In "The Necklace," what is the symbolism of the necklace itself?

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In Guy de Maupassant 's story, the necklace symbolizes Mathilde's disappointment with her middle-class life. Mathilde longs for expensive items and a lifestyle that her husband cannot afford. Her husband brings home the invitation to the ball to make Mathilde happy; however, this backfires, and she is filled with displeasure....

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In Guy de Maupassant's story, the necklace symbolizes Mathilde's disappointment with her middle-class life. Mathilde longs for expensive items and a lifestyle that her husband cannot afford. Her husband brings home the invitation to the ball to make Mathilde happy; however, this backfires, and she is filled with displeasure. She has nothing to wear and no accessories that she feels are appropriate for the occasion. So begins her disappointment.

Though her friend Madame Forestier allows Mathilde to borrow the beautiful necklace, it can be argued that this creates a further sense of disappointment—after all, borrowing fine jewelry is the only way Mathilde can access the wealthy life she so desires. Mathilde will get a taste of the affluent life only while wearing the necklace, but when the ball ends and she returns the necklace, she will inevitably be left feeling sad and disappointed to return to her mediocre life.

The necklace continues as a symbol of disappointment because, upon losing it, Mathilde and her husband are thrust into desperate circumstances and have to give up any luxuries they once had in order to earn enough money to replace the necklace. Once again, the necklace is a source of disappointment for Mathilde.

From the very beginning of the story, the necklace brings nothing but sorrow to Mathilde and therefore is a symbol of her disappointment with life.

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The necklace is the central focus of the story and symbolically represents the hollowness of materialism, the vain pursuit of material wealth, and Mathilde Loisel's superficiality. Mathilde Loisel is depicted as an extremely materialistic, greedy woman, who desperately desires to enjoy the luxurious life of an aristocratic. She resents marrying a clerk and does not feel content in her lower/middle-class life. Mathilde Loisel continually fantasizes about a luxurious lifestyle and initially refuses to attend the ball because she does not have an expensive dress or fine jewelry.

After visiting Madame Forestier, Mathilde decides to wear her diamond necklace but does not realize that it is an imitation. Unfortunately, Mathilde loses the necklace and spends the next ten years working hard to pay back the money she borrowed to purchase an authentic diamond necklace for Madame Forestier. Given everything Mathilde risked to purchase an authentic necklace because of her obsession with appearances and fine jewelry, the necklace symbolically represents her superficiality, the hollowness of materialism, and vain pursuit of material wealth.

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The symbolism of the necklace is made more apparent given the title of the short story is named "The Necklace." Therefore, the necklace, itself, is central to the story.

Given that Mathilde cannot go to the party without jewels, the necklace represents both her greed and artificial nature. First, Mathilde's inability to be satisfied with only a dress, her need for the necklace proves her greed. Compounding this, Mathilde is not happy at first with the choice of jewelry Madame Forestier offers her. She actually asks if there are any other necklaces.

By the end of the story, readers find out that the necklace if fake. The fact that Mathilde wore it like it was real, needed it to appear important (and not what she was), shows her artificiality. The necklace, therefore, represents Mathilde herself: both look like they are worth more than they actually are.

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Let's examine how the symbol of the necklace is used in the story.  At first it is seen as something of value that is desired and yet out of one's reach.  In the end of the story, it's true value is revealed and it is "fake".  We can expand this symbol to include anything that we might strive for in life?  The question becomes "Is this really real?" or am I sacrificing things of true value for something that in essence is worthless?  If the necklace represents "status" in one's life is it really something we ought to value?

The the symbol of the necklace speaks to the difference between appearances and reality.  It asks us to question what it is we value and to develop the ability to be truly discerning in embracing those values.

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