In "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant, some readers argue that Mathilde wasn't completely transformed during the ten years of her hard work to replace the necklace. Give two pieces of evidence...

In "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant, some readers argue that Mathilde wasn't completely transformed during the ten years of her hard work to replace the necklace. Give two pieces of evidence from the end of the story that show Mathilde is still not a completely mature person. 

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lynn30k's profile pic

lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Mathilde, at the beginning of the story, is a beautiful, if shallow, young woman. She is married to a man she considers beneath her, and feels somewhat let down by life. When she and her husband are invited to a ball that is beyond what she could have hoped for, she is still not happy, as she will not have a dress or jewelry that others will envy. She borrows a diamond necklace from a friend, loses it, and she and her husband spend the next ten years working to pay off the loans they had to obtain in order to replace the necklace. Although she learns how to work hard at humble work during the ten years, she still shows her immaturity and shallowness. When by chance she finds Madame Forestier, who had loaned her the necklace, Mathilde tells her that  she, Madame Forestier, is to blame for Mathilde's aged, worn-out appearance. In fact, Mathilde is the one who lost a necklace she thought was extremely valuable. When Madame Forestier tells Mathilde that she had not noticed the replacement, Mathilde "smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous". She is still immature and prideful, despite her ten years of hard labor.

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lrswank's profile pic

lrswank | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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One way you might decide to prove that Mathilde did not gain a more mature perspective during her ten years of hard living while paying off the necklace is to look at the diction (word choice) associated with her actions.

After the ten year interval of her hard work and diligence, years that the reader could argue should have provided her perspective on her costly mistake, the narrator describes her as

"sometimes...[sitting] down by the window and [thinking] of that evening long ago."  

She recalled that she had been

"so beautiful" and "so much admired."  

This diction proves to the reader that Mathilde has not formed an appropriate, mature connection between the very event that was the catalyst for her mistake and the reason for her long ten years of hard living--not only for her, but also for her husband!  It can easily be argued that a natural, mature reaction would be to realize that living within her means and being proud of that is enough.  Instead, ten years later, she still dreams about her beauty and how much others were attracted to her during the night of her "ruin."  

Further, and most distinctly, the difficulties she encounters because of the loss of the necklace do not provoke her to feel in any way responsible for the loss. Again, we can look to the diction of the story for proof: when Mathilde approaches Madame Forestier at the end of the story, she nearly immediately blames her, saying that she has had so

"many sorrows...all on [her] account."

Sadly, Mathilde uses this unexpected reunion between her and her old friend to immediately assign blame--blame that is, in fact, her own. Soon after this confrontation, she smiles with "pride and innocent happiness."  Had Mathilde truly transformed and matured during her tough ten years, she never would have beamed with pride as she more or less accosted the woman who did her a favor in the first place.   

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The word mature in the context of the question can mean either that Mathilde has now grown up from being childish and foolish and that she has become more sensible or that she carefully considers the outcome of her actions before committing to them. This sort of maturity implies that she should consider others' reactions to her behavior and assume that their responses would be influenced by what she has said or done, either negatively or positively, in both instances.

One would expect that Mathilde would have learnt a lesson about her foolish desire for material things after her difficult ten-year trial. She does, however, still display her immaturity by blaming Madame Jeanne Forestier for the struggle that she and her husband have had to endure. She responds to Jeanne's comment about her condition by saying:

"Yes, I have had some hard times since I last saw you, and many miseries ... and all because of you!"

The trial that they had undergone was, in fact, not Madame Forestier's fault, but hers. She was the one who had insisted on borrowing the necklace in the first place and her remark is, therefore, inappropriately immature in this regard.

Mathilde's immaturity is also obvious when she tells Madame Forestier about how she had replaced the lost necklace and then...

...smiled with proud and innocent pleasure.

Her action here illustrates that Mathilde's immaturity, in this regard, was borne from a somewhat childish belief that what she had done was something good. Her innocence indicates her lack of in-depth insight and understanding about exactly what price she and her husband had to pay for her foolish desire to impress. They had essentially lost ten years of their lives just because she had to indulge a fantasy. One would expect that she would not still, at the end of it, feel proud of having sacrificed and lost so much.

One would assume, after Madame Forestier's shocking exclamation about the lost necklace's true value, that the realization of how much has actually been lost to replace what was, in fact, a trinket, would hit Mathilde like a ton of bricks.

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