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Critical Analysis of The Necklace Short Story

Critical Analysis of "The Necklace" Short Story

The short story, The Necklace, by Guy De Maupassant, follows the life of a woman and her husband living in France in the early 1880’s. The woman, Mathilde, is a very materialistic person who is never content with anything in her life. Her husband, a lowly clerk in the Ministry of Education, is not a rich man, but he brings home enough to get by. He enjoys the simpler things in life, yet his wife, Mathilde, cannot. Nothing is good enough for her. Her selfish ways are evident in her attitude toward the material things in her home environment and in the way she treats her husband.

Mathilde’s materialistic attitude is primarily shown by how unhappy she is with her surroundings and her home environment in general. One night, Matilde’s husband brings home, from work, an invitation to a dinner party. When he mentions the invitation, Mathilde’s first thought is of what she is going to wear to the party. She does not worry about her husband, his feelings regarding the invitation, or how much fun they may have at the dinner party. She only worries about how she will look and what other people will think of her. Mathilde is unhappy with her darkened rooms and furniture and desires better things:

She imagined large drawing rooms draped in the most expensive silks, with fine end tables on which were placed knickknacks of inimitable value. She dreamed of the perfume of dainty private rooms, which were designed only for intimate tête-à-têtes with the closest friends, who because of their achievements and fame would make her the envy of all other women. (4)

These dreams and aspirations demonstrate that Mathilde’s thoughts are in the wrong place; and go to show how materialistic she really is. Mathilde first rejects the invitation. She only agrees to go to the party after her husband painstakingly bargains with her, and ends up having to buy her a new dress to get her to come. Even after getting a new dress, Mathilde still wants more. She complains to her husband that she, “[doesn’t] have any jewels to wear, not a single gem, nothing to dress up [her] outfit.” (6) She whines to her husband that she would rather stay home than go to the party looking like a vagabond. But finally, after more griping, she is persuaded by her husband to...

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