Why is madame Loisel so unhappy as the story opens?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Madame Loisel is discontent with her marriage, her house and its furnishings, her plain clothes, and her social class.

Since she had no dowry and no way of being introduced into high society, Mathilde Loisel found no opportunity of meeting a prosperous and well-bred man. Instead, she finds herself married to a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education. Consequently, she is as discontent as a woman "who has come down in the world." 

Ironically, Madame Loisel does, indeed, "come down in the world." For, when her husband returns from work one evening, he proudly tells his wife, "Look, . . . I've got something for you." With excitement, Mme. Loisel tears open the envelope containing an invitation to the Ministerial Mansion. But, she is soon unhappy because she has nothing to wear. Her husband unselfishly gives her money he has been saving for a rifle, and when she later complains that she has no jewelry to accompany the dress, he suggests she borrow from her old school friend. She does so, and at the reception, Madame Loisel looks lovely. For one evening, then, she is what she has always wanted to be.

She was the prettiest one there, fashionable, gracious, smiling, and wild with joy. All the men turned to look at her, asked who she was, begged to be introduced. All the Cabinet officials wanted to waltz with her. The minister took notice of her.
She danced madly, wildly, drunk with pleasure, giving no thought to anything in the triumph of her beauty, the pride of her success, in a kind of happy cloud.

But the magical evening ends, and Madame Loisel must return to her old life. Once home from the ball, she discovers the necklace that she has borrowed is gone. So, the Loisels purchase a replacement for what they believe is a diamond necklace. After Madame Loisel returns the necklace to her friend, she and her husband work for years to repay the money they have borrowed. Tragically, their lives are ruined by Madame Loisel's vanity, and, in a way, her general discontentment with her life.

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janeyb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Madame Loisel is unhappy because she is ashamed of her social standing. Madam Loisel has always dreamed of a luxurious life with servants and such, and is unhappy because she is not wealthy. She becomes even more upset when she is invited to a ball. It upsets her because she thinks she has nothing to wear which is appropriate for the occasion. Then she is upset because she doesn't have appropraite jewelry. However the base of both of those complaints is that she is unhappy in her social standing.

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neenahh | Student

because she want to be envied an rich an wants everyones attention wont settle for nothing less she ungreatful an very selfish.

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chaldohoti | Student

she is ashamed that she is not rich

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snazario | Student

Madame Loisel is unhappy as the story opens because she is not living the life style that she wants. It states in the story, "She suffered because of her grim apartment with its drab walls, threadbare furniture, ugly curtains." She is not pleased with how her life has come to be, she was never rich but she dreamed of living that life. When she was unable to do so by marrying a rich man she settles in marrying "a minor clerk in the Ministry of Education."

Madame Loisel believes that luxury and money is what makes a person happy. She sees this in her rich friend Mrs. Forrestier, and she wants to live her life. Loisel believed that everything that Mrs. Forrestier had was expensive. Sadly and in a hard way she learned that she was wrong. So not only does madame Loisel opens the story unhappy, but she also ends it unhappy, and it is all due to her obsession of a luxury life style.

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