What is the mood and theme of the story "The Necklace?"  

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of the story The Necklace is dissatisfaction and ambition gone awry due to the need to appear to be someone (or something) that you are not.

Mdme Loisel is a woman who could live comfortably if only she were less ambitious and irrational in what she claims to be "happiness".

When an invitation to a party arrives, rather than being considerate and rational, Mdme Loisel complaint about not having enough nice clothes and jewels with which to impress those attending. After borrowing a very glitsy necklace from a friend, she finally looks as regal and rich as she wants, and shines at the party. When she realizes she loses the necklace, she works hard to the point of poverty to replace it. In the end, the necklace, just like the ambition of Mdme Loisel ended up being a fake.

The mood in the narrative is of depression and negativity with the whining and complaining of Mdme Loisel and the desperation in which she fell afterwards when she ended up in deep poverty trying to pay for what she thought was a real diamond necklace. In the end, when we find out that the necklace was a fake, the mood is cruel, sad, and almost despairing. It is not a happy reading, but is a very good one.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the overriding themes of this novel is the idea that things are not always as they appear.  The mood that seems to fit this theme is the attitude of discontentment.

To sum up this theme and mood with one statement I might say sommething like: With an unrealistic view of the world, discontentment is inevitable.

Madame Loisel is discontent and unhappy with her life.  She's likely being unrealistic however because there are many who believe she should be happy.  First of all, she is physically beautiful.  She lives a modestly comfortable lifestyle.  Even among those who believe that life is what you make of it there are those who would agree that even so, life is easier for physically attractive people.  But Madame Loisel is not happy.  She wants more.

This leads us to questions like, Even if Madame Loisel did not live in her current state of "poverty" would she be truly satisfied, or is she simply a character who can never have enough?  Given that the necklace she chooses is possibly the cheapest item of the lot - is it likely that Mm. Loisel's view of the rest of the world is equally distorted?  What then, truly, is the key to happiness and contentment?

copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace" is one of suspense and irony, largely because of the surprise twist ending in which Mathilde and the reader learn that the necklace was of such little value. The suspense of the story is created by the palpable tension throughout the story: Mathilde's humble background, the efforts of her husband to provide for her and make her happy, the struggle to attend the ball, the sacrifice made for her dress and to repay the loans taken out to replace the lost necklace. All of this tension builds throughout the story, only to be released when Madame Forestier reveals the original necklace was made of imitation diamonds.

The themes of the story are also embedded throughout the story: the differences between appearance and reality, the struggle and conflict between social classes, and the repurcussions of greed.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also look at this story as a tragedy, and a sustained one at that, given the daily hardships the main character has to go through just to survive, along with the magic and hope of attending the gala event, only to be crushed by the loss of the necklace, and the long hardship and toil that follows as she tries to pay off her debt.  And in the end, the ultimate irony of finding out the necklace she had borrowed was merely "paste". 

This mood, one of near hopelessness and despair, follows throughout the story, emphasized and re-emphasized, punctuated with brief glimpses of hope ending in final irony.  Great story.