offers for Mathilde to take a look, and she does not like what she sees.  Is it possible that Madame Forester has a lot of jewels of good workmanship, but not really worth much?  Chances are she has other jewels kept in a safe place, rather than a box, and those are the real ones.  That is why there was nothing valuable in the box Mathilde looked through.  When she asks to borrow it, she does not expect Madame Forester to say yes.

Then she asked, hesitating, filled with anxious doubt:

"Will you lend me this, only this?"

"Why, yes, certainly." (p. 4)

There is no hesitation at all.  In fact, Madame Forester seems surprised Mathilde would doubt her.  She might assume that Mathilde knows that the necklace is fake.  Her response when Mathilde gives her the real diamond seems to support this interpretation.  She is “deeply moved” when she learns that Mathilde worked for so long to pay off the necklace.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!" (p. 7)

The fault does not lie with Madame Forester.  Mathilde is the one who lost the necklace and did not tell her “friend.”  She was the deceptive one.  Madame Forester did not tell her the necklace was fake, but she did not tell her it was real either.  She likely assumed Mathilde could tell the difference, or did not want to burst her bubble.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2013 at 2:43 AM (Answer #3)

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Madame Forester did not tell Mathilde the necklace was a fake because she wanted her to feel good about herself, thinking she was wearing a real diamond necklace.

In “The Necklace” the plot revolves around Mathilde, a poor woman who borrows a necklace from her friend and then loses it and goes into debt trying to replace it.  Mathilde’s husband gets an invitation to the ball, but she worries that she does not have good enough clothes.  Her husband tells her to borrow a jewel from her friend Madame Forester, because she knows her “well enough to do that” (p. 3).

This implies that Mathilde does not really know Madame Forester well.  She only knows her “well enough.”  It makes sense that they would not be close friends, because they belong to different classes and will run in different social circles.  As a result, Madame Forester probably does not trust Mathilde enough to lend her a real diamond, but she wants her to feel good about herself so she lends her the fake one.

Notice first that Madame Forester does not pick the necklace out.  She offers for Mathilde to take a look, and she does not like what she sees.  Is it possible that Madame Forester has a lot of jewels of good workmanship, but not really worth much?  Chances are she has other jewels kept in a safe place, rather than a box, and those are the real ones.  That is why there was nothing valuable in the box Mathilde looked through.  When she asks to borrow it, she does not expect Madame Forester to say yes.

Then she asked, hesitating, filled with anxious doubt:

"Will you lend me this, only this?"

"Why, yes, certainly." (p. 4)

There is no hesitation at all.  In fact, Madame Forester seems surprised Mathilde would doubt her.  She might assume that Mathilde knows that the necklace is fake.  Her response when Mathilde gives her the real diamond seems to support this interpretation.  She is “deeply moved” when she learns that Mathilde worked for so long to pay off the necklace.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!" (p. 7)

The fault does not lie with Madame Forester.  Mathilde is the one who lost the necklace and did not tell her “friend.”  She was the deceptive one.  Madame Forester did not tell her the necklace was fake, but she did not tell her it was real either.  She likely assumed Mathilde could tell the difference, or did not want to burst her bubble.


Your answers are plausible, but one of the things that bothers me is this: Mme. Forestier either had to assume Mathilde knew or did not know the necklace was a fake. If Mathilde knew it was a fake, would she want to wear it to an important ball where knowledgeable men and women would see it was a fake? If she thought it was real, shouldn't her friend have warned her that it was not, so that the poor, naive young woman wouldn't spend the whole evening dancinig with men who were well aware it was a fake and would assume she was trying to deceive people?

My other question had to do with why a rich woman should collect what was actually junk jewelry? If she acquired it, she must have worn it herself. If so, wasn't she aware that many people would feel contempt for her because they would recognize it as junk?

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