The middle class (people), for centuries, have aspired to become rich and prosperous. They want all luxuries and riches one can possibly get. ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant throws ample light on the never-ending aspirations of the middle class. With limited resources at their disposal, the middle class in the urbanized areas have been harbouring hopes to get rich and affluent in a short span of time. No matter how much one might end up earning, he or she is always looking to aim or a better lifestyle with each passing minute.
The story begins in Paris, where Mathilde Loisel lives with her husband. She is beautiful, but always nurtures this belief that she has been born into a family that is not well-to-do. Her lifestyle is not poor but modest, but she wishes to own all the luxuries and riches. Most of her time is spent thinking about extravagant and lavish things such as fancy meals served on china dishes, dresses, money, etc.
One day, her husband comes home with an invitation to a party. Instead of being thrilled, Mathilde begins to cry. On being asked by her husband the reason behind her tears, she tells him that she has nothing to wear. Her husband seems quite upset by her reaction and asks her the cost of a suitable dress. She says that 400 francs would be sufficient for her to buy a new dress. Interestingly, her husband had saved the exact amount to buy himself a hunting rifle.
The problem doesn’t end here. She feels dissatisfied as she does not have any jewels to wear along with the new dress which has been bought by her. No her husband’s suggestion, she visits one of her friends named Mrs. Forestier in order to borrow some jewels from her. Mrs. Forestier lends her a beautiful necklace. At the party, Mathilde is the most beautiful woman in attendance. Everything goes well until she and her husband reach home. Once home, she realizes that she has lost Mrs. Forestier’s necklace. What follows it is utter commotion and pandemonium. Mathilde and her husband struggle to make the ends meet in order to buy a new necklace. They end up losing all their savings in the process. After years of labour and financial misery, they are finally able to repay the debt. While taking a walk in a park, Mathilde meets Madame Forestier, who makes a shocking revelation towards.
“The Necklace” by de Maupassant clearly brings to light the never-ending aspirations of the working middle class. Despite having a reasonably good lifestyle, Mathilde desires to own the riches and luxuries of the world. She wants a new dress and some jewelry for the ball, as fancy clothes and jewelry are two of the most important status symbols for ladies. She is shown lacking a sense of fulfillment and contentment. The story also throws ample light on her over-ambitious nature. The desire to get her hands on luxuries makes her lose all of her possessions such as house, money, savings, etc. More than anything else, she loses her peace of mind after misplacing Mrs. Forestier’s necklace. It certainly won’t be wrong to say that the concept of ‘beauty’ has been objectified over here.
Furthermore, the story makes us realize the importance of being satisfied and fulfilled with what we have. Being ambitious is fine, but being over-ambitious, for often than not, leads to emotional turmoil and ends up robbing us of the pleasures little things bring in our lives. At times, we are too busy accumulating wealth that we forget to admire the things we already have. All of this takes us nowhere, absolutely nowhere.
Human Emotions Portrayed:
Ornamenting the story is a multitude of emotions and feelings, right from ambitiousness to the never-ending wants, to a hunger for money. Mathilde wants to have a luxurious lifestyle, but fails to understand that everything in this world has a price. Her want to own expensive stuff robs her of all her possessions. As the story moves on, we get to experience tension, fear, pandemonium, and grief. After losing the necklace, Mathilde and her husband spend sleepless nights trying to find the necklace. The Necklace symbolizes irony of the highest order, on one end, it gives Mathilde Loisel the best night of her life at the ball, on the other hand, it robs her of all her savings and emotional peace.
Guy de Maupassant does absolute justice to this piece of prose. He beautifully brings to light the dreams and aspirations of the urban middle classes. The fact that the middle classes hate being middle-class has also been portrayed well within the story. Mathilde finds it hard to accept her simple lifestyle. She dreams of riches and luxuries all the time. The story has deliberately been set in Paris, the city of lights. Setting the entire story in Paris also adds a flavour of glamour and fashion into the story. During the course of the story, not even once does the reader harbour a sense of sympathy for Mrs. Loisel. She is shown to be paying the price for being too over-ambitious. Furthermore, the ending of the story comes as a thunderclap, as the necklace Mrs. Loisel had lost was of no value. The necklace was worth nothing, but it took Mathilde and her husband many years to repay the debt they never actually owed.
All in all, ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant is a comment on the never-ending wants of the middle class. It follows a simplistic approach. This very simplistic approach is what adds immensely to the story’s beauty and makes it worth reading.
Rating: *** 1/2 /5