In "The Necklace," how do Monsieur Loisel's inner thoughts affect your opionion of Madame Loisel's character?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Monsieur Loisel's thoughts and actions contrast with those of his selfish and querulous wife. 

Whereas he is content with his station in life, Madame Loisel is disappointed.

She grieved incessantly, feeling that she had been born for all the little niceties and luxuries of living. She grieved over . . . things which another woman of her class would not even have noticed.

When M. Loisel comes home, holding a large envelope with pride, he informs his wife that he has something for her. Rather than being delighted when she opens the envelope and sees an invitation to a ball at the Ministerial Mansion Mme. Loisel tosses the card aside and complains that she has nothing to wear for such an elegant occasion. Observing his wife's disappointment, her loving husband asks her how much she needs for a gown; she responds, "I think with four hundred francs I could manage it." M. Loisel turns pale. He has been saving for a rifle so that he could join friends the following summer in a hunting expedition. Unselfishly, though, M. Loisel gives the four hundred francs to his wife for a gown.

When they attend the ball, Mme. Loisel delights in the attention that she receives in her lovely gown adorned with a dazzling necklace that she has borrowed from a former school friend. Even the minister himself takes notice of her. On this night, Mme. Loisel . . .

. . . giv[es] no thought to anything in the triumph of her beauty, the pride of her success . . . of all the awakened longings, of a sense of complete victory that is so sweet to a woman's heart.

She even ignores her husband who has fallen asleep. Finally, she and her husband depart at four in the morning. After they arrive home, Mme. Loisel discovers that she has lost the borrowed diamond necklace. Monsieur Loisel goes back out and retraces their steps to find the necklace, but he has no luck. Madame Loisel is too ashamed of this loss to inform her friend. Instead, she and her husband borrow the money to purchase a replacement and take it to Mme. Forestier. 

[M. Loisel] compromised the rest of his life...and then, terrified by the outlook for the future, by the blackness of despair about to close around him, and all the privations of the body and tortures of the soul,...he went to claim the new necklace.

After this financial setback, Monsieur Loisel, a changed man, labors night and day. Also changed, Madame Mathilde Loisel does the heavy housework and haggles with the grocer and the butcher. Finally, their debt is paid. One Sunday while Mme. Loisel walks on the broad boulevard named the Champs Elysées, she encounters her old friend. Mme. Forestier, who does not recognize her because she is "greatly changed." Mathilde Loisel informs Mme. Forestier that she is to blame for Mathilde's having aged. She explains to Mme. Forestier that she actually lost the diamond necklace and had to purchase another to replace it. To her surprise, Mme. Loisel learns from Mme. Forestier that the first necklace was merely made from glass. Mathilde's selfish pride, which prevented her from informing her friend of the loss, has unnecessarily caused her and her husband untold hardships.

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The Necklace

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