Remember reading Guy de Maupassant’s The Necklace back in high school or college? How did the story make you feel?
I know originally, I loathed the wife, Mathilde. What a brat she was! She had someone to help her clean, for crying out loud! For me to get help in my house, I have to raise hell, pitch a bitch, and go bat caca cray-cray to get my kids to pick up their things.
Reading it as an adult, I had the following thoughts:
have read The Necklace multiple times over the last few years, and I originally disliked, passionately disliked, Mathilde. I always thought she was a selfish, vain woman who thought only of herself. However, reading it as a much older adult, my views of Mathilde is pity. She seems like some of my Facebook and Twitter friends. Despite the things she “does” possess, she only thinks about what she doesn’t have. It is difficult to dislike any woman who feels like she doesn’t have a choice in her destiny. Mathilde never seemed to think she had options, and let life happen to her, like this line stated: “She had no dowry, no expectations, no way of being known, understood, loved, married by any rich and distinguished man; so she let herself be married to a little clerk of the Ministry of Public.” She still didn’t have a say over her life as she toiled away to replace a necklace. It’s really difficult to dislike someone who doesn’t see her own value and who doesn’t know how to state her needs without trickery and deceit.
Although the reader is treated to some of the thoughts from Monsieur Loisel, such as when he balked at the amount of money needed to purchase a dress for the party and lamented the amount of sleep he would need after the party, The Necklace is written from The Third Person Limited. This story is clearly that of Mathilde. The necklace is written from Third Person Limited.
From Monsieur Loisel’s POV, I think the reader would have been treated to the thoughts of a long-suffering man who had no idea what his wife wanted or how to satisfy her, The reader could have read his internal resentment against a woman who never appreciated the things he was able to provide for her, and also had the story been written from his point of view, the reader may have read his resentment against an unsatisfied and unhappy wife, or seen his suffering at the silly whims for a woman he also felt he had to settle for. When he took action and gave a directive about the lie to be told to Madame Forestier, if the story had been from his point a view, the reader may have seen his shining moment, an opportunity where he is finally able to step into his place as a man of action. I also suspect that the reader would have had an inside view of a dalliance or two he engaged in knowing he had to return home nightly to such an unhappy woman.
I know that the story is supposed to be one of regret and lost chances, but I like and appreciate the brutal honesty and rawness of the story. Again, this is only after reading this with a mature eye. In life, there are rare moments with an eleventh hour save. If Mathilde was honest with her friend, instead of relying on deceit, she would have saved herself ten years of pain and misery. Pride and vanity prevented Mathilde from breaking a limited mindset. Reality can be limiting like Mathilde made it, or free like Madame Forestier lived.
Click here to read the story, then leave your thoughts about The necklace.