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Throughout the exposition of the story, Mathilde Loisel is described first as a "pretty and charming" girl, who appears as though she is from a prominent family, but has, unfortunately, been born into a family who work as government clerks because she lacks a dowry and, therefore, cannot marry into an upper class family.
Then, the fact that she must settle for being married to a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education is the cause of Mathilde's discontent. For, she feels that she has been born for a more charming life in which she has beautiful furnishings, jewels, clothes, and other luxuries. She desires to be in high society where she can be admired by men "whose attention every woman envies and longs to attract."
It is these material things that Madame Loisel envies; in fact, the desire for riches and the attention of high society is so uppermost in her mind that when she visits a well-to-do friend, rather than enjoying the woman's company, she returns home and weeps for days from the anguish of not having such luxuries herself. Mathilde Loisel is consumed with materialistic desires.
Thus, the first six paragraphs provide the description of Mathilde Loisel and her defining characteristic of desire for material possessions and the admiration that she feels such things as jewels and beautiful clothes will elicit.
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