The Necklace Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

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With reference to a short fiction by Guy de Maupassant, discuss how he presents class difference. Also, discuss how he promoted social justice?

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From the start of the story, Maupassant tackles the issue of class when he explains that Madame Loisel has been born into a place in the social hierarchy that limits her possibilities in ways she doesn't like. He writes:

She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known, understood, loved, wedded, by any rich and distinguished man; and she let herself be married to a little clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction.

Madame Loisel is lower-middle class and has done well for herself in gaining a husband from her own class and a comfortable if modest life, but she dreams of wealth and luxury that is out of reach. Therefore, she is constantly dissatisfied because of her class. Being graceful and beautiful, she believes she deserves more and:

she was as unhappy as though she had really fallen from her proper station

Because of her dreams of wealth and splendor, she notices limitations that another woman of her class would never have noticed:

She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the wretched look of the walls, from the worn-out chairs, from the ugliness of the curtains. All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry.

Fine class graduations emerge when her husband gets them both an invitation to a grand event. Madame Loisel is upset, not happy, as her husband had hoped she would be. She doesn't want to be laughed at for her clothes and isn't satisfied until her husband allows her an expensive (but to her just barely acceptable) new dress. She is upset that she no jewels and perks up when her husband suggests she borrow something from her rich friend.

When she loses the diamond necklace she borrowed, and she and her husband have to go into massive debt to replace it, Maupassant reveals the couple falling into a threadbare lifestyles, keeping their heads above waters by pinching every penny. He shows the coarsening effect this has on Madame Loisel.

Maupassant doesn't openly promote social justice, but he does show social injustice. The rich can get away with wearing fake jewels because they are rich, but beyond that, Maupassant suggest that the values Madame Loisel buys into are false. She can't tell a fake diamond from a real one, which symbolizes that the world she admires so much perhaps isn't worth all that much: it is perhaps fake too. Also, the sufferings that the Loisels endure once they go into debt call into question a society in which the costly baubles of the wealthy (whether they are 'worth it' or not) can economically cripple people of average means.

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