What makes the story's closing sentences ironic?    

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The closing sentences of "The Necklace" are ironic because of the sharp contrast between Mathilde Loisel's beliefs and the reality of which she is totally ignorant until her friend enlightens her. This is situational irony. Mathilde is proud  of the fact that she and her husband were able to pay for a replacement for the lost necklace, after ten years of hard work and privation, without Madame Forestier suspecting that the original necklace had been replaced. Then Maupassant drops his surprise ending on the poor, misguided woman like a bomb. Madame Forestier speaks the final words of the story:

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "

Irony is often like a cruel joke. The story would be funny if it were not so painful for the principal character. It would be a very sadistic reader who could laugh at Mathilde Loisel for having lost all her beauty and charm over a cheap imitation necklace. No doubt the revelation reflects back on her evening of social triumph as well. How many of the men she danced with at the ball were aware that she was only wearing a necklace of imitation jewels? How many of the women knew? 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Are you a teacher? Sign up now