The Necklace Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace book cover
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What is the conflict of the short story "The Necklace"?

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There are two primary conflicts in Guy De Maupassant's short story "The Necklace," which are the individual versus the self and the individual versus society. Mathilde Loisel's internal and external conflicts stem from her social status, her feelings of inadequacy, and society's expectations. Mathilde Loisel believes that she should occupy a higher social class and is ashamed that she is considered middle-class after marrying a humble clerk. Mathilde Loisel is unhappy with her life and continually dreams about living in a palace and owning expensive items.

Mathilde experiences feelings of inferiority and inadequacy because of her social status and does not believe that she can meet the expectations of upper-class society when she attends the ball at the Ministry of Public Education. Mathilde believes that members of the upper-class will view her with contempt when they judge her clothing, accessories, and overall appearance. The French aristocracy in the late-1800s was particularly superficial, and Mathilde experienced pressure to impress the wealthy citizens at the ball.

Mathilde's low self-esteem and superficiality motivate her to visit Madame Forestier. Mathilde proceeds to borrow Madame Forestier's presumably expensive necklace because she believes that it will help her meet the expectations of the upper-class and please her insatiable desire to wear expensive items. The necklace also makes Mathilde feel worthy and content.

Unfortunately, Mathilde encounters another conflict when she loses the necklace. Mathilde and her husband incorrectly assume that the diamond necklace was genuine and almost bankrupt themselves by purchasing an authentic look-alike. Mathilde and her husband struggle for ten years to pay off their debts only to discover that Madame Forestier's necklace was an inexpensive imitation.

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The conflict is that Mathilde...

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