Is Mathilde a greedy character in Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace"?  What signs say she is or is not? 

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Author Guy de Maupassant certainly does characterize Mathilde as greedy and self-serving in his short story "The Necklace." Evidence is seen in the fact that she was born into the working class yet fantasizes about being a part of the upper class, even a part of the gentry. In addition, because she wants something for herself that is out of her reach, she is disappointed by every little gift she is given.

Within the first page of the short story, de Maupassant characterizes Mathilde as greedily wanting something that is out of her reach. She is so greedy for things above her socioeconomic class that she is disappointed with her husband and her home, seeing her house as shabby. When she is in her home, she fantasizes about being in a very expensive home, richly furnished. The irony is that, even though she may be middle class, her home is not as poor as she thinks it is. In fact, she is even rich enough to be able to a hire a servant to do the housekeeping.

We first see her express greed by being disappointed by gifts given to her when her husband gives her the invitation to the ball hosted by the Minister of Education. Her husband thinks she'll be elated, but she instead cries because she thinks she doesn't have anything to wear. Even after her husband sacrifices his savings of four hundred francs to allow her to buy a new dress, she again looks sad because she has no jewels to wear with the dress and says she doesn't want to go to the ball.

Later, when her wealthy friend Madame Forestier offers Mathilde anything from her jewelry box to wear, Mathilde keeps expressing disappointment at what she sees, saying, "Haven't you anything else?" (p. 4). Her disappointment at her friend's offering is further evidence that Mathilde is greedy.