How does "The Necklace" relate to the idea of hopes and dreams? Would it be because Mme. Loisel wishes to be wealthy? 

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The hopes and dreams of Mme. Loisel for wealth play a central part in "The Necklace."  The diamond necklace is a symbol of these hopes and dreams and of the wealth that she finds unobtainable at the end of the story. Wealth is a more complicated concept that simply having lots of money, though, and the story has a great deal to tell us about this, too.  

As the story opens, we learn that Mme. Loisel was "one of those pretty and charming girls" (1) who was born into a lower-class family. In that time and place, there was little social mobility, and this meant that if you were born in a lower-class family, you were pretty much stuck there.  For women in that day, this was even more true.  Unlike today, when a woman can get an education and earn her own wealth and status, a woman's status was based strictly on the class of the husband she married, and a lower-class woman usually had no choice but to marry a lower-class man. 

However, because of her beauty and charm, Mme. Loisel developed a sense of entitlement. She believed she deserved a better, in other words, wealthier husband, so when she was married off to a poor government clerk, she "suffered endlessly" (1). Nothing was good enough for her, and her hopes and dreams festered.  

What happens next is like a cruel version of the fairy tale Cinderella. Mme. Loisel is invited to the ball. Her friend, like a fairy godmother, lends her a diamond necklace.  Mme. Loisel is a huge success at the ball.  But when she loses the necklace, there is no prince to retrieve it and rescue her. Instead, she is condemned to years of hard labor, more tattered clothing, an impoverished life, worse than had she never gone to the ball in the first place.

What does this story tell us about hopes and dreams and wealth?  Different people will give you different answers to this question, of course.  But what I take away from this story is that hopes and dreams of wealth that cause you to act dishonestly and fail to appreciate the riches you do have are not hopes and dreams worth having.  Mme. Loisel had a loving husband, a kind friend, a roof over her head, and food on her table.  Her hopes and dreams prevented her from appreciating what she did have, and they led her to dishonesty and a sad end. 

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