What is the relationship between Monsieur and Madame Loisel in "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Mathilde Loisel, the protagonist, in "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant does not like her circumstances.  Mathilde is a young, attractive woman who daydreams about living a stylish life. She dreams of serving tea on beautiful china and wearing fashionable clothing. Unfortunately, that is not Mathilde's life.

The Loisels were not poor but middle class. They did have one servant which obviously Mathilde did not appreciate. While Mathilde might have been enjoying her life, instead she choose to be miserable and whine away her time wishing for more and better things.

Mathilde describes her husband as a "little" clerk in the Ministry of Education.  His personality is bright and pleasant.  He loves his wife and knows that she is unhappy with her circumstances.  Probably, thinking himself lucky to have married such an attractive girl, he tries to please her.

When he arranges for the invitation to the ball, Loisel thinks that his wife will be delighted.  Mathilde is so immature and self-centered that all she can do is fuss about nothing to wear and no jewelry. 

In an effort to please Mathilde, her husband gives her the money that he had been saving for her to buy a new dress.  Mathilde still worries that she has no jewelry.  She borrows a beautiful necklace from a friend.

The necklace is lost after the party.  Poor Monsieur Loisel goes out alone and searches all night and day for the jewels but has no luck. Loisel comes up with a plan to buy another necklace and return it to Mathilde's friend.

This is quite a man.  He takes his inheritance from his father; then, he borrows the rest of the money.  They return the necklace. But that is just the beginning.  For the next ten years, the Loisels work together to pay for the replacement necklace. Monsieur Loisel works a second job at night.  They even give up their apartment.

Both of them age tremendously over the years.  Mathilde is no longer beautiful.  She has hardened:

 She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning she carried up the water.

The author never lets the reader know if Mathilde appreciated her husband for taking care of her.  They did accomplish something together, and she did rise to the occasion and do the hard work of the home.  In reality, the hero of the story is Monsieur Loisel who worked alongside his wife to pay back the money for her foolish whim.

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