To what degree is M. Loisel also to blame for the misery he endures?

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M. Loisel is actually more to blame than his wife for the miseries they suffered during the years it took to pay for the replacement necklace. Many readers have questioned why Mme. Loisel doesn't simply go to her friend Mme. Forestier and tell her the truth, offering to pay for...

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M. Loisel is actually more to blame than his wife for the miseries they suffered during the years it took to pay for the replacement necklace. Many readers have questioned why Mme. Loisel doesn't simply go to her friend Mme. Forestier and tell her the truth, offering to pay for the lost necklace in installments. She would have found out that she only owed her friend about five hundred francs and could have paid her immediately. But M. Loisel has a different idea.

"You must write to your friend," said he, "that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. That will give us time to turn round."

She wrote at his dictation.

At the end of a week they had lost all hope. Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

"We must consider how to replace that ornament."

Without her husband's interference, Mathilde would have had no choice but to go to her friend and confess she had lost her necklace. M. Loisel is concerned about his position at the Ministry of Public Instruction and his future career with the French government. The necklace was lost at the Minister's ball. Since the necklace was not found, there might be rumors that someone attending the ball had stolen the necklace. Others might suspect that the Loisels did not lose the necklace but simply kept it, waiting for enough time to pass to allow them to sell it. The loss might be of sufficient interest to get written about in the newspapers, and M. Loisel could get blamed for creating a public scandal that reflected unfavorably on the Ministry--and the Minister! M. Loisel knows, too, that it was M. Forestier and not his wife who paid for the necklace and M. Forestier they would have to deal with. M. Forestier might suspect them of stealing the necklace. He might be unwilling to accept repayment in installments. He might even go to the police and charge both of them with theft. If this were to happen, M. Loisel's position with the Ministry of Public Instruction would be jeopardized. He might always be suspected of colluding with his wife to steal the diamond necklace. His future career in government service could be badly affected. He can't know for sure what would happen if he were to let his wife tell her friend she had lost her necklace, but he doesn't want to take any chances.

So it is M. Loisel who creates the problems for both himself and his wife. Without her husband's interference, Mathilde would have had no choice but to go to her friend and tell her the truth. Mathilde has no money of her own. She could never borrow the 16,000 francs needed to buy the replacement necklace. She wouldn't even know how to go about raising that amount of money, as her husband managed to do.

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which his father had left him. He would borrow the rest. He did borrow, asking a thousand francs of one, five hundred of another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes, took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers and all the race of lenders. He compromised all the rest of his life, risked signing a note without even knowing whether he could meet it; and, frightened by the trouble yet to come, by the black misery that was about to fall upon him, by the prospect of all the physical privations and moral tortures that he was to suffer, he went to get the new necklace, laying upon the jeweler's counter thirty-six thousand francs.

Over the succeeding years he had to borrow more money to pay back borrowed money, always with accumulating interest. His wife could never have handled such arrangements, and in those days a woman would have had trouble borrowing any money at all. M. Loisel's fears for his reputation, security, and advancement were largely responsible for the unnecessary misery he had to endure along with his wife.

 

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