The theme of “The Necklace” is that we ought to be grateful for what we have rather than constantly wishing for more. Madame Loisel pities herself immensely because of her lack of wealth and her personal feeling that she was “born for every delicacy and luxury.” Instead of being surrounded by opulence—“exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments”—she is compelled to make do with her marriage to a man with a good job, a servant to help her with the most menial wifely duties, and a comfortable home with food on the table.
Despite all that she does have, she “suffers endlessly” because she wants so much more. Madame Loisel is unable to appreciate a husband who would go to great lengths to secure an invitation to a party just to make her happy, who would give up the money that he was saving for something for himself so that she could have a new dress for this one night, and so on. He is grateful for what they have, and she is not.
The necklace she borrows from her friend, Madame Forestier, embodies extent of Madame Loisel’s desire for luxury, at any cost. The necklace is a symbol of her lust for wealth: she cannot recognize that what she already has in her life has true, real value, just as she cannot recognize the worthlessness of the necklace, which is not actually a diamond at all. She thinks that she knows what is truly valuable, but she does not. The irony of the necklace’s actual cheapness underscores the idea that we should be grateful for and recognize the good things in our lives rather than being so focused on acquiring more.