What is the foolishness of Mathilde in "The Necklace"? What is her expectation in the story?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two character flaws relate to Mathilde's foolishness in the story.  First, she is unappreciative.  Mathilde never realizes what a decent man her husband is.  He selflessly gives up his own desires to make her happy (giving her the money he had saved for a gun so that she can buy a new dress).  Mathilde does not appreciate his sacrifice; she simply asks for more and ignores his heartbreak at not being able to please her. Even when she and her husband work tirelessly for ten years to pay for the replacement necklace, she thinks only of how her carelessness affected her, not how it has broken her husband or negatively affected their relationship.

Mathilde's foolishness is also a result of her focus on the superficial. Appearance is everything to her; so she does not think to look at people's or things' interior. The necklace is the perfect example of this. She assumes that because it comes from Madame Forestier that the necklace is valuable and in the end discovers that it is not. Similarly, she fails to recognize the value of her husband because superficial characteristics such as his job and lack of wealth are all-important to her.