What is a brief description of the short story "The Necklace"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“The Necklace” is a tale of a woman who has all she needs, but is not satisfied.  It is the story of a young French woman named Mathilde Loisel who was born beautiful, but not born rich.

Mathilde is very materialistic.

Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. (p. 1)

One day, her husband (who is not named) comes home with an invitation to a fancy ball.  He thought she would be thrilled, because it is a very important social event and it is hard to get tickets, especially for a clerk.  He is surprised by her reaction.  She is angry, and then sad.  She tells him she has nothing to wear, and he offers to give her the money he has saved for a hunting trip.  Then she says she was no jewels, and he again offers a suggestion.

"Go look up your friend, Madame Forestier, and ask her to lend you some jewels. You're intimate enough with her to do that." (p. 3)

They go to the ball, and Mathilde is wonderful.  She looks stunning, and she is very happy.  As they are leaving, she realizes that she lost the necklace she borrowed from her rich friend.

Her husband once again swoops in to save the day.  He tells her to write that the clasp is broken, and takes out a loan to replace the necklace.  Then he and Mathilde labor on for ten years to repay the debt.

Thereafter Madame Loisel knew the horrible existence of the needy. She bore her part, however, with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it. (p. 6)

In the end, Mathilde runs into her friend Madame Forestier.  She does not recognize how old and ragged Mathilde looks.  Mathilde tells her only then that she had to replace the necklace, and it took her ten years.  Madame Forestier is surprised, and tells her the necklace was a fake.

The great irony of the story is that Mathilde’s pride literally was her downfall.  She refused to tell Madame Forestier that she lost the necklace, and so she lost her beauty and what little comfort she had to replace it.  She spent ten years destroying herself to replace a fake necklace with a real one.

sunithasrivastava | Student

This is one of finely crafted stories penned by Guy De Maupassant. He is regarded as one of the greatest French short-story writers. His stories revolve around the things of everyday life.

The story at hand exposes the greediness of a lady, Matilda who is not satisfied with what she possess. She is having strong craving for the luxury and elite living style, which her husband cannot give it to her. However, they are leading a very comfortable life.She is proud of her beauty and day dreams of the high living style and spending her time with noted people of the city.She does not want to exopse her mediocre life style to anyone. For this reason, she invites trouble for herself for one day but the situation results in  long term suffering.

The reason for her suffering is, her show off nature. One day, her husband receives an invitation at Minister's residence saying that, the couple is invited for a grand party. She refuses to go giving the reason that she doesn't possess proper attire and jewellery for such grand occasion. However her mild tempered husband provides her four hundred francs for her formal party dress. For jewellery, he suggests to borrow from one of her intimate friends, Madame Forestier. Matilda is received by her very warmly and displays the jewellery for her choice. Ultimately, Matilda chooses a stunning diamond studded necklace.

At the party, she looks the prettiest of all and every men present over there wishes to dance with her. It was the most joyful moment for her. When she returns from the ball, she stands in front of the mirror to praise herself and finds her neck without necklace. Her husband searches every possible place but fails to find it. At last, she takes time from her friend to return it after it is repaired, as it's clasp was broken. They inquire from jewellery shop for the price of the same designed one and finds it forty thousand francs. Mr.Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which was left by his father and the rest money they manage by taking loan. They purchase the diamond necklace and give it to Madame Forestier.

The real sorrow begins after this. They shift their house to a smaller one. Mr. Loisel takes up part time job and Matilda does all household work which was eariler done by maid servant.This lasts for ten years until they pay back their debts. Matilda loses her beauty and charm of which she was proud of.

One Sunday, she finds her friend in the market and stops her to talk. But Madame Forestier is surprised to find her friend in such a condition. Then Matilda reveals the reason for her condition, as to what all suffering she took, to manage money for the diamond necklace. Her friend feels very sorry to learn the sad story,then she says the necklace was artificial one.