With theme of "The Necklace" being that one should be content with one's self and one's existence, how do characters contribute to this theme?(I'm writing a literary analysis paper of theme...

With theme of "The Necklace" being that one should be content with one's self and one's existence, how do characters contribute to this theme?

(I'm writing a literary analysis paper of theme and how the element of characterization contributes to this theme.)

3 Answers | Add Yours

parkerlee's profile pic

parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

In light of this theme, Mr Loisel is the anthithesis of his wife. In literature, he would be called a character foil, in that his qualities, being the opposite, highlight his wife's by sheer contrast. Mr Loisel seems to be the good-natured hubby type at the beck and call of his demanding and frustrated wife. The reader can hardly keep from "picking sides" and sympathising with Mr Loisel from the very start. In the same respect, one is less sympathetic towards Mrs Loisel's plight because of her hen-pecking, narcissist and fussy nature.

Ironically, it was Mr Loisel's suggestion (to lie by saying that the necklace was being fixed instead of being lost) which led to his wife's years of toil and torment.  If he had been more "up front" and truer to his character profile (He was not pretentious and didn't "put on" airs before society.), the Loisels would have led a more normal life. So in a way, Mrs Loisel's bad influence rubbed off onto her husband, who in turn gave her back some bad advice of the same sauce!

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Because Guy de Maupassant focuses his moral truth around Mathilde Loisel, her character and her interaction with other characters is of paramount importance to the development of theme.  So, in order for her character to seem utterly selfish and materialistic, the other characters act as foils to Madame Loisel. 

For instance, when she complains that she has no gown to wear to the ball for which her husband has so proudly handed her, he offers little resistance.  And, although he has saved money for a new rifle, M. Loisel unselfishly gives her his savings for a new dress.  When she tragically loses what she believes is a diamond necklace that she has borrowed from an old school friend, M. Loisel compassionately searches with her for this necklace; moreover he makes all the sacrifices in his life necessary for the replacement of the necklace, working extra hours, denying himself any luxuries.  Nor does he question his wife if Mme Forestier's necklace was truly real or ask her why she has not told Mme Forestier of the loss.

Also contributing to the delusion of Mme. Loisel that the borrowed necklace is real is the fact that Mme. Forestier has not called upon Mme. Loisel and informed her that the necklace she has returned is not the same as the one lent to her. Perhaps because it is in the original case Mme. Forestier has not examined it.  Nevertheless, her coldness and reproachfulness also contribute to the belief of Mme Loisel that she must work until she pays for the lost "diamond" necklace.

skeyes088's profile pic

skeyes088 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Madame Loisel is beautiful but she is not content beauty but not reality (or truth) of beauty.Pretty and Charming but is unhappy with her life and believes that she deserves more

We’ve answered 318,989 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question