Write a note on the theme of the story "The Necklace"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Always one to satirize the petty bourgeoisie and the Norman civil servants, Maupassant writes a story about a beautiful young woman and her husband who works at the Ministry of Education. Dissastified with her life, Mathilde Loisel rues that she did not have a dowry to place herself in a marriage of position where she could be admired for her beauty and possessions. 

She grieved incessantly, feeling that she had been born for all the little niceties and luxuries of living.

....She would dream of great reception halls hung with old silks, of fine furniture...and of small, stylish, scented sitting rooms just right for the four o'clock chat with intimate friends, with distinguished and sought-after men who attention every woman envies and longs to attract.

Indeed, it is her flawed reverence for material possessions and social position that becomes thematic to the narrative. For, in her desire for a beautiful dress and a diamond necklace to wear with it, she ignores the needs of her husband, who desires a rifle. Further, when the necklace is lost, Mathilde is too ashamed to admit that she has lost it to her old school friend, Mme. Forestier; so she forces her husband to assist her in purchasing a replacement.

For years she and her devoted husband, who labors evenings and copies documents at night for money, sacrifice to pay for a real diamond necklace; all the while she displays no gratitude to him. Then, when she does see Mme. Forrestier years later, Mathilde blames her for her hard life, "Yes, i've had a hard time...plenty of misfortunes--and all on account of you!"  It is only then that Mathilde Forestier informs Mme. Loisel that she has needlessly sacrificed her happiness for the false value of a material object. Because she has viewed material possessions as of the utmost importance, Mme. Loisel has lost sight the true values of love and friendship, the only values that can bring her contentment. 

yshaw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of The Necklace is far more complex than what is expressed within the text. The overall theme of the short story is to focus on what you have today. Do not wish today away, and worry about what others may have. Focus on what you have learned, what joy you have in your life. Learn to value what is truly important in life, and honor it.