Do you think there are people like Mme. Loisel today? 

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Mme. Loisel has an interesting collection of qualities and attitudes, some good, some not so good.  Let's look at them to see if there are people around still who have these. 

In the first paragraph we learn that Mme. Loisel is "pretty and charming" (1) and not very happy with her husband because she feels she has married beneath her.  In fact, we are told that she "suffered endlessly" (1) because she believes herself to deserve a richer life, in a more luxurious house, with nicer clothes, and more servants.  These give us two aspects to her that we can find in people today. 

First, Mme. Loisel has what we would today call a sense of entitlement.  There are plenty of people today who have a sense of entitlement, the belief that the world owes them more than they are getting, whether it is because they are attractive, have money, or are intelligent.  The world does not owe anyone anything, anymore than it owed Mme. Loisel. If you think about it, you are quite likely to know at least one person like this.

Second, Mme. Loisel is what I would call a "material girl." She cares more about things than people, and the more and better things she has, the happier she believes she will be.  Sadly, there are many people today who are like this, believing that somehow, whoever has the most toys wins the game.  They value things more than relationships, and this seems to reflect Mme. Loisel's values and priorities. 

We also learn that Mme. Loisel care more about impressing others than she does about being herself.  Her borrowing of the diamond necklace is meant to let those at the event she is attending believe her to be a woman of means, and of course, she is not.  She is willing to drain the family savings to purchase a dress, and she scoffs at her husband's suggestion that she adorn herself with flowers.  She says, "No . . . there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women"(5). So, Mme. Loisel is unwilling to simply be herself when attending this fancy event. 

There are people who are like this, today, certainly. They might drive cars they cannot afford to impress others. They buy designer bags for the same reason.  They might brag about eating in expensive restaurants and not be able to pay their electric bills. To be yourself is to live within your limits, not caring what others think of this.  I had an aunt that furnished her first apartment with porch furniture because she could not afford regular furniture.  There are many ways to be whole and happy, without the need to impress others, just by being yourself. 

Mme. Loisel is also dishonest.  Her presentation of herself is dishonest, and then she compounds that dishonesty by not telling her friend that she has lost the necklace.  It is this dishonestly that makes her have to work so hard and be so poor for the next ten years, to pay for the necklace she has replaced.

This is, of course, an extreme case of the consequences of dishonesty, and yet, there can be extreme consequences for dishonest people today, people who can be found anywhere, really.  I you lie in a relationship and the lie is discovered, you might find someone leaving you. If you misrepresent your qualifications for a job, you will lose that job if and when that misrepresentation is discovered.  There are people who, like Mme. Loisel, create their own tragedies through their dishonesty.

Finally, Mme. Loisel, whatever her flaws might be, does have a sense of honor.  She (and her husband) are deep in debt, and while it is because of her dishonesty that they are, she has a sense of obligation, a sense of commitment, to repaying the debt they have incurred, and she is willing and does work long and hard to fulfill that commitment.

Fortunately, people today are like Mme. Loisel in this way, too.  They take pride in fulfilling their obligations, they keep their promises, pay their bills, and they act with honor.  In fact, I would say that most people are like this.

Like any person in real life, Mme. Loisel is a collection of good and bad qualities and attitudes, and while no one has exactly the same collection of these, people today are no different. 

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