How does Madame Loisel change as a result of her experience in "The Necklace"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Necklace" Madame Loisel's appearance is greatly altered as, in her pride, she refuses to tell her friend that she has lost the borrowed necklace.  Instead she and her husband repay the "frightful debt" by M. Loisel's working nights.  For ten years they work; doing all the housework, Mme. Loisel becomes "heavy, rough, harsh, like one of the poor.  Her hair untended, her skirts askew, her hands red, her voice shrill...." No longer is there any trace of the "pretty and charming girl."

However, Madame Loisel has not changed in her attitude; she is still proud and values material things over spiritual ones.  For, she does not demonstrate any gratitude to her husband for his sacrifices on her behalf.  Just as she is ungrateful for his using the money he has saved for a rifle to buy the gown for the reception in the beginning of the story, she demonstrates no gratitude for his years of labor and sacrifice.  It is only important to have the gown, or to earn the money to repay their debt on the diamond necklace.

When Mme. Loisel encounters her former friend from whom she has borrowed the fateful necklace, she approaches the lady, telling her proudly how she has replaced the borrowed necklace and paid for it:

Mme. Forestier stopped short. 'You mean to say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?' 

'Yes.You never noticed, then? They were quite alike.'

And she [Mme. Loisel] smiled with proud and simple joy.

To the end Mme. Loisel tragically retains the perverse pride she has in valuing the wrong things, one of which is "only paste."

mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She learns how to work hard and to be proud of what you can earn from that hard work.  At the beginning of the story, we see a petulant, whiny woman who is dissatisfied with everything around her, and always wanting more.  But, she does little more than whine about it, and never thinks of using her own ingenuity to better her station in life.  At the end of the story, she has spent ten years of her adult life living a much altered lifestyle.  She "came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen...and dressed like a woman of the people."  Of her hard work, she is proud, and "she smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous" when she discovers that Madame Forestier was none the wiser about the necklace.

Another change in Madame Loisel is that she learns humility.  She lived the life of a spoiled and proud woman before the necklace, and sat at ever meal and "thought of dainty dinners, of shining silverware".  She pines to be with great people, at great balls, and to have a great house.  At the end though, she is just a person working hard to earn her bread.  Only once in a while  does she pine, but more maturely.  Instead of moping and whining she thinks, "What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? who knows? How strange and changeful is life!"  She thinks of it as a life lesson, and goes about her work.  She is humbled by her experiences, and no longer the materialistic woman she used to be.

srushti810 | Student

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srushti810 | Student