What might be a strong refutation against a reader's opinion of Mathilde in "The Necklace"? This refutation would have an antithesis as the topic sentence with an explanation of the antithesis. Then, what is a refutation of the antithesis with quotes from "The Necklace" supporting the argument?

Expert Answers

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

Having taught this story several times, I know that students tend to develop a quick dislike of Mathilde Loisel. She has a kind husband with a good job, and he just wants to try to make her happy. However, she feels that she was "born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries" and cannot be happy with the nice life they have, the servant girl she commands, and the tidy apartment she keeps. When he procures an invitation to a fancy party, Mathilde is not happy until she has a new dress and borrowed jewels, but when she loses the jeweled necklace, life changes for the Loisels forever. Although they descend into poverty now, forced to replace the priceless piece, Mathilde "bore her part... with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it." She does not complain or moan, and she does not cry or mourn. For ten years, Mathilde bears up under incredible hardship, and she handles it, as the quotation says, heroically.

She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her rosy nails on the greasy pots and pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts, and the dish-cloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning, and carried up the water, stopping for breath and every landing. And, dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, her basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted, defending her miserable money sou by sou.

She commits to her new life with such gusto that she is virtually unrecognizable to her friend, Madame Forestier, ten years later. Thus, I would argue that Mathilde becomes someone who accepts responsibility for her own shortcomings and realizes what is really important rather than remaining a selfish princess who is never happy and gets what she deserves.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team