“The Necklace” takes place in Paris during the late 19th century, a period of time known as La Belle Époque (the “beautiful era”). This period fell between 1871 and the beginning of the First World War (1914), a period of peace and economic prosperity in Europe in which Paris became the cultural, technological, and economic capital of the region. The nation was greatly enriched by the Industrial Revolution, which also exacerbated existing class divisions and inequality.
This culture framed the setting of “The Necklace”, in which Mathilde feels immense jealousy of the wealthy and yearns for a life filled with extravagance, jewels, dresses, and material and financial excess. She is a young and beautiful woman at the onset of the story, but her youth and charm quickly escape her as she focuses on material possessions.
The setting of “The Necklace” starts off the Loisel’s small apartment on Martyrs Street. This is where Mathilde day dreams about what life could be. She spends most of her days complaining about how “drab” her apartment is. She describes how the furniture is “threadbare” and how “ugly” her curtains are just some of what she complains about.
Mathilde is invited to attend the Minster of Education’s party, which will be filled with many fancy and rich people, and in order to fit in she uses up her husband’s savings to find a dress and borrows a necklace from her rich friend. The necklace appears to be nice and full of diamonds but it’s just as fake as the daydreams Mathilde has of being a high-class citizen. She isn’t aware of this and end up losing the necklace and is forced to find the money to buy a replacement. She soon is forced to move to an attic flat where she is working hard to pay for the necklace. This change of setting humbled Mathilde. There is no more complaining about how miserable her life was, the daydreaming of a luxurious life stopped, and she knew the definition of hard work.
The last setting of “The Necklace” takes place on the streets of the Champs-Elysees, she runs into her rich friend and finally has the courage to talk to her. Mathilde has come to terms with her life after the necklace and confronts her friend about the whole situation.
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