What are some character traits of Monsieur Loisel in "The Necklace"?

Character traits of Monsieur Loisel include a conciliatory nature, innovativeness, and loyalty. He shows his conciliatory nature when his wife complains that she has nothing suitable to wear. He shows his innovativeness in his ideas for overcoming her lack of jewelry. Lastly, he shows his loyalty in devoting his life to the repayment of the debt for the lost necklace.

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In "The Necklace," Monsieur Loisel is portrayed as a selfless, humble man, who is willing to make sacrifices to please his entitled wife and protect his reputation. Unlike his materialistic, self-centered wife, Mathilde, Monsieur Loisel is content with his modest life and naively believes she will be excited about receiving an invitation to the Ministry's private ball. When Monsieur Loisel initially tells his wife about the invitation, he describes it as a "fine opportunity" to socialize with important people and possibly make some connections. This comment depicts Monsieur Loisel as a rather ambitious, driven clerk with hopes of receiving a promotion.

His willingness to sacrifice four hundred francs to appease his wife also demonstrates his benevolent, submissive nature. Once Mathilde loses the diamond necklace, Monsieur Loisel goes to great lengths to discover and replace it. Monsieur Loisel retraces their route, visits the police headquarters, and offers a reward at the newspaper offices to recover the necklace. His desperate efforts suggest that he is a dutiful, responsible husband.

It is also important to note that Monsieur Loisel instructs his wife to lie to Madame Forestier about the missing necklace and does not recognize something is amiss when the jeweler explains that he only furnished the case. By instructing Mathilde to lie and neglecting to question the necklace's authenticity before exhausting all of his resources, Monsieur Loisel is depicted as narrow-minded and self-conscious. His main concern is preserving his reputation, which explains why he sacrifices his life savings to replace the necklace. He does not want to be viewed as a thief or irresponsible husband. Tragically, Monsieur Loisel is not intuitive enough to recognize something is odd when the opportunity presents itself, and he wastes his life savings on an authentic lookalike.

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Guy de Maupassant does not tell us nearly as much about Monsieur Loisel as he tells us about his wife’s character. However, I would argue that Monsieur Loisel can be described as conciliatory and as a peacemaker. He is also innovative and loyal.

When he excitedly tells his wife about the invitation that they have received, she responds derisively, explaining that with nothing suitable to wear, she cannot possibly go. He attempts to make her feel better by telling her that, in his view, the dress she wears to the theater will be perfect. Upon learning that he is wrong about this dress, his conciliatory nature is shown when he announces that he will give her four hundred francs with which to buy “a pretty dress.”

I would also argue that Monsieur Loisel is also an innovative man, or a man with creative ideas. When his wife bemoans her lack of jewelry, he suggests that she use fresh flowers to adorn herself. When this idea is eschewed, it is Monsieur Loisel who comes up with the idea that will, in the long term, cause the couple so much trouble: she could borrow some jewelry from Madame Forestier. Another great idea of Monsieur Loisel’s is to buy time in the aftermath of the loss by having his wife write to Madame Forestier and tell her that they are having the necklace’s clasp mended.

Monsieur Loisel showcases his loyalty in the aftermath of the necklace’s disappearance. He sinks his entire inheritance into replacing the necklace on behalf of his wife and also takes on jaw-dropping debt, “[compromising] all the rest of his life,” without ever uttering a word of complaint.

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Monsieur Loisel is not described as vividly as his wife Mathilde.  In fact, he is not even given a name!  Most of the characterization of him is indirect.  You can describe him as loving, frustrated, satisfied, clueless, and honest.

Monsieur Loisel is a loving, if not subservient, husband.  He wants to do what his wife wants, or anything to make her happy.  He sacrifices his comfort for hers.

He grew a little pale, because he was laying aside just that amount to buy a gun and treat himself to a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre…. (p. 3)

When she asks for money for a dress to go to the ball, he acquiesces and gives her the money he has set aside for himself.

Mathilde’s husband is also frustrated though.  He knows he cannot give her everything she wants.  This bothers him.  Yet he also gets irritated when she is constantly asking for more.

"How stupid you are!" her husband cried. "Go look up your friend, Madame Forestier, and ask her to lend you some jewels. You're intimate enough with her to do that." (p. 3)

Although this seems mean, it must not have been mean in the way he said it.  She does not get upset.  Instead, she is thrilled.  She “uttered a cry of joy” and took the suggestion.

Monsieur  Loisel is satisfied.  Although he is only a clerk, he does not seem to mind his life.  He suggests that Mathilde put flowers in her hair instead of wearing jewels, because it is fashionable.  He does not understand why she does not want to go to the ball. He is satisfied with his life, and is not sure why she is not.

Mathilde’s husband does not seem to understand how unhappy she is.  He is fine with his life.

"Why, my dear, I thought you would be glad. You never go out, and this is such a fine opportunity. I had great trouble to get it….” (p. 2)

He did not understand that she would be upset when he got her the invitation because she did not have the right clothes.  He is clueless, and could have avoided a lot of trouble by not opening that can of worms.

Finally, Loisel is relatively honest.  When the jewel goes missing, he has it replaced.  He does lie at first. 

"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." (p. 5)

However, he is just biding his time.  He does work very hard to replace the jewel.

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