The Necklace Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace book cover
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What is the moral to the story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant? What sayings sum up the story?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a number of important moral lessons in "The Necklace" but I'd argue that the most important one of all is that you should always be true to yourself. Madame Loisel certainly isn't and therein lies her downfall. She leads a perfectly comfortable, respectable life—she's a good deal better off than most people in France at the time—and yet she's still not happy with her lot.

Her main problem is that she has delusions of grandeur, thinking herself to be better than she really is. Mathilde's fantasies of living the good life eventually lead to a grim existence of mindless drudgery and grinding poverty. If she'd been grateful for what she had then this wouldn't happened. There's nothing wrong with being ambitious in life, and perhaps Monsieur Loisel can be criticized on this score, but that doesn't mean pretending to be something you're not. Mathilde acts like a princess, thinking she's entitled to better things. But she's simply deluding herself, and the results of her delusions are disastrous for her and her husband.

If one had to sum up the moral of the story in a saying, then perhaps we should give the last word to Polonius, in act 1, scene 3 of Hamlet:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

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Sol Gandy eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" is about a young woman, Madame Loisel, who daydreams about wealth, social status and luxury. When she is able to live her preferred life for one night at a fancy ball, adorned with a new dress and a seemingly expensive necklace, she is truly happy. With the loss of the necklace, a symbol of wealth and material status, her life is forever changed as she is thrown into poverty. In the end, we learn the necklace was actually worthless, proving her original mindset wrong. 

A saying that sums up the moral of the story might be: Be satisfied and grateful for the things you have rather than striving for things that may appear better but often are not.

In the beginning of the story, while Madame Loisel is daydreaming, the reader learns she lives comfortably. After all, she has a maid. She also has a husband who is obviously devoted to her. Realizing she is bored, he tries to brighten her life by bringing home an invitation to the fancy ball and he even uses some of his savings to buy her a new dress. She doesn't appreciate what she already has and foolishly loses the necklace as she hurries away from the ball. The loss of the necklace causes her to lose her youth, her beauty and her dignity. Her life would have been better had she been satisfied with what she already had.

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