Where and when does the short story "The Necklace" take place?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Necklace," by French writer Guy de Maupassant, does not specify which time period it takes place in; however, the story is most likely set during the late 19th century, known as the Belle Époque, since it was written in 1884. The Bell Époque was a time of great peace, prosperity, and new entertainment for the upper classes and nouveau-riches of France, but also a time of terrible poverty and suffering for those trapped in lower classes.  

The story highlights this socioeconomic divide by following the troubles of Madame Mathilde Loisel, a lovely young woman living in Paris with her husband, a clerk with a modest salary. Mathilde longs to be a part of the grand society around her, lusting after their luxurious lifestyles and flamboyant parties. After she gets the chance to attend such a party for one lavish night, Mathilde loses the diamond necklace she had borrowed and ends up driving herself and her husband into colossal debt in order to replace it. In a horrifying twist, Mathilde learns many years later that the necklace was a fake; her obsession with the riches of others and her financial ruin was for nothing. 

beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy de Maupassant’s short story the “The Necklace” is set in Paris during the 1800s. The story opens in Madame Loisel’s lower middle class flat where she daydreams of a more aristocratic life. She is saddened by her surroundings and circumstances, and longs for better. Her husband surprises her with an invitation to a ball at the home of the Minister of Education and his wife, Madame Ramponneau. After procuring appropriate attire and jewelry, the couple attends the party. Unfortunately, Madame Loisel loses the necklace that she borrowed from her friend. Thinking that the piece was worth much more than it really was the couple spends ten years paying off the cost of the replacement. During those years, they gave up their meager flat and moved to a garret under the roof while they toiled to pay off the debt.