Was "The Necklace" intended to be ironic at the time?
It would be very difficult for anybody of any age to read this excellent short story and not be struck by the tremendous irony and dark comedy within it. Maupassant is an author who is famed for the twists in his tales and how he uses dark humour in his work, and certainly this story is no exception, and his original audience would undoubtedly have richly enjoyed the dark irony in this story. Note how this is achieved at the very end, when Mathilde sees her friend who leant her the necklace in the first place which was the source of all of their woe. The following words of course transform the story and give a real impact to the ending:
Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs!...
The fact that Mathilde is presented as a woman who is so caught up in thinking about her poverty and the things she lacks, even when she is comfortably off, is shown to be her downfall in this short story, and Maupassant suggests with this ending the dangers of always wanting more than you actually have and being unable to appreciate the level of comfort and possessions that you do actually have.