Personification In The Necklace

Give two examples of personification from the story "The Necklace."

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a number of examples of personification in "The Necklace." This is a literary technique whereby something that isn't human, such as an animal or an inanimate object, is endowed with human qualities. A particularly useful example in "The Necklace" comes in the description of Mathilde's humble lineage:

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

In this particular excerpt, fate has been personified. Fate does not blunder; only humans can do that. What the author is getting at here is the notion that fate made the mistake of putting Mathilde, a charming, pretty girl, into a lowly family of artisans. What's more, this corresponds to how Mathilde evaluates the conditions of her birth.

For this is a woman who regards herself as being possessed of noble blood. So the fact that she was born into such a humble family is a constant source of humiliation. Mathilde's firm belief that she's destined for better things will lead her to make the fateful decision to wear the titular necklace to the Education Ministry ball.

Then there's the personification used to describe the shabby appearance of the Loisels' cramped apartment:

All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.

No matter how bad the condition of someone's dwelling place, it cannot torment or insult anyone. But that's precisely how Mathilde feels; it's almost as if she's being attacked by her humble living conditions. Again, she thinks she's born to better things and so is aware of her domestic environment in a way that other women of her class would not be.

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When Madame Loisel goes to see her wealthy friend, Madame Forestier, she asks about borrowing some jewelry for the fancy party to which her husband has acquired an invitation. She looks through all the woman's goods and finally spots an exquisite diamond necklace, "and her heart began to beat with uncontrolled desire."  Although we often speak of hearts as the actual physical location of our feelings or emotions, this is not literally the case.  Our hearts do not actually feel emotion.  To describe Mathilde's heart as beating with an "uncontrolled desire" constitutes an example of personification and communicates just how desperately Madame Loisel wants the jewels. She desperately wants to feel elegant and rich, just like the other women who will be at the party.  Her heart does not actually feel desire; it merely describes the emotion as originating there in order to convey how intense it is.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personification entails awarding behaviors often done by humans to inanimate objects (or animals). Since these do not act like "persons",  authors use creative license to make these inanimate things act in a way that is more relatable to the reader.

One of the examples found in the story is:

those ancient night cabs which, as though they were ashamed to show their shabbiness during the day, are never seen round Paris until after dark.

This personification aims to emphasize on the ugliness of these night cabs by putting their description in context. Being in Paris society equals being "in the fashion". As such, you could never be seen wearing the wrong thing, talking to the wrong people, or even riding on the wrong set of wheels. In this excerpt, the cabs even feel so sorry for themselves that they would only come out at night for fear of being seen. In reality, whether they ride in the daylight or at night does not matter. The author just wants to make a point of sarcasm to make the reading more entertaining.

Another example of personification is:

she thought of dainty dinners, of shining silverware, of tapestry that peopled the walls with ancient personages and with strange birds flying in the midst of a fairy forest

Essentially this is telling us that the tapestry on the wall is decorated with ancient and important characters, "ancient personages". However, the fact that this decoration gives an ambiance in the room that makes it look like there are more persons in the room, and adds to the presence of the tapestry itself, the word "peopled" entails that it is bringing the people into the room. Again, this is another way of showing an inanimate object conducting human behaviors.

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