What is the aspect of social class in "The Necklace" by Guy De Maupassant?

Guy De Maupassant's "The Necklace" criticizes social status and class pretensions. These themes are embodied in its protagonist, Mathilde Loisel, who is characterized as coveting for herself the lifestyle and prestige of the upper class. This leaves her deeply unsatisfied with her own life as the wife of a clerk. Her vanity leads to disaster after she borrows a diamond necklace. The loss of the necklace causes her husband and herself to fall into poverty instead.

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Social class is one of the critical themes that drives "The Necklace," both in terms of its plot and its characters. In this story focused on class pretensions, its main protagonist, Mathilde Loisel, is described as highly covetous of the lifestyle and prestige of the upper classes, while being deeply unsatisfied with her own status as the wife of a government clerk.

As the story continues, Mathilde is invited to a ball, but she immediately becomes fixated on what kind of image she would project. As a result, she pressures her husband to buy her a new dress and later borrows a diamond necklace from her wealthy friend. It is only when she can project this illusion of opulence that extends far beyond her actual means that she is willing to attend the ball. This turns into disaster, however, when she loses the necklace. She decides to purchase a replacement, borrowing large sums of money in the process.

What we see in this story is a combination of vanity, pride and social pretension, which result in destruction for Mathilde and her husband. Greatly indebted, they lose their middle-class status and fall into poverty. As the story concludes, after they have finally managed to pay off the debts, Mathilde reveals to her friend the loss of the necklace. Her friend tells her that the original had been a fake.

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Mathilde Loisel was born into a family of clerks, and—with no means of marrying up—she "let herself by married" to another such clerk. She seems like someone who ought to be of a higher class than she is, and this made her

as unhappy as though she had really fallen from her proper station . . . Natural fineness, instinct for what is elegant, suppleness of wit, are the sole hierarchy, and make from women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.

Her desire to transcend social class and her belief that her beauty and charm should have destined her for the upper class result in anger that she cannot achieve this. "[S]he felt made for "fancy dresses and jewels," and "She would so have liked to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after." Though she has a husband who wants to make her happy, to provide her with the kinds of experiences she longs for, she is still unhappy because she doesn't have the material trappings of an upper-class woman. Her husband is even willing to give up a treat for himself for which he'd been saving, giving her the money to buy a beautiful dress. Still, she is unsatisfied because she has no jewels. Ironically, she says that "there's nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich."

Sadly, she is wrong, and she feels the weight of her new and greater humiliation when she and her husband must work themselves to the bone to pay off the loans they take out in order to purchase a replacement necklace for Mathilde's friend after Mathilde loses it. She trades a life for one night of "happiness composed of all this homage, of all this admiration, of all these awakened desires, and of that sense of complete victory which is so sweet to woman's heart." After replacing the necklace, she "now knew the horrible existence of the needy." Had Mathilde been satisfied with her pleasing husband and her relative luxury (a nice flat, servants, and so forth)—in short, with her middle-class existence—she would never have "had [to] become the woman of impoverished households" that she does become after the party. She descends to the lower class as a result of her insatiable desire to ascend to the upper.

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One of the great ironies of Guy de Maupassant's short story, The Necklace, is how Madame Loisel actually descends into a lower class of life after her attempt to join high society on the night of the ball. Unhappy with her perfectly acceptable middle class life, she pretended to be something she wasn't in the hope of tasting how the upper class lived. And she did--for a few hours one night. After losing the necklace, however, she and her husband were forced to borrow money, give up their home, and work extra jobs in order to replace the necklace. Instead of achieving a bit of upper class status while living in her middle class world, Madame Loisel fell to even lower depths for a decade while working to pay for the jewels.

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Really, this whole story is about social class and the desire to move up in social class.

Madame Loisel is born to a lower class than she thinks she should be in.  She feels that it is really important for her to try to move up and mingle with people of a higher social class.  That is why she is so eager to go to the ball when the invitation comes.

Madame Loisel is also eager to pretend that she is just as high class as anyone else at the party.  That is why she borrows the necklace that causes her so many problems.

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