Using evidence from the story, prove this statement: The theme of "The Necklace" concerns the danger of attaching importance to wealth.  

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of "The Necklace" most definitely concerns the danger of attaching too much importance to material things.

The way in which this premise is evidenced in the story is by showing how the greediness of Mathilde Loisel has grown so disproportionately throughout the years, that all it took was one event--one very simple event-- to cause her ruin.

This ruin stems from another very simple fact: While Mathilde feels that she deserves everything, she simply does not know how to be happy with anything she has. It is her insistence in having "this or that" what fuels her behavior. Deep inside, she does not even really know what she is searching for, exactly. 

The first danger of attaching too much importance to material things is that it makes us oblivious to the smaller things that could make us just as happy.  

Mathilde had everything, albeit, in genteel poverty. She had a home, a husband, food on the table, and even a maid! No matter how low in the social food chain Mathilde felt that she was unfairly placed, there would always be someone else in an even lower echelon. However, Mathilde was not happy. In fact, she was "suffering".

Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. 

She felt that she deserved more and, as such, she wanted more. Unfortunately, the things that she wanted were just that: wants. Mathilde had everything she needed. This fact renders her, both, unhappy and ungrateful. 

A second danger of attaching too much importance to material things is that those who do it are in danger of letting objects define who they are as people.

Mathilde never gives a second thought to being just "Mathilde". She wants to be "looked at", recognized by how she is dressed, and admired by her looks. An opera dress with flowers on her head is not enough, despite of the suggestions of her husband. No. A dress worth 400 francs, her husband's personal savings, and some flashy piece of jewelry, are the factors that Mathilde chooses to define her.

Granted, Maupassant does make subtle statements regarding the ornamental nature of women throughout the story. Showing off her looks is, perhaps, Mathilde's only choice in her society. Yet, she embraces this notion and runs to her friend to borrow the flashiest necklace she can find. She does not pick the classiest nor the more reasonable: She wants to shine way too brightly. Her greed is akin to lust

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin box, a superb diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with an immoderate desire. Her hands trembled as she took it. She fastened it round her throat,outside her high-necked waist, and was lost in ecstasy at her reflection in the mirror.

Finally, if Mathilde had been less greedy, and her fantasy world less powerful, she would have talked more about the necklace, and she may have discovered its true nature: it is fake.

Instead, Mathilde gave so much importance to its looks, and its potential to "wow" others, that she made it her center of attention. When she eventually loses the necklace, and spends a lifetime paying back for a new one, she does this not knowing that she is doing all of this out of the mere thought of the necklace being real and worthy of all those sacrifices.

That is yet another allusion to the dangers of placing too much importance on the artificial and ornamental: things have price tags and remain around forever. Humans need to have values, and life is too short to waste them on things that add nothing to our personal growth. 

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The Necklace

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