Mathilde Loisel is materialistic and unappreciative. Although her husband works diligently to provide for their family, even attempting to offer her the best that he could afford. His wife would have preferred a wealthier husband, however.
“She had no dowry, no expectations, no way of being known, understood, loved, married by any rich and distinguished man; so she let herself be married to a little clerk of the Ministry of Public Instruction.”
Despite her husband’s attempts to satisfy her desires, Mathilde is greedy for greater wealth. She feels that she was born to live a life a luxury and that her life as the mere wife of a clerk is destined to be fruitless and unimportant.
“She had no gowns, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that. She felt made for that.”
Even when her husband secures exclusive invitations to an extravagant ball, she is still discontented:
“Instead of being delighted, as her husband had hoped, she threw the invitation on the table crossly, muttering: "No; there's nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich."
Instead of acknowledging her husband’s gift, she rudely suggests that he has created a situation that will only embarrass her. Her husband is forced to compromise with her and give her all of the money that he has saved so that she can purchase a ball gown. He further encourages her to borrow a piece of jewelry from her friend, Madame Forestier. They attend the ball together, but Mathilde spends the evening with other men, neglecting her husband shamelessly.
After losing the necklace, Mathilde experiences poverty. She can no longer afford to pay anyone to complete her household chores. She and her husband are forced to survive on the barest necessities so that they can save enough to repay Madame Forestier.