In the short story "The Necklace," what does Mme. Loisel want to wear to the party besides the dress? How does she acquire it?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short story "The Necklace" Madame Loisel wants to get a dress for the ball given by the Ministry of Education. She is already depressed that she only has one dress to wear, which is the dress with which she goes to the opera, so her husband offers to buy her a new one. Madame Loisel tells her husband that she could get one for 400 francs. However, this is the amount of money that her husband had been saving to get a hunting gun for a trip that he was planning on going to the next summer. Nevertheless, the good man gave her the 400 francs. Still, Madame was not happy.

"I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear," she replied. "I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party."

The solution that the husband proposes at first is that she wears "flowers" in her hair, and things of that nature. However, Madame Loisel wanted to be flashy and really call the attention of everyone. As such, her husband proposes a second option: Madame will go to visit her well-to-do friend, Madame Forrestier, and she will ask to borrow a piece of jewelry from her. 

This is the pivotal action that sets the plot forward. It is after the selection of the necklace, a very flashy and showy one, that Madame Loisel feels truly like herself. She is ravishing and wild and the party, and then she looses the necklace! Rather than admit to her friend what happened, she decides to replace the necklace on her own at great and life-changing sacrifices to the marriage. In the end, we realize that the piece is fake and all of the years of working to replace it had come and gone in vain. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team