Discussion Topic

The climax, falling action, conclusion, and ironic ending of "The Necklace" and its relation to real life

Summary:

The climax of "The Necklace" occurs when Mathilde loses the necklace, leading to the falling action of her and her husband working for years to replace it. The conclusion reveals the necklace was a fake, highlighting the story's ironic ending. This relates to real life by illustrating how pride and vanity can lead to unnecessary hardship and suffering.

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What is the climax of the story "The Necklace"?

Climax is the turning point and the most intense point in a story. To decide where the climax of a story takes place, always look  at when we know the outcome of the main conflict. The climax usually occurs just before this. It usually involves an important event, decision, or discovery that affects the final outcome of the story.

 In "The Necklace", Mathilde spends her life trying to pay for a new necklace for Madame Forestier. Mathilde didn't tell her she had lost the necklace and replaced it with a necklace of real diamonds.  Mathilde's discovery that the necklace was fake certainly affects Mathilde. If she had just told Madame Forestier when she first lost the necklace, her life would have been lived very differently.

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What is the climax of the story "The Necklace"?

The climax occurs at the end of the story, when Madame Forestier tells Mathilde that the lost necklace was actually a fake. 

Here is the exchange between the two women:

You say that you bought a necklace of diamonds to replace mine?"

"Yes. You never noticed it, then! They were very similar."

And she smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her hands.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!"

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What is the conclusion of "The Necklace"?

After working for a decade to repay their debt, the Loisels have finally accomplished their goal. Mathilde Loisel wears the visible effects of her labors; she now looks old and haggard with disheveled hair and red hands. She has spent ten years living in poverty, arguing with the butcher and the grocer over every halfpenny in order to stretch their income as far as possible as they repay various loans. But they have finally done it, and on the final day of the story, Mathilde seems to be taking a moment to relax as she walks along the Champs Élysées to "refresh herself."

At this moment, she spies the friend who had loaned her the fateful necklace. Madame Forestier is still beautiful and still looks young; hard work has altered Mathilde's appearance so much that her former friend no longer recognizes her. When she speaks to Madame Forestier, Mathilde discloses that she has endured great hardship over the past decade and blames it on Madame Forestier.

Madame Forestier is understandably taken aback, having no idea that Mathilde had not returned the exact necklace that she had borrowed. Mathilde confesses that she had lost her friend's necklace all those years before and had borrowed money to replace it. She informs Madame Forestier that she and her husband have worked for the last ten years to repay their debt.

Madame Forestier is "deeply moved" because she realizes the shocking mistake of her former friend. She reveals to Mathilde that the necklace was only made of imitation diamonds and "worth five hundred francs at most." Thus, Mathilde has lost the last ten years of her life repaying a debt for a necklace that was ultimately worthless.

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How does the ending of "The Necklace" relate to real life?

Another very important lesson about the ending of the story is that it clearly indicates that being honest and truthful is the best policy.  Mrs. Forrestier should have told Mathilde that the necklace was fake before she let her borrow it.  Also, Mathilde should have told Mrs. Forrestier that she lost the necklace.  Had she done so, she could have avoided having to labor for so long to buy a new one.  Both parties (the Loisels and Mrs. Forrestier) should have been truthful with each other!

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How does the ending of "The Necklace" relate to real life?

The final line of the story is as follows: 

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!"

This relates to real life because Mathilde acted throughout the story on what she thought to be the case, or what she thought should be the case, as people so often do. She mistook appearance for reality. She did this with herself, mistaking youth and beauty for some innate quality, she did this with society, mistaking the pretty show for what is important, and she did this with the necklace. That's why this story is a classic; the irony is deep and true.

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What makes the ending of "The Necklace" ironic?

The closing sentences of "The Necklace" are ironic because of the sharp contrast between Mathilde Loisel's beliefs and the reality of which she is totally ignorant until her friend enlightens her. This is situational irony. Mathilde is proud  of the fact that she and her husband were able to pay for a replacement for the lost necklace, after ten years of hard work and privation, without Madame Forestier suspecting that the original necklace had been replaced. Then Maupassant drops his surprise ending on the poor, misguided woman like a bomb. Madame Forestier speaks the final words of the story:

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "

Irony is often like a cruel joke. The story would be funny if it were not so painful for the principal character. It would be a very sadistic reader who could laugh at Mathilde Loisel for having lost all her beauty and charm over a cheap imitation necklace. No doubt the revelation reflects back on her evening of social triumph as well. How many of the men she danced with at the ball were aware that she was only wearing a necklace of imitation jewels? How many of the women knew? 

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

Short story plots usually have five specific elements: the exposition (which reveals the conflict), the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. The falling action of a story contains those events which take place just after the climax, which is considered the highest point of interest in a story. In Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace," the climax occurs when Loisel and his wife discover the borrowed necklace is lost. The falling action is revealed in the details which follow:

  • The Loisels purchase a replacement necklace for 36,000 francs. They have to borrow half of the money.
  • Madame Loisel returns the replacement necklace to Madame Forestier, who doesn't notice the difference.
  • The Loisels become poverty stricken because of their debt. They move into a "garret under the eaves" and Mathilde slowly loses her youth and beauty by having to do all of the everyday chores which had previously been done by her maid.
  • Sometimes she daydreams about the night of the ball at the ministry when she was "so beautiful and admired."
  • The debt is paid off after ten years.
  • One Sunday she meets Madame Forestier, whom she hasn't seen for those ten years, on the the Champs Elysées.
  • When Mathilde reveals the truth about the necklace, Madame Forestier informs her that the necklace was fake and worth five hundred francs.

The resolution of the story is the revelation that the necklace was worthless and that Mathilde had wasted her youth paying off the debt.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

After losing Madame Forestier's necklace, Madame Loisel and her husband borrow money to buy an incredibly expensive replacement necklace (diamond).  They then spend the next ten years living in poverty and losing their upper class refinement in order to repay the loan needed to purchase the new necklace.  Madame Loisel ages and becomes rough (vocally, physically).  Finally, she happens to meet Madame Forestier, who is still seems young and beautiful, while walking.  After learning the reason for Loisel's changed appearance, the shaken Forestier reveals that the original necklace had been a fake worth, at most, less than one-seventh the cost of the replacement.  Incidentally, Madame Loisel and her husband could have bought an appropriate replacement without having borrowed money and spent ten years in misery.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

Though there are several different interpretations as to what serves as the climax in this story, it can be argued that it arrives at the revelation that the original necklace was only worthless costume jewelry. The shock and irony that comes from this discovery is what makes the climax so impactful. At this point we and the main character, Mathilde, realize that she has lived in poverty for ten years for no good reason. Indeed this period of poverty takes its toll on Mathilde physically. At the end of the story we are told that she "looked old now" and that she had become "rough like all women of impoverished households." Her hands are "reddened" from washing floors, and she has for ten years had to fight "over every miserable sou."

The climax is also impactful because it has a clear moral message within it. At the beginning of the story, Mathilde is resentful and overly proud. She resents the fact that the walls of her house are "dirty" and the curtains "ugly." She does not appreciate what she has but is always longing for more, for "silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestries" and for "vast living rooms furnished in rare old silks." It is this resentment and this longing for a materially better life which leads to Mathilde's desire for the original necklace, and it is this necklace which then leads to ten years of real poverty. At the climax of the story, therefore, we realize that Mathilde's suffering was brought about by her own pride and by her foolishness. If she had only been more content with what she had, she never would have suffered as much as she did.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

Typically, stories can be divided into sections. Freytag's triangle, or pyramid, illustrates them:

The exposition, or the part where all the main characters and the main conflict are introduced. In "The Necklace, this would be when the reader sees Mathilde Loisel's desire to rise to or be accepted in a social class that is above her husband's means.

Rising action follows. This is the part of the story that leads up to the climax. This is the chain of events that is caused by the initial conflict. In this story, I think the rising action includes the invitation to the ball and Mathilde's visiting her rich friend, Madam Forestier, and borrowing what she believes is a very expensive necklace to go with the expensive dress she convinces her husband to buy for her. It may also include her appearance and her reception at the ball. This event highlights the sharp contrast between the life Mathilde wants and the life she is later forced to live as a consequence of her selfish choices and pride.

The third section is the climax, or turning point. It is also the point where the initial conflict (but not the only conflict necessarily) is resolved. This occurs when Mathilde realizes the necklace is missing. The initial conflict is over. From this point on, Mathilde no longer has a chance to blend in with high society.

The climax is followed by the falling action, which consists of the events that occur as a result of the climax. Mathilde and her husband must take a cheap apartment and work themselves into premature aging to pay for the lost necklace.

The last part of the story is the denouement, or resolution. This is the part where all the tangled conflicts are untied. the word denouement literally means unraveling. A more American interpretation would be to say the loose ends were all tied up. Mathilde runs into her old rich friend who still looks young and beautiful. She tells her how she worked to replace the necklace, and learns that she wasted her life for nothing, since the necklace she lost was fake.

For a graphic representation of the parts of a story, I am adding a link to a page the shows Freytags triangle/pyramid. I am also including a link to enotes summery of the story and some information on Gustav Freytag, the author and critic after whom the pyramid is named.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

The first couple of paragraphs offer exposition on Madame Loisel.  Exposition is the term for the background information offered by the narrator, typically at the beginning of a story, in order to acquaint the reader either with information they need to understand about the characters or setting, or to tell us about events that took place before the story begins.

The rising action refers to the events that take place prior to the climax of the story, excluding any exposition.  The climax, to my mind, is when Madame Forestier tells her old friend, Madame Loisel, that the necklace she lent ten years prior contained imitation diamonds and was worth, at the most, five hundred francs instead of the thirty-six thousand francs the Loisels had paid for a replacement necklace when Mathilde lost the original.  I believe this is the climax because this is the turning point, the moment of the greatest tension in the story.  It is also the last event that takes place in the story, meaning that there is no falling action or resolution.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

The rising action of any story is the portion of the text which falls between the introduction and the climax. In the introduction, the setting and characters are introduced. In "The Necklace," the introduction consists of the introduction of Monsieur and Madame Loisel (a small description of Madame Forestier) and the rather shabby home the Loisel's live in. The rising action begins when M. Loisel gives his wife, Mathilde, an invitation to a party.

Therefore, the rising action includes the following things:

-Mathilde's need of a dress (her husband gives her 400 francs to buy one)

-Mathilde's need of jewelry (her husband suggests she borrow one from Madame Forestier)

-Mathilde is readily accepted at the party (everyone wishes to be introduced to her and to dance with her)

-Mathilde regards herself in the mirror so she can imprint her image in her mind and remember the night forever

-Mathilde realizes she has lost the necklace.

After realizing she has lost the necklace, the remainder of the story is left to the falling action (or denoument) and the conclusion. The falling action consists of getting a new necklace and signing loans to pay for it, working for 10 years to pay off the debt, and Mathilde becoming an unrecognizable woman. The conclusion is where Mathilde runs into Madame Forestier and finds out the necklace was fake.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

Introduced in the beginning of "The Necklace" as a woman who feels that she has been cheated by fate, Madame Loisel is described as 

...one of those pretty and charming girls, born, as if by an accident of fate, into a family of clerks.  With no dowry, no prospects....
She grieved incessantly, feeling that she had been born for all the little niceties and luxuries of living.

When Matilde Loisel is able to participate in one of the "luxuries of living" as her husband has received an invitation to a reception at the Ministerial Mansion, she is provided a new dress by her husband's sacrifice of his money saved for a new rifle. But, she feels she must have a necklace for this dress; so her husband suggests that she ask her old school friend if she may borrow one. Graciously, Madame Forestier allows Matilde to select "a superb diamond necklace" from a black satin box.

At the ball, Mme. Loisel receives the attention of many men, to her delight. She dances late into the night. When she and her fatigued husband finally arrive home and "climb wearily" to their apartment, she lets her wrap fall before the mirror only to realize "the necklace was gone." This discovery is the climax of the narrative as it is the point of highest emotional intensity.

Her husband and Mathilde search and search, but they are unable to find it.  

She remained in her evening clothes, without the strength to go to bed, slumped in a chair in the unheated room, her mind a blank.

After this loss, the lives of the Loisels takes a turn for the worse as they work and sacrifice to pay for the replacement of the necklace. 

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

I agree with the previous editor, pohnpei, that the climax to the Guy de Maupassant short story, "The Necklace," comes when Madame Loisel discovers that the necklace is lost. As far as climaxes go, this one comes fairly early in the story. The other possibility would be when Madame Loisel discovers the truth about the necklace that she has lost: that it is only paste and that she has wasted a decade of her life. However, this is more closely identified as an unexpected surprise ending (a de Maupassant trademark) rather than the true climax.

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What is the falling action of "The Necklace"?

In my opinion, the climax of this story is the point at which Madame Loisel realizes that the necklace that she has borrowed is gone.

I think this is the climax because I think the rising action is the conflict within herself that arises because of her desire to be more high class than she is.  That conflict ends up with her borrowing the necklace to pretend she is something she is not.  Then she loses it and the falling action is where we find out how that will affect her life.

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