How does Guy de Maupassant try to make the character of Madame Loisel interesting for the reader in "The Necklace"?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" is a about a young woman who feels trapped in a mundane existence and yearns for a more exciting life which, she feels, is only lived by the very wealthy. She often daydreams about what it would be like in a different existence:

She thought of the silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry, lit by tall bronze candelabra, land of the two great footmen in knee-breeches who sleep in the big arm-chairs, made drowsy by the heavy warmth of the hot-air stove. She thought of the long salons fitted up with ancient silk, of the delicate furniture carrying priceless curiosities, and of the coquettish perfumed boudoirs made for talks at five o’clock with intimate friends, with men - famous and sought after, whom all women envy and whose attention they all desire. 

Her husband is a simple man yet very devoted to his wife and obviously feels her boredom because one day he brings home tickets for a very fancy ball which, he feels, is the perfect event to bring his wife out of the doldrums. She treats him rudely, suggesting she has nothing to wear to such an affair. Because he wants to please her, he acquiesces and agrees to give her money for a new dress. 

But, even after buying her a new dress for the occasion, the petulant young woman is not satisfied and wants more. Madame Loisel says,

 “It annoys me not to have a single jewel, not a single stone, nothing to put on. I shall look like distress. I should almost rather not go at all.”

Her husband suggests that she see her old friend, Madame Forestier to borrow some jewelry. Of course, the jewel she borrows is the necklace of the story's title.

Up to this point in the story Madame Loisel is only interesting in that we are in anticipation of what may happen next in the story. She has virtually no redeeming qualities other than the fact she is "pretty and charming." Indeed, her looks and charm make her the most sought after woman at the ball.

It isn't until after the ball that Madame Loisel becomes truly interesting by revealing herself as both a rounded and dynamic character. A dynamic character is one who changes over the course of a story. Her resilience in the face of hardship is remarkable. After losing the necklace at the ball and having to sacrifice most of her comforts to purchase a new one Madame Loisel tackles her new life with robust energy:

She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her rosy nails on the greasy pots and pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts, and the dish-cloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning, and carried up the water, stopping for breath at every landing. And, dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, her basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted, defending her miserable money sou by sou. 

Finally, at the end of the story, Madame Loisel displays simple pride when she once again meets her friend Madame Forestier. She is quite happy to tell the woman the truth about the necklace and how she and her husband went into poverty to replace the lost item. It is after we learn that the necklace was really quite worthless that we see Madame Loisel as a noble character who is the victim of circumstance and the very formal manners of 19th century France.

It is difficult to analyze De Maupassant's use of language in "The Necklace" because I am not reading the original French version of the story. In fact, there are several translations, each one a little different. I have provided the link to the translation I used. Even the top textbook companies in the U.S., including Holt and Prentice-Hall have chosen differing translations.

 

 

Sumaya Mazed | Student

thanks alot for answering my question.. its f9 about the use of language :)

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The Necklace

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