Essay Preview: The Necklace
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“We want what we cant have”: This renowned adage has been the cold reply of many parents to their sobbing children as they walk out of the toy store. At the time, the heartbroken children might not fully grasp the words of their parents, but as they grow up they will understand that the well known adage holds true to its meaning. Almost everybody has experienced this feeling, whether it is as young children or as wise adults. Examples of this noted proverb is evident both in print and on screen. Now, since this is the case with most people around the world, it is not difficult to see how this byword applies to Guy de Maupassants short story “The Necklace.” Its protagonist, Mathilde Loisel, longing for a lavish lifestyle rather than her middle class way of life, falls under the spell of an priceless diamond. Dealing with her fate, some of Mathildes strong character traits soon become apparent. Examining these attributes, we discover that Mathilde Loisel definitely has a negative personality.
The first of many character traits of Mathilde Loisel that Maupassant makes evident in the “The Necklace” is greed. She longs for a better life, one in which all her wildest dreams are transformed into reality. This rapacity causes her to drift away from her lifestyle and come back wanting more than she has or can afford. The voraciousness that consumes her whole way of life is truly a sign of inner weakness, a weakness she has for wealth and beauty. She would get lost in her own little fantasy world where everything was just pristine and perfect, with things she knew she would never be able to afford. She would daydream of “silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry, lit by tall bronze candelabra, and of the two great footmen in knee breeches” (452,Maupassant, “The Necklace”). Moreover, greed takes over Mathilde as she opts for a new dress, telling her husband, “I dont know exactly, but I think I could manage it with four hundred francs.” (453, Maupassant, “The Necklace”). She even contemplated how much money she could squeeze out of her husband without “drawing on herself an immediate refusal” (453, Maupassant, “The Necklace”). Her greed filled every aspect of her life and she ended up paying for it at the end.
Another character trait of Mathilde is being unrealistic. Instead of focusing on the things in her own life and fulfilling her own obligations, she just stargazes about how her life could have been better if she lived a life of luxury. She constantly imagines a life filled with grandeur, of fine furnishings, and clothes. It is observable that she is not satisfied with her husband, and often dreams what life would have been like if she were married further up the social class. She yearns for a luxurious life that is highlighted with candlelight dinners, large rooms, and servants willing to meet her every need. Rather than trying to improve her lifestyle, she wastes her time imagining if she had taken a different path in life. She even wanted to go to parties and have “talks at five oclock with intimate friends, with men famous and sought after…” (452, Maupassant, “The Necklace”). Even as she had supper with her husband, she couldnt help but dream about “dainty dinners [and] of shining silverware…” (452, Maupassant, “The Necklace”). Maupassant makes it obvious that Mathilde has an overactive imagination that unfortunately catches up to her in the long run.
Without a doubt, one of Mathildes more distinctive character traits is ingratitude. One would think that a person who was born and raised in a middle class society would be a little more grateful for the things in life. However, that is not the case with Mathilde. How stunning she looks and how impressed others are remains utmost to her, and she is happy as long as she gets what she wants. She is also clearly oblivious to her husbands feelings. Without even a care for the lengths he might have gone to in order to get an invitation to the society ball, “she threw the invitation on the table with disdain, murmuring: What do you want me to do with that?” (452, Maupassant, “The Necklace”). Her lack of gratitude is also made clear as she wanders around her home whining and complaining about her life:
She suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries. She suffered from poverty of her dwelling, from the wretched look of the walls, from the worn out chairs, from the ugliness of the curtains.