What are some examples of symbolism in the story and what is the story's theme?

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angelacress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main theme of "The Necklace" a contrast between greed and generosity. Madame Loisel, the protagonist, lives a modest, yet comfortable middle class life with her husband. However, she feels that her lack of luxury is a very great injustice. Her life is comfortable enough to afford one servant, but she wishes for several. She has plenty of food, but she dreams of "delicate meals." Her husband can barely afford to buy her a ball gown, but she insists on having jewelry to go with it. When she first sees her friend's diamond necklace, "her heart [beats] covetously." Her greed stands in marked contrast to the generosity of her husband and Madame Forestier.

The necklace itself represents the theme of appearances versus reality. While sufficiently beautiful to make Madame Loisel feel comfortable during the ministerial ball, the necklace is actually nothing more than paste and gilt. Thus, it is not the reality of wealth or high social class that is important for Madame Loisel, just the appearance of it.

janeyb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many themes to this story, including class conflict, appearance and reality, and generosity and greed. The one that resonates with me the most after reading the story, is class conflict. Madam Loisel is so unhappy with her position in life, that she takes advantage of those around her to try and better it. She truly believes that if she can attain the status of being higher class, her life would be happier. The necklace, is clearly the biggest example of symbolism in the story. The necklace for Madam Loisel symbolizes all that she doesn't have in life, and all that she desires. The fact that it's fake, just makes it that much more symbolic of the greed and sacrifice that consumes Madam Loisel and her husband.

mickey2bailey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the examples of symbolism in "The Necklace" are:  The necklace is a symbol of wealth and power for Madame Loisel.  This represents a world she longs to be in but will never be able to reach.  The apartment that she lives in with her husband is a constant reminder of what she feels is a miserable life that she doesn't deserve and that she was not born to.  Another symbol is the sholder wrap her husband went to put on her shoulders after the reception which again was a reality check as to who she really was and her social class in life.  She was ashamed to have her husband put it on her with the beautiful dress and necklace she was wearing.  It was a total contradiction of who she was trying or posing to be.

haneen | Student

what is the themes of story     

 appearancees and Reality

Class conflict

generosityand greed