Considering the incredible effects she has had on all the attendees at the ball, would a reader be correct to define Mathilde Loisel as an extraordinary person/woman in "The Necklace"? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Since Madame Loisel's attendance at the ball held at the Ministerial Mansion dazzles the male guests for reasons that are not substantive, it seems that she only appears extraordinary, as her subsequent actions prove. 

As in many of his stories, Guy de Maupassant exposes the pettiness and superficiality of the residents of northwestern France through the character of Mathilde Loisel. 

She grieved incessantly, feeling that she had been born for all the little niceties and luxuries of living....The sight of the little Breton girl who did her humble housework roused in her disconsolate regrets and wild daydreams.

Mme. Loisel dreams of owning evening clothes and jewels and being in great reception halls of silken walls and priceless curios:

...she felt that was the kind of life for her.  She so much longed to please, be envied, be fascinating and sought after.

However, when her husband brings home an invitation to an "evening reception" at the Ministerial Mansion, thinking his wife will be thrilled, the dissatified and petulant Mathilde Loisel complains that she has nothing to wear to such an affair. So, Monsieur Loisel offers to buy her a gown and suggests that she borrow a necklace from an old school friend. Satisfied, Mme. Loisel visits her friend and prepares for the ball.

When the evening arrives, Mme. Loisel is a "sensation":

She was the prettiest one there, fashionable, gracious, smiling, and wild with joy. All the men turned to look at her, asked who she was, begged to be introduced. All the Cabinet officials wanted to waltz with her. The minister took notice of her.

Because she is beautiful and "new" at this ball, Mme. Loisel draws attention. As a result, she delights in the male adulation she receives; excited, wild with joy, she appears even more beautiful to the male guests. Because she is unique this night, she also seems more fascinating than she really is. For, after she returns home and discovers that the necklace is gone, Mathilde Loisel demonstrates her false pride because she does not notify her friend of the loss, but, instead, goes out and purchases a diamond necklace as a replacement. Further, she forces her husband into the situation as he must spend his inheritance, borrow money, and work day and night as she quarrels with the grocer to pay the debt incurred by the purchase of this necklace.

Then, because of Mathilde's false pride, the Loisels later learn that the borrowed necklace was merely costume jewelry. In the end, the really only remarkable things about Mathilde Loisel are her preoccupation with materialism and her selfish pride; her charm and beauty have been only superficial. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial