According to the story "The Necklace," what makes women important?

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Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace " is set in Paris, France during the 19th century, which was a time when a women's worth was primarily related to her appearance or wealth. In the story, a woman is only considered "important" if she is wealthy or extremely...

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Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" is set in Paris, France during the 19th century, which was a time when a women's worth was primarily related to her appearance or wealth. In the story, a woman is only considered "important" if she is wealthy or extremely attractive. Maupassant writes that there is "neither caste nor rank" that distinguishes women because their beauty, charm, and elegance can transcend social status. Essentially, a poor, attractive woman can ascend the social ladder by marrying a wealthy man and is considered equal to a woman born into wealth.

Mathilde Loisel is the protagonist of the story. She was born without a dowry and does not hail from a revered, upper-class family. She ends up marrying a lowly clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction. Despite coming from a poor family, Mathilde's looks are not enough to attract a wealthy man, which is why she agrees to marry a clerk. Although Mathilde lives a modest life, she is extremely superficial and believes that she deserves to enjoy a life of luxury.

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Within the setting of this story in the late 1800's a woman is more "important" as the question asks--meaning given more consideration--if she has a dowry and social connections; in other words, money and social status.

The lack of a dowry and "prospects, no way of any kind of being met" are what preclude Matilde's marriage to someone of a high social position. Consequently, she marries a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education. This marriage is one that she feels is beneath her because her "beauty, grace and charm" should elevate her. As a result, she feels that she has been wronged since she is meant for a different kind of life: "She longed to please, be envied, be fascinating and sought after."

When she is given the opportunity to attend a ball where the prestigious people, who would have been "prospects," are present, Matilde Loisel is finally happy. However, this contentment is only temporal as the evening ends badly. For, she has lost what she believes is a diamond necklace, a necklace she has borrowed from a former school friend. Her importance was a mere illusion.

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