Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” tells about the fate of a middle class
woman in France. Mathilde, a woman of a certain beauty lives an ordinary life
with a maid servant and her husband who works as a clerk. Although the couple
does not have to suffer and enjoys a secure life, Mathilde is not satisfied.
She longs for more luxury, lovely dresses and attractiveness.
One day her
husband, well aware of his wife’s desires, comes home with an invitation from the
Minister of Education. He expects Mathilde to be pleased because the high society of the town is most
likely to be present. Mathilde is far from happy, because she feels that none of
her dresses are appropriate for such an occasion. Her husband, although he had
planned to buy a gun for his weekend hunting, offers to spend their saved money on a new dress.
The date of the invitation comes closer but even with the new dress at hand
Mathilde is not satisfied. She has no jewelry and refuses to go to the banquet. Her husband
suggests she should visit her old schoolmate whom Mathilde had not visited for
a while, out of jealousy. Madame Forestier, delighted by the visit, offers to
lend Mathilde the necklace she likes best and after some hesitation Mathilde
picks the most expensive looking diamond necklace.
evening comes and Mathilde is delighted. She feels admired and enjoys every moment of her appearance. At the end of the
party she and her husband leave to catch one of the night carriages. At home,
taking a last look at her beauty in the mirror, Mathilde discovers that the
borrowed necklace has disappeared.
Monsieur Loisel walks back to all the places
they had been that night but cannot find it. The next day they try to gain some
time, telling Madame Forestier that they had brought the necklace to a jeweler
to get the clasp fixed, but this lie does not help either. Not even the jeweler
who had made the necklace is to be found. Finally the Loisels decide to buy a
replacement. They get together all their saved money and borrow from everybody
they know. Madame Forestier gets the new necklace and does not realize that it
is a replacement. In order to be able to pay all the loans back Mathilde has to
fire the maid and do all housework by herself. They live through ten years of poverty in a small house.
After these long
years of discomfort Mathilde meets Madame Forestier in the street and decides
to tell her the truth about the necklace and how she had to suffer. At first Madame
Forestier does not even recognize Mathilde whose beauty has faded. She is
surprised when she hears the story and
feels pity for Mathilde as she tells her the original necklace had not even been a
real diamond one, but a simple imitation.