What is the exposition of "The Necklace"?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exposition is usually the first part of the plot (although not always). It is the sum of all the background information and possible details regarding a character, the setting, or the series of events that lead to the story actually occurring.

The idea is not just to provide a background to the story, but also to instill a sense of authenticity to it. It adds depth to the story, as a whole, because it makes it feel as if the story has a solid origin.

In "The Necklace," the exposition of the story presents us with background information of Madame Loisel. This is closely followed by the conflict that will drive the plot forward. 

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born[...] into a family of clerks. She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of becoming known [...] or wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and so she let herself be married to a minor official at the Ministry of Education.

In this exposition, we learn vital facts that will help us eventually understand the personality of Madame Loisel.

She is a woman with no financial means. Having no dowry makes her less, or not at all, likely to draw the attention of a rich man, especially one who wishes to expand his personal fortune by "marrying well," or "marrying within his circle."

Yet, we later find out, she is miserable because she would much rather live a life of luxury. This is her major conflict.

She wants more for herself, which is fine, but then she also completely disregards the few things she does have. She takes them for granted and does not appreciate them. Her misery is such that, when the opportunity presents itself for her to wear a nice dress to go to a grand event, she wants to overdo her look by borrowing a fancy necklace from a well-to-do friend. This is what shows her shallow nature

...there is nothing more humiliating than looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women

She gets so lost in the moment at the party, that she doesn't realize that the necklace is gone from her neck. Rather than face the embarrassment of telling her friend all about it, the Loisels decide to come up with a plan to replace the piece.

You must write to your friend," he said, "tell her you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. It will give us time to look some more."

They go into debt and chose radical ways to make the money to pay up for what they believe is a necklace worth thirty-four thousand francs.

Ten years of sacrifice pass paying back the necklace and the Loisels are almost destitute. When Madame Loisel sees Madame Forestier (her rich friend) again, she explains to her what happened with the necklace, only to be told that the lost necklace was a fake after all. 

Oh, my poor Mathilde! Mine was an imitation! It was worth five hundred francs at most! ...

The irony of it all is felt at a deeper level thanks to the exposition, because we realize that, perhaps, the author is right in saying that she was born "as if by error" in a family of clerks. Perhaps poverty is her fate, from birth, and she cannot escape it.  If the narrator had not said that, we could have missed a key piece of information that makes Madame Loisel easier to understand as a character.

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exposition is a literary technique in which the background information about the characters is given to the reader.

In The Necklace the exposition of Mme. Loisel is presented right away. We find out immediately what kind of person Mme. Loisel is. We know that she's "pretty and charming" and she came from a family of artisans. We find out that she feels she was born into the wrong class of society and settled for marrying her husband. She feels everything in her life is inferior to what she feels she deserves. She spends her days dreaming of being wealthy and admired.

The exposition of this short story doesn't give us much information about Loisel's husband because the focus is on her and the hard lesson she has to learn about being content.

shaida | Student

The exposition is the introduction in a story to provide the reader with a background information of the story. The exposition in "The Necklace" is more about Madame Loisel. Mathilde Loisel feels that she was born into the wrong class of society. She feels that she deserves better. She wines about her old, dingy apartment and her worn out clothes. Sometimes, she dreams of huge houses, with big dining tables, which she would invite her noble friends to eat with her. She dreams of being admired, loved, and envied.

Hope this helps. :)

x3 | Student

wel in the story she a very selfish

and unhappy person..

neenahh | Student

wel in the story she a very selfish

and unhappy person..