Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Maupassant learned much from his godfather and mentor, Gustave Flaubert, displaying in his short stories the same precision and sobriety of language. Maupassant is particularly good in creating atmosphere by describing sights and smells, places and things. He likes to describe his characters through the way that they view their own surroundings:She dreamed of hushed antichambers cushioned with oriental fabrics and illuminated by tall bronze candle sticks, with two imposing footmen in knee breeches, made drowsy by the oppressive heat of the radiators, dozing in large arm chairs. She imagined great rooms bedecked with ancient silk, with splendid furniture decorated with expensive knick-knacks, and of smaller intimate perfumed rooms, intended for five o’clock gossip with the closest friends, the men well-known and sought-after enjoying the envy and attention of every woman.

Although Maupassant tried to suppress his own passions to achieve that objectivity of description for which the realists were known, his sententiousness, nevertheless, shines through:Women have no class and no breeding. Their beauty, their grace, their charm are substitutes for birth and family. Their instinctive shrewdness, their predilection for elegance, their suppleness of spirit are their only system of rank, and in this way the daughters of the common people are the equals of the great ladies.

In this rather pessimistic view of women, Maupassant has descended to the level of the cliché, something that he is rarely guilty of doing, but he also gives his main character a deterministic slant, making her more a victim of forces beyond her control than he undoubtedly intended.

The Necklace Historical Context

Couples dancing a quadrille at a nineteenth-century ball. Published by Gale Cengage

The Third Republic
Following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the expulsion of Napoleon III as emperor, the...

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The Necklace Setting

Maupassant wrote this story set in a present that he knew and had lately lived: Paris in 1880. There, a Breton could find honest labor as a...

(The entire section is 290 words.)

The Necklace Literary Style

Narration and Point of View
Like most of Maupassant's short stories, ‘‘The Necklace’’ is told by an omniscient...

(The entire section is 742 words.)

The Necklace Literary Qualities

In a few words, Maupassant could portray a figure, in a few pages he could describe a fate. Some of his stories in translation fired the...

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The Necklace Social Sensitivity

Maupassant never married, and after reading this story one can guess that at least part of the reason may have been that for ten years he was...

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The Necklace Compare and Contrast

1880s: During the 1880s, as a republican government solidified following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 France entered...

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The Necklace Topics for Discussion

1. What does Matilda covet? How does her desire affect her life?

2. What is ambition? Why is it a good servant but a poor...

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The Necklace Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. What virtue does Madame Loisel learn in her sustained efforts to run her household with the utmost economy? What has this lesson cost her?...

(The entire section is 386 words.)

The Necklace Topics for Further Study

Research the development of France's Third Republic and examine how the society depicted in this story reflects the aspirations and...

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The Necklace Related Titles / Adaptations

Readers who have enjoyed this story would be particularly advised to read Maupassant's story "Boule de Suif" and any of dozens of his short...

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The Necklace Media Adaptations

There are at least three film versions of Maupassant's story available in English. The first, a silent film from 1909, was directed by D. W....

(The entire section is 154 words.)

The Necklace What Do I Read Next?

The other short story that competes with "The Necklace" for the title of "Maupassant's masterpiece" is his first published story, "Boule de...

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The Necklace For Further Reference

Artinian, Artine, editor. The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant. Garden City, NY: Hanover House/Doubleday, 1955. The...

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The Necklace Bibliography and Further Reading

James, Henry. ‘‘Guy de Maupassant,’’ reprinted in his Partial Portraits, Macmillan, 1888, pp....

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The Necklace Bibliography

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Guy de Maupassant. Philadelphia, Chelsea House, 2004. Collection of essays on de Maupassant’s short fiction, divided into sections. The section on “The Necklace” includes a plot summary, a list of characters, a summary of critical views on the work, and four full essays relevant to the story.

Bryant, David. The Rhetoric of Pessimism and Strategies of Containment in the Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993. Using several stories as examples, Bryant discusses de Maupaussant’s depiction of a world hostile to humanity. He describes three constants in the stories that contribute to de Maupassant’s overall unity of vision: the world as a metaphysical farce in which the narrator’s detachment transforms suffering, the power of chance, and writing as a response to fate.

MacNamara, Matthew. “A Critical Stage in the Evolution of Maupassant’s Story-Telling.” Modern Language Review 71, no. 2 (April, 1976): 294-303. Emphasizes the extent to which de Maupassant was influenced by oral tradition and spoken conversation.

Powys, John Cowper. “Guy de Maupassant.” In Essays on de Maupassant, Anatole France, and William Blake. Whitefish, Mont.: Kessinger, 2006. Highlights de Maupassant’s realist approach and his focus on physical reality.

Worth, George J. “The English ’Maupassant School’ of the 1890’s: Some Reservations.” Modern Language Notes 72, no. 5 (May, 1957): 337-340. Chronicles de Maupassant’s career and the metamorphosis of his anecdotal conversational style.