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The story creates some distance from the characters through the use of a third person omniscience narrator. Although we follow Mathilde most of the time, we are not inside her head alone and she does not tell the story firsthand. This distance allows us to get a clear picture of her, and the other characters, and allows us to judge them.
Our first introduction of Mathilde is almost fairy-tale like.
The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks. (p.1)
The juxtaposition between Mathilde’s beauty and her poverty foreshadow other elements of her character. We know that she expects more, or thinks she deserves more. Mathilde acts “as if she had really fallen from a higher station.” Mathilde is said to have “suffered ceaselessly” and to be “distressed” at the poverty present in her house and her clothes.
By presenting Mathilde first, we know that she will be the driving force of the story. We also know from the discussion of how unhappy she is that there is likely to be more to it. The story does turn out to be about the consequences of Mathilde’s greed.
When Mathilde’s husband is introduced, we seem him through her eyes. He is surprised when she is not happy about the party invitation. He is clueless about his wife’s feelings. Monsieur Loisel is a fairly insignificant character. He is not even given a name. He is a hapless victim of his wife’s whims.
But one evening her husband reached home with a triumphant air and holding a large envelope in his hand.
Monsieur Loisel is mostly introduced through his dialogue with Mathilde and his reaction to her moods. He is ready to give into Mathilde to make her happy.
He has hopes and dreams too. He was planning to save up to buy a gun to go out with friends. Yet while Mathilde thinks nothing of his giving her the money he saved, he is willing to give up his happiness for hers.
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