In "The Necklace" how are the things that Madame Loisel values different from what her husband values?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Madame Loisel values materialistic possessions, the idea of being admired and loved for being beautiful and having beautiful things.  Because of this, "Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries."   Her husband is a bit more realistic about their circumstances, and has his priorities more in the realm of reality. While she scoffs at their meals and the simplicity of the diningware, he "uncovered the soup tureen and declared with a delighted air, 'Ah, the good soup! I don't know anything better than that'".  He is grateful for and values what they have, and feels that it is enough.  Of her nice theater dress he states, "It looks very well to me" while she weeps at its plainness.  After whining about the dress, she whines about how "It annoys me not to have a single piece of jewelry".  Her husband, more simple and pragmatic states that ""You might wear natural flowers...They're very stylish at this time of year."  He values a practical approach to fulfilling desires.  In all of these examples we see a selfish, materialistc woman and a practical, pleasant husband.

In the end though, it is Madame Loisel's materialistic desires that ends up shaping and fashioning their entire existence; she drags her husband along in the difficult quest to pay for the necklace, which just goes to show how greed is a hungry animal that impacts everyone around it.

davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Madame Loisel is an incredibly shallow woman, obsessed with appearances. She believes herself to be a deracinated princess, a lady of high society fallen on hard times. As such, she loathes her déclassé lifestyle; it's humiliating for someone so grand to live such an ordinary, lower middle-class existence. She yearns to break free and move effortlessly through the upper echelons of society, attracting admiring glances wherever she goes. Her whole value system is thoroughly materialistic, based as it is on the overriding importance of wealth, position, and social status.

Her husband, however, seems perfectly happy with his lot. Although not by any means a wealthy man, he's still considerably better off than most. He can afford a serving girl, for one thing. And the simple, undisguised glee with which he contemplates a steaming hot bowl of beef stew should leave us in no doubt that, all things considered, Monsieur Loisel is generally contented with life. He realizes, unlike his wife, that you don't need to be rich or socially prominent or the center of attention to be happy. It's the simple things in life that matter.

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The Necklace

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