The Necklace Characters

Give a short description of all characters of "The Necklace," by Guy de Maupassant.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

MADAME MATHILDE LOISEL.  The protagonist of the story, Mathilde yearns for a better life and she is desirous of the riches that she sees around her. She is a beautiful woman--the most dazzling woman in the room when she attends the ball--and believes she is destined for greater luxuries of life. The ball becomes all-consuming to her, and she is greatly satisfied during the time she is there. But once the ball ends, Mathilde's life changes drastically. She resorts to the drudgerous life of hard housework and laundry, forsaking all luxuries until the loans are finally repaid. She ages greatly during the decade that passes.

MONSIEUR LOISEL.  Loisel is a simple middle class man, happy being a clerk with the Ministry of Public Instruction. He has no desire for upward mobility, and even praises Mathilde's simple meals. He is thrifty, for he has saved 400 francs in hopes of buying a gun. But his wife's happiness comes first, and he gives her his savings to buy a fancy dress for the ball. Following the loss of the necklaces, he works long hours to help repay the debt. 

MADAME JEANNE FORESTIER.  She is Mathilde's wealthy friend who loans her the necklace. Mathilde has always felt intimidated by her old friend's higher social status, but Jeanne treats Mathilde warmly when they meet, and she is happy to loan her the jewelry. When they meet years later, she does not recognize the greatly aged Mathilde. She is touched by the story of how the Loisels have slaved to repay their debt encountered for replacement of the lost necklace.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You may want to consider the necklace itself as an understood protagonist, and the cause of the basic problem of the story.

The necklace is not just a static nor plain object: It is a symbol of the desperate want of Madame Loiselle for a better life, a higher status, and the need for appearing successful to to the world.

The necklace, as an understood "character" changes throughout the story: At first, as readers, we think it is a gorgeous piece of art, worthy of thousands of francs. In reality, the necklace has duped the reader as it duped Madame Loiselle: It was nothing but a paste-based fake diamond piece of jewelry.

Therefore, the object itself is representative of what richness "appears to be": A world of glitz, glamour, shiny things and worthy of admiration. Yet, as we find out that the necklace is a fake, so is the fantasy of thinking that money can buy class, status, rank and, most importantly: happiness and satisfaction.