How is Monsieur Loisel to be blamed for the misery he endures?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a very good question. Monsieur Loisel is to be blamed for the misery he endures because it was mainly his idea to replace the lost necklace rather than tell Madame Forestier the truth and offer to pay her for it in installments. No doubt Loisel's wife, Mathilde, would have gone directly to her friend and confessed that she had lost the necklace. If she had actually done that, she would have learned that it was a fake, and she could have paid Madame Forestier its actual value of five hundred francs on the spot. But why did Monsieur Loisel immediately think of a much more complicated and expensive alternative?

"You must write to your friend," said he, "that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. That will give us time to turn round."

She wrote at his dictation.

At the end of a week they had lost all hope. Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

"We must consider how to replace that ornament."

The best explanation is that he is concerned about his job and his whole future in government. Mme. Forestier might accuse them both of theft. She might go to the police. There might be a scandal that would even be written up in the newspapers. It sounds suspicious that Mathilde Loisel would borrow a necklace presumably worth close to forty-thousand francs and then lose it! That would be a good way for a poor couple like the Loisels to gain a small fortune overnight. Monsieur Loisel does not know what Madame Forestier--or her husband--might do, but he doesn't want to take a chance. They couldn't be sent to prison, but they could be disgraced. Everybody would suspect the worst of them. It could be the end of his career in government.

Monsieur Loisel is to blame for the mess he got himself and his wife into. She would have had no way of borrowing so much money to replace the necklace. She has a hard enough time getting four hundred francs out of her husband to buy an evening gown. He had to handle the whole affair, including making interest payments, renewing loans, taking out new loans, and all the negotiating he had to go through for ten years. For her part, Mathilde could only help by firing their maid and doing all the housework herself, and by haggling with the shopkeepers over a few sous. 

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