The Jewelry (or The False Gems)

by Guy de Maupassant

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Is infidelity the only explanation for Mme. Lantin’s possession of the jewelry in “The Jewelry”? After all, the author never spells this out. If it is the only explanation, why doesn’t the author come right out and state this? What, if anything, is gained by leaving Mme. Lantin’s activities a mystery?    

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In Guy de Maupassant’s story “The Jewels,” we do not know for sure how Madame Lantin came to possess such expensive jewelry, but we can make a pretty good guess. She probably has an admirer who is also a lover. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Monsieur Lantin has always been annoyed by his wife’s fake jewelry. But she insists upon wearing and enjoying it, and since she seems to be the perfect wife in every other way, he indulges her. In fact, the only other issue he has with her is her love for the theater, which he does not care to attend.

Monsieur Lantin’s refusal to go with his wife to the theater may have opened the door for Madame Lantin to meet some rich man who could provide her with the jewelry, which is not fake at all. Monsieur Lantin knows nothing of this until his wife is dead and he goes to sell one of the necklaces, only to discover that it is worth a great deal of money. He has, in fact, brought it to the very shop that sold it. He is bewildered and then horribly upset, for he believes that his wife did indeed have a lover.

It is difficult to think of another explanation for Madame Lantin’s possession of such jewelry. The clerks at the jeweler’s shop contribute to the idea of a lover by having a difficult time controlling their laughter. Even the jeweler cannot help but smirk. Monsieur Lantin does, after all, come off looking like a quite a fool, although he ends up very rich in the end.

It is likely that the author does not come right out and say that Madame Lantin has a lover because he would rather allow his readers to find the clues and to discover the secret for themselves. Plus, we have the enjoyment of wondering a bit if we are right or if there could be some other explanation, a secret inheritance or investment perhaps that Madame Lantin used for the jewelry as well as for other expenses around the house. We will never know for sure.

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