In what different ways does De Maupassant control the amount of sympathy we have for Mathilda? How successful is he in controlling our sympathy?
The author paints an unflattering portrait of Mathilde, really, the protagonist. She is potrayed as unrealistic, materialistic, and a dreamer who wants things for aesthetic reasons only. The narrator also limits the sympathy we feel for Mathilde through details about her selfish nature and how she wanted this and that and through things she says to her husband that are not nice. She is selfish and not very nice to her husband, as well. It is easy NOT to like her, really. I don't find many redeeming qualities about her.
Because the story is told in third person, as well, this also controls the sympathy we might have for Mathilde. The narrator of the story is not a participant and simply describes what is happening to the characters. The narrator does not judge the characters, either (this type of narrator is called an objective narrator).
The author provides readers with enough information on Mrs.Loisel but with a limited one on Mr.Loisel.This makes any rational reader to draw much sympathy for Mr.Loisel but antipathy for Mrs.Loisel.She has enough food based on her social class but is not content with it and still dreams of delicate meals.Mr.Loisel's capital for purchasing a gun for next summer's shooting of larks, was given to her and yet not pleased.She demands for a jewelry in order to match the high social class.Mrs.Loisel humanistic character of being selfish,greedy,ungrateful and discontentful makes readers not to draw sympathy for her.