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Envy can get us into all sorts of trouble. Envy is wanting something that someone else has for ourselves. In the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, the main protagonist in the story is envious of others social class. Mathilde Loisel had beauty but lacked riches that she desired very much. In the opening paragraphs; de Maupassant paints a picture of a beautiful woman who desires to have valuable things in her home, a woman that is very unhappy being lower class. Madame Loisel’s desire to seen in the view of others as a socialite is ultimately her downfall. Madame Loisel has a friend that she refuses to see because of the jealousy that she holds.
Madame Loisel receives an invitation to a party filled with rich women, at first she is unhappy since she has no nice dresses to wear. Her husband agrees to give her four hundred francs so that she may purchase a dress for herself. After purchasing a dress Madame Loisel still remains unhappy since she has no jewelry to wear that would make her feel that she belonged in the upper class. She then visits her friend who lets her borrow a necklace that Madame Loisel thinks is extremely expensive. After the party she and her husband return home she to find that she has lost the necklace; they both search for it but are unable to find it. Instead of telling her friend about losing the necklace, they decide to replace it, which causes them great debt. After many years of working to pay of the expensive necklace she happens upon her friend who then tells her that the original one that she had borrowed was made with imitation jewels. The story regales in that had Madame Loisel not been unhappy with what she did have and make do with what she could, she would have never lost the borrowed necklace and been forced to replace it in the first place.
Mathilda was unhappy in her life; she believed that she should be amongst the upper class. This was her dream, to live in lavish houses, wear expensive clothes, and marry a wealthy man. We see this in the opening of the story in his description of Mathilda. Because she did not come from a wealthy family, she had settled on marrying a clerk. Mathilda led a modest life even though she was not among the upper class. She had an apartment with modest things and even had a maidservant to do the chores for her. Upon looking at the things that Mathilda had prior to the incident with the necklace we can deduce that she lived well even though it was not up to her high expectations.
Trouble for the Loisel’s begin upon recent of the invitation to the party being given by the Ministry of Education. When Mathilda receives this invite, she is not happy that she gets to attend, instead she is upset by the fact that she has no nice dress to wear. We see here that Mathilda is a very materialistic person. This selfishness causes her to, at her husband’s urging, borrow a necklace from her rich friend that she believes is expensive. Her husband even gives her the money that he has been saving to buy a new gun and go on a hunting trip just to please her. Mr. Loisel does not help matters in doing this; it only allows Mathilda to become more self-absorbed in her looks. He does try in the beginning to get her to wear a dress that she already had but this does not suit Mathilda and he ends up giving into to her selfishness. When she ends up losing the necklace both of them decide to be deceptive instead of coming clean and admitting to what has happened. Because of this they go into great debt and Mathilda loses everything they had even her beauty.
After the party the couple takes a cab back home, Mathilda realizes upon getting back home that she has lost the necklace. When Mr. Loisel asks if she still had it on while at the party Mathilda replied, “Yes. I touched it in the hall at the Ministry.” This is another display of her being materialistic in that she is still even when no one is there to see her, she is still concerned about her appearances. They begin searching for the necklace in every place that they can think it could be. They spent an entire week looking for the necklace and Mathilda even wrote a letter in which she lied about having the necklace repaired due to a broken clasp. The necklace was never found; at this point, I believe that most of us would tell the owner of what had happened that despite searching it was lost. They could offer to replace it and that it was an unfortunate accident and then they would have found out the necklace was not made of real jewels. The Loisel’s instead choose to conceal this and replace it with a real necklace that they pay thirty-six thousand francs. After purchasing the replacement and upon returning it to Madame Forestier she is relieved that she does not open the case, inspect the necklace, and found that it is indeed a different one. The irony in this is that if she had opened the case, she may have found the real necklace and the Loisel’s could have not gotten themselves into such debt.
In conclusion, we can see that because of Mathilda’s materialistic and selfish nature she just has to be seen as upper class, even if it is only for one night. Because of these less than desirable qualities and her insistence on looking the part of being from wealth, she loses the necklace and causes them ten years of hard times. However, Mathilda cannot be the only one held to blame; her husband gives into her and the fact that she has such materialistic tastes. A question that remains to be answered is, what would she have thought of the “expensive” necklace had she known the true value in the beginning? Would the fake necklace have brought as much joy while wearing it to the party? I believe that in looking into Mathilda’s personality that we can deduce that had she known that the necklace was a fake she would have never chosen that one to begin with. In choosing a less expensive one she and her husband may have not incurred the huge debt in trying to replace the fake one. A real one may have never broken and been lost. Mathilda’s want for being seen as upper class and elegant caused her to believe that the necklace was real and probably the most expensive of her friends’ jewelry collection. These unrealistic virtues that Mathilda placed on herself and her husband caused them to give up what they did have. Mathilda, by not being truthful with her friend, caused great heartache for herself and her husband in repaying the debt for the necklace. The twist of irony in this story by which Mathilda finds out that the lost necklace was fake shows that if she had only been happy with what she had they would have never lost everything and became poorer than before.
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