Discussion Topic

Exploring the themes, symbolism, and irony in "The Necklace."

Summary:

"The Necklace" explores themes of vanity, pride, and the deceptiveness of appearances. The necklace symbolizes wealth and social status, which Mathilde Loisel covets. Irony is prevalent, as Mathilde's desire for a luxurious life leads to her downfall. The story's greatest irony is revealed when the necklace, which she worked years to replace, turns out to be a fake.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

It is ironic that Mathilde, who prides herself on her beauty and who requires expensive things to feel truly elegant, chooses a cheap imitation diamond necklace to complement her dress—and doesn't even realize how little it is worth.

When Mathilde asks her friend, Madame Forestier, to borrow some jewels, Mathilde is offered her choice of jewelry. After searching through her friend's box of jewels, Mathilde doesn't see anything she likes, even though she is offered jewelry "of exquisite workmanship." Unsatisfied with her options, she asks Madame Forestier if she has anything else. When she is presented with the "diamond" necklace, Mathilde is so exited that her "heart [begins] to beat covetously." Her hands tremble and she can barely lift it. Mathilde embraces her friend for her generosity in loaning her this exquisite necklace and is filled with ecstasy over the sight of the jewels around her neck.

Yet the "diamonds" are cheap replicas and are comparatively worthless. Though the jewels make Mathilde feel beautiful and elegant, they hold almost no value. Thus, the emotions that they elicit are ironic; Mathilde feels that the necklace makes her worthy of attending the ball, yet she is elegant and graceful despite the fact that she wears worthless jewels.

Mathilde believes that she was destined to enjoy the luxuries of life, yet she fails to demonstrate an ability to recognize authentic jewels from cheap replicas. This is an ironic twist that costs her the very beauty that she takes so much pride in early in the story.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

The irony in this short story is that while Mathilde and her husband spend a decade working to replay the loan they took to replace Madame Forestier's necklace, which Mathilde lost, the original necklace had been close to worthless. In addition, Mathilde's attempt to improve her social standing by being seen wearing the necklace backfires and causes a decade of sacrifice.

It is Mathilde's dissatisfaction with her life of mediocrity that leads her to a life of poverty, in which she must do heavy housework and hard labor. Instead of elevating her to a status of wealth and envy, borrowing the necklace lands her in a far worse predicament than that which she was in at the beginning of the story.

I would argue that there is also irony in the fact that Mathilde so craved the affection and attention of society, when all the while, she had a loving husband who would do anything for her.

She eventually learns that the necklace she borrowed was worth, at most, 500 francs. The replacement, which had cost the whole of Monsieur Loisel's inheritance as well as sizable loans, was 36,000 francs. If Mathilde had agreed to go with her husband's suggestion of using flowers rather than jewelry to complement her outfit, the couple could have spared themselves ten years of debt and heartache.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

There are several examples of irony that can found in "The Necklace." One of the first examples of situational irony takes place when Monsieur Loisel informs his entitled wife that they have been invited to an exclusive ball at the palace of the Ministry. He expects his wife to be pleased by the good news but is crestfallen when she responds with scorn. Mathilde Loisel bursts into tears and laments that she does not have anything pretty to wear, which is why she doesn't want to attend. Mathilde's reaction to the invitation is ironic because her response is the opposite of what her husband expected.

Another example of situational irony concerns the fact that Madame Forestier's necklace is simply a cheap imitation and the Loisels take on considerable debt to replace it with an authentic necklace. It is ironic that the Loisels work for ten years to pay off a genuine diamond necklace to replace something that was worthless.

Essentially, the Loisels ruin their credit and stress themselves out over nothing. It is also ironic that Mathilde descends into further poverty after borrowing the necklace. Mathilde was already dissatisfied with her humble life and hoped that attending the ball at the Ministry would bolster her reputation and status. Ironically, Mathilde and her husband experience significant financial distress after attending the ball. It is also ironic that Mathilde loses her beauty after ten years of labor, which was her only valuable asset.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

Madame Loisel thought that by wearing what she thought was an expensive necklace to the Education Ministry ball, she'd be going up in the world socially. Unsatisfied with her social position and believing herself entitled to better things, Mathilde genuinely thought that the necklace would provide an entrée into a rarefied social world that it would allow her to impress the upper echelons of society with her grace, beauty, and elegance.

In a case of supreme irony, however, things don't turn out like that. Instead of going up in the world socially, Mathilde falls right down the social ladder. All this was because the necklace that Mathilde wore to the ball—and which she subsequently lost—was actually a fake.

But because Mathilde was blissfully unaware of this uncomfortable fact, she and her husband go into considerable debt in order to buy a replacement. In other words, they pay for an expensive item that was a replacement for a worthless piece of costume jewelry. As a result, the Loisels are plunged into desperate poverty, the exact opposite of the condition in which Mathilde expected to find herself.

Here we have a prime example of what's called situational irony, where the outcome of the story is the opposite of what we'd normally expect to happen.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

In the short story "The Necklace," Madame Loisel has lost the diamond necklace that she borrowed from Madame Forestier. In a panic, she and her husband scrape together enough money to buy a replacement. She had to work hard for many years to repay the loans, having to give up her wealthy lifestyle and scrimp and save for ten long years. When she happens to meet Madame Forestier in the park after those hard years, Madame Loisel can't hold her tongue. She blames Forestier for her hardship, and explains what she had to do to replace the necklace.

The irony: the necklace was costume jewelry, worth very little money! The irony in this story can be called situational irony.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

Irony is a very effective device in literature and exists in two forms. Verbal irony is a method in which "statements often convey a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meanings."  In situational irony, which is what gives "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant its stunning twist in the final lines, "actions often have an effect exactly opposite from what is intended."

Madame Mathilde Loisel is a woman who feels misplaced in her life.  She settled for a marriage with her husband Monsieur Loisel solely because she was not able to marry "higher." She resents the simple home they share and its sparse, plain furnishings, and while her husband dines heartily, she dreams of the riches and finery of the life she feels she should have had.  So resentful is she of her present situation that she even spurns a friendship because the woman is wealthier than she, and the envy this creates for her causes her intense suffering.

When her husband presents her with an invitation to a ball, and then with the money to buy a new dress that she feels will be worthy of the image she wishes to present, she still feels she cannot go without the proper jewelry.  Her husband, wanting nothing more than to make her happy, suggests she borrow a piece from her friend Madame Jeanne Forestier.  Rifling through the jewelry, she fastens on a beautiful diamond necklace.  With this stunning piece adorning her, Mathilde feels she can truly look the part she wishes to portray.

At the ball, Mathilde lives out her fantasy.  She is admired, envied, complimented, and sought after.  However, when arriving home, she realizes with horror that the necklace is missing.  Following fruitless searches, she and her husband buy a replacement, and Madame Forestier is not told of the loss.  This begins a ten-year endeavor to pay back the debts accrued. Mathilde, during this time, knows poverty, sacrifice, and back-breaking work, and the woman she becomes is a mere shadow of the woman she was before the ball.

When she encounters Madame Forestier after the debts are finally paid, her friend is shocked to see these alterations, and when Mathilde relates the story of the missing necklace, the replacement, and the years of toil and deprivation, Madame Forestier reveals the stunning truth - that the lost necklace was simply costume jewelry, worth a mere fraction of the replacement piece.

This is the situational irony of "The Necklace."  The piece of jewelry that Madame Loisel used to escape the life she had for the duration of the ball was the vehicle for her descent into the life she now lives - "an effect exactly opposite from what (was) intended."

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

The ironic end of the short story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant is that the diamond necklace Madame Loisel wore in the story was but an imitation diamond necklace. When Madame Loisel is invited to an elite party among the rich of the town, she is completely distressed that she won't be able to wear a fine dress and jewelry. Her husband, seeing her sadness, gives her 400 francs to buy a lovely dress. This, however, does not satisfy Madame Loisel, who so desperately wants to be a part of high society, so she borrows a diamond necklace from her wealthy friend. She wears the necklace all night and is overjoyed. When the couple returns home from the party, they realize that the necklace is lost and are horrified. They find a replacement necklace and spend all their savings to purchase it, having to work for ten grueling years to finish paying it off. One day, after ten years of hard labor, Madame Loisel discovers that the necklace was a fake that cost just 500 francs. This underscores the ridiculousness of the woman's obsession with being rich and of elite society.

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What kind of irony is found in "The Necklace"?

Guy de Maupassant utilizes situational irony in his short story "The Necklace," when Mathilde Loisel spends ten years working nonstop to replace Madame Forestier's diamond necklace, which turns out to be fake. Situational irony is when actions in a story have an opposite, unintended effect, so that the outcome is contrary to what was originally expected. Simply put, it is when something unexpected happens in the story that was entirely opposite of what the audience expected. In Guy de Maupassant's short story, Mathilde Loisel borrows Madame Forestier's presumably expensive diamond necklace to wear to an upper-class party. Unfortunately, Mathilde loses the necklace and purchases a similar necklace for thirty-six thousand francs to replace Madame Forestier's lost diamond necklace. In order to pay off the necklace, Mathilde labors for the next ten years, only to discover that Madame Forestier's necklace was a worthless imitation. This is an example of situational irony, because Mathilde and the audience did not expect to discover that the diamond necklace was fake. The outcome is completely unexpected and the audience feels sorry for Mathilde.

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What kind of irony is found in "The Necklace"?

Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" follows the tragic tale of Madame Loisel, a woman who longs to be part of the aristocracy and who pays dearly for that desire. After she spends years pining away after the fancy parties thrown by those far wealthier and more important than her, Madame Loisel's husband secures her an invitation to one of these parties. Still, Madame Loisel is not happy until she has been given the money to purchase new attire for the affair and until a friend of hers (Madame Forestier) agrees to allow her to borrow a diamond necklace to wear to the party.

However, while at the party, Madame Loisel loses the necklace. Rather than come clean about her mistake, she drives herself and her spouse into financial ruin in order to pay for a replacement. It is only much later that she learns from Madame Forestier that the necklace she had lost was not made of diamonds at all—it was a fake made out of paste. 

This type of irony is situational irony because the outcome of the story is very different than what Madame Loisel (or the audience) may have anticipated. The party she attends in the hopes of increasing her social standing instead ruins it. It is her obsession with wealth and social position that ultimately drives Madame Loisel into poverty and a fall from social grace—certainly the opposite of what she intended!

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What kind of irony is found in "The Necklace"?

In The Necklace, the irony is called irony of situation.  There is a great difference between what is expected and what occurs.

When Madame Loisel borrows the diamond necklace from Madame Forestier she believes that it is worth a lot of money.  Therefore, when she loses it, she is stricken with the burden of what it will take to replace it, they borrow money to buy a new necklace, effectively giving Madame Forestier a real diamond necklace.  They are then bound to a life of drudgery to pay back the loan.  She does not know, nor do we, the reader, that the necklace is fake. 

Madame Loisel and her husband work very hard to earn money to pay back the loan, believing what they did was noble and honorable.  When they discover that the necklace was fake, they have wasted their time and effort put themselves into a cycle of drudgery for nothing. 

In fact it is ironic that Madame Loisel longs to be rich, a fake existence really, and ends up having her life shaped by a fake necklace. Situational irony.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

"The Necklace" is an example of situational irony. In situational irony, circumstances work out in a way opposite of what is expected.

In the story, Madame Loisel borrows a necklace from a rich friend, sure the large, glittering stone is a real diamond of great value. When she loses the necklace, she and her husband never question her assumption of what it is worth. They sacrifice all their pleasures in life for years when they take out a huge loan to replace the necklace. Later, in an ironic twist, they find out the diamond was only a cheap imitation.

An ironic twist is surprising, which usually startles and delights a reader. In this case, the irony also carries a moral lesson. It is not really losing the necklace that has ruined Madame Loisel's life. It is her confused and mistaken sense of values. She puts far too much emphasis on appearances. She lives in a fantasy world of yearning for a wealthy, romantic life that doesn't really exist. Just as she is unable to evaluate the worth of the diamond, she is unable to discern what is truly important and valuable in life. In some sense, Madame Loisel was always doomed to unhappiness because reality was never going to satisfy her.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

The necklace might be considered a symbol of wealth, of vanity, of deception, of illusion, of false values, high society, an illusion to Cinderella, or something else. The story is bitterly ironic. Not only does Mathilde suffer from paying a fortune for a necklace that is made of fake jewels, but her poor husband, who was only trying to make her happy, is dragged into the pit of despair along with her. Irony is often, if not always, like a bad joke. It is like a joke that would be funny if only it were not so painful. It would take a very cruel reader to laugh at Monsieur and Madame Loisel for what happened to them. That is why the story is ironic and not funny. They work and slave for ten years to pay for a replacement necklace that was only worth about five hundred francs, something like a hundred dollars in American money at the time. Not only that, but Mathilde loses her beauty, grace, charm, and even her dreams during that terrible time.

It is true that she is punished for her vanity, but she isn't much different from the rest of us. It is hard to laugh at her when it is so easy to understand her. The rich people she reads about, as well as her friend Madame Forestier, make her feel envious. She knows she is as good as they are, if not better. She knows she is prettier and sexier and more attractive in many ways than her friend Madame Forestier and than all of the women who will be going to the Minister's Ball. But aren't we all a little envious of people who have more than we do?

Goe, and catche a falling starre,
Get with child a mandrake roote,
Tell me, where all past yeares are,
Or who cleft the Divels foot,
Teach me to heare Mermaides singing,
Or to keep off envies stinging,
And find
What winde
Serves to advance an honest minde.
John Donne

This seems to be how Maupassant makes his tale ironic. We don't want to see Mathilde suffer and lose her beauty. We don't want to see her husband spending the whole day working at his job and then trying to make a few extra sous doing copy work at home by candlelight. And most of us, unfortunately, know what it feels like to be in debt, robbing Peter to pay Paul, borrowing money to pay back borrowed money. It is torture. If the situation gets bad enough it can keep people awake nights with pounding hearts, when they should be resting, storing up physical and mental energy for the battle for survival that will begin again tomorrow. It is ironic that the necklace wouldn't have really been worth a fortune even if it had been made of real diamonds. Maupassant seems to be saying that life itself is of vastly more value than mere objects.

Do you not see what feigned prices are set upon little stones and rarities? and what works of ostentation are undertaken, because there might seem to be some use of great riches?
                                               Francis Bacon, “On Riches”

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant is an ironic story in the sense that Mathilde Loisel was ultimately brought down by what she wanted most in life — expensive things. Mathilde was a pretty girl who was raised in a modest family, but she always wanted to be rich. Even when she married a clerk, she still desired riches out of her reach. One day, Mathilde's husband brought her an invitation to a lavish party, but Mathilde did not want to go because she did not think she owned anything enough to wear to the party. Her husband encouraged her to wear her best ball gown, but she did not think it was good enough. She went to Madame Forrestier and borrowed one of her best necklaces for the party. Mathilde loved the necklace and the attention it brought her at the party; she finally had the fame she always coveted. It was not until after the party that Mathilde realized she lost the necklace. In a panic, Mathilde and her husband went to a jeweler to attempt to replace the necklace. An exact replica would cost 36000 francs, far more than the humble clerk's salary. The couple borrowed money at usurious rates. Mathilde worked as a maid to help pay off the loans. The couple did this for ten years. After ten years, Mathilde ran into Madame Forrestier again. Madame Forrestier commented that Mathilde looked terrible, and Mathilde explained she lost Madame Forrestier's necklace and bought her another one to replace it. At that point, Madame Forrestier told Mathilde the necklace was a piece of costume jewelry made of paste that cost less than 400 francs. This is the irony of the situation. Mathilde coveted fame and riches her entire life, but was miserable when she got it. The jewelry she borrowed thinking it was worth so much was something she could have easily bought in a novelty shop.  

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

The most important example of irony is that Mathilde had spent years of hard work to make up for the money it cost her to replace her debt (for buying a diamond necklace) when in fact the necklace she borrowed and lost was a fake necklace. 

In the beginning of the story, Mathilde refused to go to a party because she didn't have anything to wear, let alone any jewelry to accent it with.  After she borrows the necklace, she loses it somewhere on her way home from the party.  Had she told the truth, Mathilde would have found out that the necklace was not genuine.  Instead, she went out and bought a real diamond necklace to replace the one she borrowed.

Another example of irony is that Madame Forestier didn't even look at the necklace that was returned after Mathilde borrowed it.  Mathilde was worried that if she looked at it, she would see that it wasn't the exact same necklace.  The irony here is that if she DID look at it, she would have seen that it was a genuine necklace, not the fake one she owned.  All would have been resolved at this point instead of years later after the "social climbing" Mathilde dropped her status by having to do hard labor.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

The use of irony by Maupassant in "The Necklace" helps to convey the moral truths of his narrative.

Situational Irony - A contradiction between the event that occurs and the expectations of a character.

1. In the exposition of this story, Madame Loisel is, ironically, unhappy in her current state as the wife of a civil servant:

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

Little does she know that the situation will get worse for her during her enjoyment at the reception at the Ministerial Mansion or after she loses the necklace loaned her by Madame Forestier.

2. Of course, the ending of the story has an ironic twist in which Madame Loisel learns that the necklace which she has replaced with a diamond necklace was an imitation diamond and not worth what she has sacrificed for during all her years of haggling with the grocer and scrubbing her own floors as she has been dressed like a peasant.

Dramatic Irony - A contrast between what a character thinks and what the reader knows to be true.

Madame Loisel has felt that it is better to deceive her old schoolfriend Madame Forestier by replacing the lost necklace with another; however, if she were honest, she would have learned that the necklace is not made of real diamonds.

Clearly, the moral truths of the value of honesty with friends and others, and the value of appreciating what one has rather than being envious of more are given impact and meaning through Maupassant's use of irony.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

In Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace,” the most obvious use of irony comes at the end of the short story. Mathilde, a working class woman, borrows a necklace to attend a dance at the home of the Secretary of Education, a social event that she coveted. She dresses for the occasion, and wears her friend’s exquisite necklace that sets off her beauty. At the end of the night, the necklace is lost. Mathilde is afraid to tell her friend the truth about the lost necklace, so she and her husband go into debt to purchase a replacement. After ten years, they repay their debt but at a great price as they have nothing else to show for their hard work. Mathilde has a chance meeting with her friend and tells her how the lost necklace changed her life. The friend explains that the necklace Mathilde borrowed was an inexpensive imitation. The irony is that if Mathilde had simply told the truth about the lost necklace, she would not be in her current predicament. It is also ironic that Mathilde placed value on her good looks and the little money she had. Both were lost because of her lack of judgement in not trusting her friend with the truth. In the end, she did come to value a good day’s work in spite of all she lost.

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What is the irony in "The Necklace"?

Situational irony takes place when actions have an opposite effect from what was originally intended. In "The Necklace," Mathilde, despite her relatively lowly station in life, thinks herself so much better than her surroundings. She does not just aspire to better things; she believes herself entitled to them. To her, it is just a matter of time before she attains the place in high society which is her due.

But Mathilde's shallowness and snobbery lead to her demise. She thinks that wearing an expensive diamond necklace will make her the belle of the Education Ministry ball. But she subsequently loses it and forces herself and her husband into poverty trying to pay for a replacement. When she finds out that the necklace was a fake, the situational irony has come full circle. Mathilde desperately wanted to wear the necklace to improve her social standing, but now she is worse off than she was before and occupies a lower social class.

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What is the theme of "The Necklace," and how does the author use symbolism and irony?

The theme of “The Necklace” is that we ought to be grateful for what we have rather than constantly wishing for more. Madame Loisel pities herself immensely because of her lack of wealth and her personal feeling that she was “born for every delicacy and luxury.” Instead of being surrounded by opulence—“exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments”—she is compelled to make do with her marriage to a man with a good job, a servant to help her with the most menial wifely duties, and a comfortable home with food on the table.

Despite all that she does have, she “suffers endlessly” because she wants so much more. Madame Loisel is unable to appreciate a husband who would go to great lengths to secure an invitation to a party just to make her happy, who would give up the money that he was saving for something for himself so that she could have a new dress for this one night, and so on. He is grateful for what they have, and she is not.

The necklace she borrows from her friend, Madame Forestier, embodies extent of Madame Loisel’s desire for luxury, at any cost. The necklace is a symbol of her lust for wealth: she cannot recognize that what she already has in her life has true, real value, just as she cannot recognize the worthlessness of the necklace, which is not actually a diamond at all. She thinks that she knows what is truly valuable, but she does not. The irony of the necklace’s actual cheapness underscores the idea that we should be grateful for and recognize the good things in our lives rather than being so focused on acquiring more.

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What is the theme of "The Necklace," and how does the author use symbolism and irony?

The main themes of “The Necklace” first and foremost, in my opinion, is Class Conflict as Madame Loisel, a member of lower class strives to appear to be in a higher class than she actually is, which causes conflict, but it also hints at another theme of Appearances and Reality.  Madame Loisel is determined to make herself appear to be at a higher level on the social ladder than she actually is; however her desire to attain this goal leads to a display of Generosity on the part of Madame Forestier as she loans a very expensive necklace to the Greedy Madame Loisel who looses it.  The necklace actually seems to be a symbol of her life, the insincerity of her character, and how her greed leads to her ultimate misery in life because she is forced to give up her own goals in life to repay Madame Forestier for the necklace she has lost, effectively ending her feeble climb up the social ladder.  Irony is best demonstrated in the fact that she wastes her life to pay for a cheap copy of the original necklace, while she herself is nothing more than a cheap copy. Check the links below for more information.

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What is the theme of "The Necklace," and how does the author use symbolism and irony?

The theme of the short story, "The Necklace" is to be happy with who you are and what you have.  Madame Loisel lived in the middle class society but longed to be a member of high society.  She wanted to live above her means and would do whatever it took to get there.  Her husband provided the stepping stone to enter the world of the upper class by getting an invitation to a prominent reception.  From there she talked her husband into giving her the money to have a wonderful dress to fit in with them and then the final highlight was to borrow a wonderful diamond necklace from Madame Forestier to wear to the reception.  The ironic situation is the source of her joy, the necklace, becomes her downfall when she loses it and has to work the next ten years of her life to replace it.  She not only loses her middle income status but falls into poverty and spends the rest of her life suffering for her dreams.  The symbolism of the necklace is social acceptance into a world where she longs to be, but doesn't belong. 

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What is the theme of "The Necklace," and how does the author use symbolism and irony?

Enotes has an excellent response to your question at the URL below. The necklace itself represents the theme of appearances versus reality. “While sufficiently beautiful to make Madame Loisel feel comfortable during the ministerial ball, the necklace is actually nothing more than paste and gilt. Thus, it is not the reality of wealth or high social class that is important for Madame Loisel, just the appearance of it.” As the discussion on enotes points out, other themes involve conflict of class (rich vs poor) and greed and generosity.  The irony in the story is that Madame Loisel ruins her life in trying to compensate for the lost necklace, when in fact the necklace was not worth anything to begin with.  As for symbolism, it resides in the title which also carries the theme:  the necklace symbolizes the difference between appearance of  and reality, a wealth that is empty, having no real value. 

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What examples of symbolism exist in "The Necklace" and what is its theme?

Some of the examples of symbolism in "The Necklace" are:  The necklace is a symbol of wealth and power for Madame Loisel.  This represents a world she longs to be in but will never be able to reach.  The apartment that she lives in with her husband is a constant reminder of what she feels is a miserable life that she doesn't deserve and that she was not born to.  Another symbol is the sholder wrap her husband went to put on her shoulders after the reception which again was a reality check as to who she really was and her social class in life.  She was ashamed to have her husband put it on her with the beautiful dress and necklace she was wearing.  It was a total contradiction of who she was trying or posing to be.

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What examples of symbolism exist in "The Necklace" and what is its theme?

There are many themes to this story, including class conflict, appearance and reality, and generosity and greed. The one that resonates with me the most after reading the story, is class conflict. Madam Loisel is so unhappy with her position in life, that she takes advantage of those around her to try and better it. She truly believes that if she can attain the status of being higher class, her life would be happier. The necklace, is clearly the biggest example of symbolism in the story. The necklace for Madam Loisel symbolizes all that she doesn't have in life, and all that she desires. The fact that it's fake, just makes it that much more symbolic of the greed and sacrifice that consumes Madam Loisel and her husband.

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What examples of symbolism exist in "The Necklace" and what is its theme?

The main theme of "The Necklace" a contrast between greed and generosity. Madame Loisel, the protagonist, lives a modest, yet comfortable middle class life with her husband. However, she feels that her lack of luxury is a very great injustice. Her life is comfortable enough to afford one servant, but she wishes for several. She has plenty of food, but she dreams of "delicate meals." Her husband can barely afford to buy her a ball gown, but she insists on having jewelry to go with it. When she first sees her friend's diamond necklace, "her heart [beats] covetously." Her greed stands in marked contrast to the generosity of her husband and Madame Forestier.

The necklace itself represents the theme of appearances versus reality. While sufficiently beautiful to make Madame Loisel feel comfortable during the ministerial ball, the necklace is actually nothing more than paste and gilt. Thus, it is not the reality of wealth or high social class that is important for Madame Loisel, just the appearance of it.

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In "The Necklace," how does the necklace symbolize irony?

The significance of the necklace being made of false gems does suggest that society places more importance on the superficial, than on what really matters.

That the necklace was a beautiful piece of jewelry is undeniable; it was beautiful enough to catch the attention of not one, but two women: Mdme. Forestier and Mdme. Loisel.

The ecstasy that Madame Loisel feels demonstrates her fixation with the superficial, rather than the appreciation that she should feel for the fact that her husband was good enough to be invited to an important dance.

..her heart throbbed with an immoderate desire. Her hands trembled as she took it. She fastened it round her throat, outside her high-necked waist, and was lost in ecstasy at her reflection in the mirror.

The facetious way in which society interprets what is important is obvious in the importance given to a fake necklace that, in the end, ends up costing her superficiality ten years of her life.

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