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Author Guy de Maupassant uses the necklace to illustrate the primary themes of his classic short story.
- GREED VS. GENEROSITY. Mathilde shows a greedy streak through the first part of the story (until she loses the necklace). She badgers her husband into using his savings to buy her an expensive dress, but she still isn't happy until she visits her old friend, Madame Forestier, and borrows the necklace. Monsieur Loisel's and Madame Forestier's generosity is a stark contrast to Mathilde's greed for the spotlight.
- CLASS CONFLICT. The necklace, Mathilde believes, is necessary for her to convince everyone at the ball that she and her husband--mere lower class bourgeoisie--deserve to attend such a high brow event. The dress alone was not enough; it was the necklace that completed Mathilde's transformation.
- APPEARANCE VS. REALITY. Little is what it seems to be in "The Necklace"--especially the necklace. Mathilde believes the necklace will fool everyone into believing she is the belle of the ball, and her wish is fulfilled. However, the necklace is nothing but paste, a fact that neither she nor anyone else in attendance realizes. The loss of the necklace and the resulting expense of purchasing a replacement reduces what seemed to be a drab life into one of utter hardship for Mathilede and her husband. The fact that the genuine diamond necklace that was returned was not even recognized as authentic by Madame Forestier (and why such a wealthy woman would own such a cheap knockoff) is even more ironic.
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