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The setting for Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” take place during the 1800s when men played the dominant role over women. In both stories the protagonists are each yearning for a better life and each struggle to find it in a slightly different way.
Kate Chopin and Guy de Maupassant both use imagery and symbolism at its best. In describing Mrs. Mallard’s reaction to her husband’s death, “The tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life…The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.” Immediately the symbol of a sparrow twittering gives you the impression of rebirth. The trees were all aquiver with new spring life symbolizes a new beginning. A fresh start.
In “The Necklace” Guy de Maupassant uses the following imagery and symbol, “She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.” Again, here you get the impression of a drab unhappy home with all the material things tattered and worn as a symbol of possessions that are old, aging and dreary. Obviously, these are not the things that would make her happy and provide the feeling of being young and vibrant. Although the Loisel’s are not in the lowest economic class Madam Loisel dreams of being rich. Guy de Maupassant also uses lists. This is to highlight the fact that she feels like she can name so many things wrong with her life and so many things she wants.
Both stories use irony to make a point. In “The Necklace” Madame Loisel is invited to a prestigious ball and borrows a necklace which she thought was very expensive and lost it. Madame Loisel and her husband knew that they had to replace the necklace and saved for 10 years. Madam Loisel bumps into Madame Forrestier and is told that the necklace which she thought was diamonds were fake. In “The Story of an Hour” when Mrs. Mallard’s husband appears at the doorstep very much alive and Mrs. Mallard sees him, she is the one who collapses and dies from the shock of his being alive “She had died of heart-disease of joy that kills”. Both writers send the message that all the suffering could have been avoided had they been satisfied with what they already had instead of chasing rainbows.
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