What are the thoughts of Madame Loisel in "The Necklace"?Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Guy de Maupassant's writings, there is close psychological examination of the inner desires of people.  Clearly, from the beginning of his short story, "The Necklace," Madame Loisel is preoccupied with the desire to be of a higher class than that into which she has been born: 

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury.  She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean [lowly] walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains.

Maupassant writes that she is "one of those" beautiful young ladies who, lacking a dowry, must live in the bourgeoisie rather than the aflluent class.  Her envy of wealth and the social life that it includes produces a negativity in Mme. Loisel:

The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do he work in her house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. [The Celtic Bretons were very much looked down upon by the other French people.]

In order to escape from her perceived lowly position Madame Loisel imagines how life could be for her:

She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in arm-chairs....She imagined vast saloons, hung with antique silk, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings.

Mme. Loisel even envies a friend and refuses to visit her because in her envy she "would weep whole days with grief, regret, despair, and misery." When her husband brings home the invitation to a ball, she derides his kindly gesture by asking what good it is to her when she does not own an adequate dress.  After her generous and loving husband offers to sacrifice the money he has saved for a rifle and spend it on a dress for her, she ungratefully bemoans the fact that she does not have jewelry to accompany such a dress.  Upon M. Loisel's suggestion to call upon an old school friend, Madame Forestier, Mme. Loisel does so.  And, so, the necklace that she borrows from her old friend proves pivotal to the plot of this story of the myopia of Mme. Loisel who places worth upon the false value of material possessions.  For, when this necklace is lost, she loses her beauty and grace as she must haggle with the grocer and scrub her own floors.  Her poor husband works constantly to repay the debt.  Their life together is spent in penury and pettiness, when it could have been filled with love.

Mme. Loisel's final disillusion comes at the denouement of the narrative, when with false pride she boasts to Mme. Forestier that the necklace that she returned to her former friend was such a good replica that it went undetected.  The irony of her years if struggle hit her when Mme. Forestier reveals that the original was faux, as false as the values of Mme. Loisel.