In each story, the author uses extreme examples of class-consciousness, narcissism, and selfishness. The young couple in “The Proposal” care nothing for each other. The marriage is one of opportunity and advancement. In “The Necklace,” Matilda’s refusal to accept her status results in disaster, and she loses what little she has.
In “The Proposal,” the young couple argues about everything. There seems to be no love or affection, and only selfishness. This is demonstrated through Natalya’s reaction to Lomov insisting the Oxen Meadows are his.
Ours! You can go on proving it for two days on end, you can go and put on fifteen dress-jackets, but I tell you they're ours, ours, ours! I don't want anything of yours and I don't want to give up anything of mine. So there!
The irony is that if they marry, they would belong to Lomov anyway. Natalya is not willing to give up her independence, her property, or her rights.
In “The Necklace,” Mathilde has no compassion or appreciation. Her husband tries to placate her by getting an invitation to the ball, but she reacts in anger. He asks her what is wrong.
“Nothing. Only I have no clothes, and in consequence I cannot go to this party. Give your card to some colleague whose wife has a better outfit than I.”
In each case, the author does not impose his or her reflection. The characters’ caustic dialogue demonstrate their painfully selfish ways. In each case, the style is satirical and directed at the upper class.