Madame Jeanne Forestier
Madame Forestier is a school friend of Mathilde Loisel, and she lends her the necklace that Madame Loisel wears to the ball. Madame Forestier's wealth has intimidated Madame Loisel, preventing her from keeping in touch with her old friend. When Madame Loisel does visit, Madame Forestier is as friendly as ever, generously offering to lend her friend a piece of her jewelry for the ball. When the diamond necklace is returned more than a week late, however, Madame Forestier is cold and reproachful. She does not know that the borrowed necklace was lost and that the Loisels have pledged themselves to years of debt to buy a costly replacement. Years later, the two meet on the street. Madame Loisel has aged prematurely by toil and hardship, while Madame Forestier is "still young, still beautiful, still attractive.'' She does not recognize her old friend when they meet and is ‘‘deeply moved’’ when she learns that the Loisels had spent the last decade in debt to replace her necklace.
Madame Mathilde Loisel
It is Madame Loisel's desire to be part of the upper class which sets the story's events in motion. She is a beautiful woman who feels herself "born for every delicacy and luxury." Her belief that she is meant for better things than middle-class drudgery forms the core of her personality. She believes that superficial things—a ball gown, better furniture, a large house—will make her...
(The entire section is 471 words.)
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Themes and Characters
It is a fallacy to assume that a story must contain only action, particularly if it is written by Maupassant. In this, as in many of his stories, there is little or no "action" and very little actually "happens" from the viewpoint of many readers. Yet in "The Necklace," mood and atmosphere are brilliantly created; in this and in many other stories by Maupassant, the sense of life is not diminished when no earth-shattering events happen.
When this story was written, the French Revolution loomed much closer in memory than it does now, and egalitarianism was still a fashionable idea. Though many aristocrats had been executed during the Revolution, a de facto aristocracy of wealth had sprung up. It should not escape the reader's notice that the wealthy Madame Forestier's name translates as "Mrs. Forest-Worker," a name that invokes images of men earning money by the sweat of their brow, not inheriting it.
One of Maupassant's themes in this story is that wealth is admired beyond reason. Matilda deserved the luxuries and leisure and pleasure of wealth no more and no less than anyone does. But when such trappings are hoarded by some and witheld from others, people invest far too much significance in them, as Matilda does. Her envy blinded her to the pleasure her husband took in a simple, but well-prepared meal.
Loisel is shown simply but clearly to be a man of modest talents and appetites, whom any reader should not only understand but...
(The entire section is 1563 words.)