The Jewelry (or The False Gems) Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

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What is symbolic in "The Jewelry" by Guy de Maupassant?

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The narrator describes Monsieur Lantin's first interest in the woman who would become his wife:

The young girl was a perfect type of the virtuous woman in whose hands every sensible young man dreams of one day entrusting his happiness. Her simple beauty had the charm of angelic modesty, and the imperceptible smile which constantly hovered about the lips seemed to be the reflection of a pure and lovely soul. Her praises resounded on every side.

This young woman's apparent virtue, her "angelic modesty," and one's sense that she has a "pure and lovely soul" are false or misleading. Her beauty and appearance of innocence are, in fact, symbolic of her deceitfulness. She is not virtuous—she later, we assume, has an extramarital affair with someone who sends her very expensive gifts and perhaps even money. Madame Lantin is not what she seems, either before or after her wedding. She is so charming and wonderful that her husband never assumes for a moment that she might be unfaithful to him....

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