Are we more like Madame Loisel or Monsieur Loisel from "The Necklace"?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Madame Loisel is beautiful but unhappy. Born in the family of a clerk, she had wished to get married to a “rich and distinguished” man. This doesn’t happen, however, and she becomes the wife of a simple clerk.

Her physical charm and beauty have always made her feel as though she has been deprived of the status and the society she deserves. She is highly dissatisfied with her simple lifestyle bereft of color and glamour. Her discontentment is well expressed in the following lines:

“She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury. She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the worn walls, the abraded chairs, the ugliness of the stuffs.”

She can also be called selfish, insensitive and careless.

On the other hand, Monsieur Loisel is happy and contented with whatever he’s got. He is a loving and supporting husband. To bring a smile to his wife’s face, he manages to get an initiation to a big party where only a few clerks have been invited. He is excited to disclose this piece of news to her. Madame Loisel’s response that follows shows her insensitivity and her selfishness.

Monsieur is a kind of person who wouldn’t hesitate to compromise with their own happiness to make their loved ones happy. Through several months he’s has saved four hundred pounds in order to buy a gun and go shooting with his friends. His selfless affection for his wife is seen when he doesn’t take long to give the same money to his wife to buy herself a “pretty dress.”

Moreover, when he learns about the missing necklace he doesn’t lose his temper or start screaming at his wife. Instead he consoles her and spends the rest of the night searching for the necklace in the streets. Not only this, when they fail to find the necklace, he undergoes a lot of trouble and suffering for several years in order to buy a real diamond necklace.

Thus, we find that Monsieur has got some of the most admirable qualities that we generally expect from others. His wife, on the other hand, is full of human weaknesses. Nevertheless, nobody can call her a bad or negative character. She nurtures a dream to live a luxurious and carefree life--one of the most common hopes of a man. Her longing and hopes and her inability to fulfill them and the resulting frustration make her a more real character.

Because of her weaknesses and frailties, I believe, we associate ourselves more closely with Madame Loisel than Monsieur Loisel. However, Monsieur Loisel is not altogether an unreal character. Men with qualities of Monsieur do exist around us.