The Necklace Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace book cover
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How does the necklace change the way Madame Loisel perceives herself in "The Necklace"? Does it affect the way others at the party perceive her? Explain.

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In “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant describes a lovely young woman named Madam Loisel, who feels her social standing does not match up to her charm and elegance:

She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling...those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry.

When she and her husband are invited to an exclusive, high-class party, she buys an expensive dress and borrows the necklace of a friend. The necklace makes an immediate impact upon her: “Her hands trembled as she looked at it. She...remained lost in ecstasy at the sight of herself.”

At the party, Mdm. Loisel succeeds in making a splash:

She was prettier than them all, elegant, gracious, smiling and crazy with joy.

Maupassant, however, never mentions the necklace or any effect it has on the other guests at the ball. It remains an open question whether the necklace was part of Mdm. Loisel’s allure or whether the elegance she felt while wearing it made the difference. It is difficult to say how long she wore the necklace at the party at all, since that night she realizes it has gone missing. One reading of the end of the story—in which the necklace turns out to have been a fake all long—is Maupassant insisting that the quality of any thing or person only has internal value. Looks can be deceiving, but the way one feels, or the way something makes someone feel, could be the only marker of true value.

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