What Is The Tone In The Necklace?

Updated 8 November, 2023
The overall tone of the short story "The Necklace" is pessimistic and ironic. Mathilde lives her comfortable life pointing out all the flaws and ways it could be better (pessimistic tone). She enjoys her one night of luxury, but then has to pay for it, literally. She and her husband spend years paying off debts. She had to sacrifice her comfortable life, for only one night of the life she dreamed of (irony).
Detailed answer:

In a literary piece of work, a tone refers to a literary device that depicts the attitude of the author towards the central idea or the characters in a text. A tone can change or remain the same from the beginning to the end of a narrative.
The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant, follows a story of a mid class couple. The wife, Mathilde Loisel, dreams of a life of luxury. Mathilde borrows a diamond necklace from her friend, but ends up losing it at the party. Ashamed, she and her husband go into debt to buy a necklace to replace her friend's. Years later, after the debt was paid, Mathilde runs into her friend and finds out the necklace was made of paste, and worth next to nothing.
Maupassant uses a serious tone throughout the story. Even during the ball where Mme. Loisel finds herself the happiest, the reader gets the sense that some underlying misfortune is bound to happen. This is especially since the ball is happening nearly exactly how Mme. Loisel day dreamt it. She is the the most beautiful woman there, the center of attention, and dancing with all the men while her husband dozes in another room, allowing her to have what she wants, but we are still very much aware that this woman who has not yet learned about hard work will not have such ecstasy for more than one night.
The reminder of her poverty comes back to Mme. Loisel very soon after the dancing and she is desperate to escape it, quickly fleeing the place, and then later we learn her necklace has gone missing and perhaps it was lost in that moment Mme. Loisel so desperately and carelessly ran out of the room. The contrast of her modest wraps to the rich women’s furs allows Maupassant to weave a tone of forbearance and foreshadowing into the situation, allowing the audience to see that even though Mme. Loisel wishes so very much to escape her modest life for one of richness, she still has much to learn.

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