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? Is this price fair or just or necessary? Could she have learned a similar lesson without spending all her youth and prettiness?
2. What does Madame Forestier know of the life experienced by her friend Madame Loisel before and after the loan of the necklace? How truly sophisticated is she to tell her friend that the jewels she worked so hard to replace were paste? What do we know of her from the text, and what can we guess of her personal qualities such as integrity and intelligence? What would a loving friend or a true great lady have done to honor such long, honest labor, rather than make that effort worthless with a single sentence?
3. Why does Maupassant spend so little effort on the character of Monsieur Loisel? Is he unworthy of the reader's attention? Or is his nature and experience so understandable and customary to the reader that it does not need puffed-up explanations? Is Maupassant describing a virtuous man?
4. What were the goals and ideals of the French Revolution? How does Maupassant explore the ideal of "Equality" in this story? Does Matilda believe in equality? What does she do because of her beliefs?
5. What is jealousy? How is it distinct from envy and desire? Are these entirely negative emotions? What good, if any, can these emotions bring to a person's life?
6. What kind of people are the wealthy people envied by Madame Loisel? What do we learn of them from the text? What can we infer from the societal and cultural situations which are presented as common in Paris? Are these people truly great ladies and men of wit and intelligence as well as money?
7. Sketch out a rewrite of the story from the viewpoint of Monsieur Loisel. How is our understanding of the story affected by this viewpoint shift?
8. Discuss whether "The Necklace" is an example of what Henry David Thoreau was meaning when he wrote: "The vast majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
9. Which of these characters are motivated by love? What kind of love? What does this motivation lead them to do? Does this love have a positive effect for this character or anyone else?