From what point of view is "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant told?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" (sometimes referred to as "The Diamond Necklace") follows the tale of Madame Mathilde Loisel, who has married a clerk who makes very little money but valiantly attempts to make her happy nonetheless. Madame Loisel has always been desperate to be a part of the aristocracy, and she believes she finally has the opportunity to do so when her husband manages to secure an invitation for them to attend the Ministry of Education's party.

Madame Loisel initially throws a fit and refuses to go to the party because she does not believe she has anything fancy enough to wear and does not want to be embarrassed. Later, her husband gives her 400 francs to purchase new attire—money he had been saving to buy a hunting rifle. Madame Loisel buys a dress but is still displeased that she had no jewelry to go with it. Thus, she visits her friend Madame Jeanne Forestier, who allows her to borrow a huge diamond necklace.

After the party, Madame Loisel realizes that she has lost the necklace. Distraught, she decides to replace it rather than own up to her mistake, but she learns that the necklace will cost 40,000 francs to replace. Madame Loisel and her husband sell everything they own and take out high-interest loans to pay for the replacement. Ten years later, Madame Forestier runs into Madame Loisel (who is now in a horrific state of poverty) on the Champs-Élysées. It is then revealed that the original necklace was a fake made out of paste, worth a mere 500 francs. Madame Loisel has destroyed her life for nothing.

In order to give us the full scope of the events and the thoughts and feelings of each character, this story is told from a third-person omniscient perspective.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The clue to knowing from which point of view "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant is told can be found in the first sentence of the story.

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans.

Actually, the first word, she, is enough to let the readers know that the story is told from a third-person point of view. As the story progresses, we learn that the narrator knows what every character in the story thinks, which means the story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator.

What this means, of course, is that we get every character's perspective in the story, and it is the perfect choice for this particular tale. If Mathilde had been our narrator, we would have been made aware of everything she desires and deserves, but we would not have known that she actually has a pretty good life and just wallows in her discontent. We might have believed her dissatisfaction was merited if we had only heard her side of things; instead, we realize that she is just a discontented woman who has overestimated her own value.

If Monsieur Loisel had been our narrator, we would have been fairly clueless about what Mathilde is so upset about; and if Madame Forestier had narrated the story, we would not have had a clue about anything. A limited narrator might have given us the facts but not the feelings.

So, the third-person narrator is the best choice for this story.