What are some quotes in "The Necklace" by Guy De Mussapant that show Mme. Loisel's greediness lead her to her emotional downfall.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Madame Loisel's greediness leads to her downfall because she allows it to permeate every aspect of her life. She does this, primarily, due to feelings of entitlement, where she feels that she deserves everything.

Second, her greediness does not let her see what she does have, and makes her ungrateful and thankless about everything that surrounds her. Another aspect of her greediness is that it also translates into a negative sense of pride; one that makes her haughty, and always wanting to be better than everybody. Finally, her eternally-fantastic thinking blinds her to reality and leads her to aspire to things that are neither realistic nor possible for her. 


Maupassant describes Mathilde as someone who, even though is pretty, happens to be born "as if by a slip of fate" to a family of clerks. This means that Loisel, despite her physical attributes, cannot marry "well". She cannot produce a dowry to secure herself a rich husband. She cannot aspire to rise above the social ranks, either. 

Yet, Maupassant is clearly voicing Mathilde's own view of herself when he describes how "she let herself be married to a lowly clerk". Moreover, the entitlement that Mathilde feels is both unwarranted and nonsensical. How could someone who has never had anything miss riches so much? 

Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. All those things[...] tortured her and made her angry.

This contributes to her downfall because Mathilde's reason to borrow the fancy-looking necklace is to fill the void she had built for herself by feeling entitled to all that she does not have. 


Mathilde does not even feel happy when she does have a chance to at least come close to those things that she dreams about. When her husband secures her an invitation to a ball by the Minsitry of Public Instruction, Mathilde does not even take a second look at it. 

Instead of being delighted, as her husband had hoped, she threw the invitation on the table crossly, muttering:

"What do you wish me to do with that?"

Not only is she ungrateful to her husband, but she also transfers her frustrations onto the young Breton girl who serves in her home as a maid. Could it be that Mathilde sees an aspect of her poor persona in the poor aspect of the young woman?

This contributes to her downfall because she fails to see the good in everything, even in those who help her. Eventually, Mathilde will lose everything, even the Breton girl, and will end up scrubbing floors all on her own. 

The sight of the little Breton peasant who did her humble housework aroused in her despairing regrets and bewildering dreams. 

Negative pride

While pride, under check, is a good feeling to have regarding ourselves, Mathilde's pride stems from the jealousy she feels of others who may be doing better than herself. We know that she has a "friend" from the convent who is rich, and she feels distress when she goes to visit her. We assume that this friend is Madame Forestier. 

She had a friend, a former schoolmate at the convent, who was rich, and whom she did not like to go to see any more because she felt so sad when she came home

Also, Mathilde hides the fact that she lost the necklace from  Madame Forestier. If she had owned up to this fact, she would have found out from her rich friend that, this particular necklace Mathilde chose to borrow, was a fake. This contributed to her downfall because her life changes precisely because of her believe that she had lost an expensive necklace borrowed from Forestier for the ball. Had she just been honest, she could have saved herself. 


The last denominator that leads Mathilde to her downfall is her nonstop fantastic thinking. It is not just wishful thinking. Mathilde's goes all the way to the most delicate details. 

...she thought of dainty dinners, of shining silverware, of tapestry that peopled the walls with ancient personages and with strange birds flying in the midst of a fairy forest; and s[...]delicious dishes served on marvelous plates and of the whispered gallantries to which you listen with a sphinx-like smile

It makes the reader wonder whether Mathilde's thinking occupies so much of her day that she no longer rationalizes things. Moreover, is Mathilde able to realize that her thoughts are merely fantasies, and not "life goals"?

This greatly contributes to her downfall because she acts upon her fantasies. They are the motivators that lead her to do the things that she does and think the way that she thinks. Unfortunately for her, they will ultimately bring her whole world down. 

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The Necklace

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