Why doesn't Madame Loisel enjoy her life at the beginning of the story?

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Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Madame Loisel is the picture of discontent at the opening of the story.  She has a modest life married to a man who makes a modest income, but she spends her time wishing away the life she has for something more.  She wishes to be rich, to be envied, and to be desired.  She is jealous of those friends who have surpassed her on the social ladder, and she even refuses to visit them because she is ashamed of her station.  She feels intimidated by the success of her good friend Madame Forestier, and she envies her apparent life of leisure.  She is so absorbed in what others have that she fails to appreciate the life she does have.  She is obviously not of the lowest social class, because Maupassant tells us she has a young girl who does her housework for her.  Because of this discontented spirit, nothing her poor husband does for her ever seems to be enough.  This attitude is what eventually causes her downfall.

terridudley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the story of The Necklace begins, the reader is introduced to one of the main characters, Madame Loisel. She appears to live a modest existence, but longs for a way of life that she is unable to obtain. She nags her husband and expresses her unhappiness over and over again. He tries desperately to please her, only to find that what he brings is never enough to satisfy her insatiable appetite for worldly things and high society life. Her recurring dreams and aspirations for living the high life blinds her to the things that she does have, including a loving husband who would do anything to make her happy. This hunger for high society leads to her destruction as she borrows a necklace to attend a society ball. The twists and turns that transpire, show how wanting more than what you have can lead to self destruction.