What forms of characterization are used in the short story "The Necklace"?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his short story, "The Necklace," Guy de Maupassant uses direct characterization when describing the main character Madame Loisel and we should also consider her to be a dynamic character because she changes during the course of the story. There are only two other characters in the story, her husband and Madame Forestier. Both could be considered flat or static characters because we know little about their personalities and they don't change.

Direct characterization is when the author tells us exactly what the character is like. We learn in the very first sentence that Madame Loisel is "pretty and charming," she was "unhappy," and she "grieved incessantly." The source of her unhappiness is that she wishes to be rich and lead the life of a wealthy woman. 

After losing the necklace and being forced into debt and poverty Madame Loisel undergoes a change. She goes from being "pretty and charming" to being "clad like a peasant woman." The text says,

Mme. Loisel appeared an old woman, now. She became heavy, rough, harsh, like one of the poor. Her hair untended, her skirts askew, her hands red, her voice shrill, she even slopped water on her floors and scrubbed them herself. 

Not only does her material life change drastically but we are also told that her personality is changed. Instead of the daydreaming, petulant young woman we meet in the opening lines she transforms to a determined woman who lives up to her responsibilities. The text says,

Mme. Loisel experienced the horrible life the needy live. She played her part, however, with sudden heroism. That frightful debt had to be paid. She would pay it.

The reader can't help but feel sorry for her at the end when it is revealed that the necklace was really a fake.

 

Read the study guide:
The Necklace

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