What are Mathilde's characteristics in "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant?

Quick answer:

The characteristics of Mathilde from "The Necklace" include envy and vanity. At the start of the story, Mathilde longs for a fancy life. By the end of the story, however, Mathilde sacrifices her dreams due to the necklace incident.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One characteristic of Mathilde is envy. Guy de Maupassant’s short story begins with Mathilde wishing that she had a luxurious life. Her homely curtains, unclean walls, and battered chairs make her upset. She wants finer things. She longs for objects that symbolize wealth and prestige. At dinner, her husband is pleased with the beef stew that they are having, but Mathilde is displeased. She'd rather be consuming some sort of fancy dish on shiny silverware in an elaborate dining room.

Mathilde’s covetous characteristic connects to a key characteristic of hers: manipulation. Mathilde’s husband receives an invitation to a fancy party, but Mathilde claims that she can’t go. She tells her husband that she won't attend as she has nothing to wear. Mathilde’s resistance to the party seems like a guise. Earlier, Mathilde expressed how badly she wanted to be a part of high society. Mathilde was likely making it look like she wouldn’t go to manipulate her husband into giving her money to buy a new dress.

The first two traits of Mathilde aren’t so flattering. But by the end of the story, Mathilde showcases more commendable qualities. To make amends for her greed and the cost of the necklace, Mathilde demonstrates remorse and sacrifice. She commits herself to a life of unglamorous hard work. She takes out the trash, does the dishes, and cleans. These may not totally redeem her character, but it’s certainly a start.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial