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Guy De Maupassant’s story “The Diamond Necklace”

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Guy De Maupassant’s story “The Diamond Necklace” tells us a story about a poor girl who has wrong values in her life. She loves money, jewels, but not people. Throughout the story the main heroine Matilda Loisel makes a number of ironic discoveries. One night she goes to the ball and, pretending that she is someone she is not, she borrows a diamond necklace from her friend. She loses it at the end of the night and borrows money to buy a new one. It costs her 10 years of hard work, life in poverty, and more importantly youth and beauty to pay for one night of triumph, and at the end to find out that the necklace wasn’t even real. Matilda is as fake as the necklace she borrowed from her friend, and she gets punished for that.

Only after reading the story till the end we understand the importance of the title in this story. Looking at it for the first time a reader might think that this is a story about somebody rich, who can afford such an expensive jewel as diamond necklace. But this is not the case. The main character Matilda Loisel is poor and so is her husband, and “she had neither frocks nor jewels, nothing.”(298) The irony of the title is that there is only one truly diamond necklace in the story, the one Mr. and Mrs. Loisel bought to replace Mme. Forestier’s false necklace, the one that completely changed their lives. A reader may ask why couldn’t Matilda tell her friend the truth? What was she so afraid of?

Perhaps, she thought that Mme. Forestier would tell everybody that the necklace that Matilda wore that night didn’t belong to her and that she’s from the lower class. But that ball meant so much to Mrs. Loisel, for one night she felt like she was where she belongs. As Matilda lost her hope to find her friend’s necklace, she has realized how much that one night will cost her; but she was willing to pay that price just to keep the memories of her glory. She was the center of attention and that’s all that mattered to her. “She danced with enthusiasm, with passion, intoxicated with pleasure, thinking of nothing, in the The title of the Maupassant’s story refers to the real diamond necklace whereas the symbol is the necklace that Matilda borrowed and that turned out to be false.

The choice that Matilda makes on the day of the ball when out of all the jewels that Mrs. Forestier showed her, she picked the false diamond necklace, symbolically tells us of the goals in life of this young lady. It also represents her and everybody’s at the ball inability to tell the difference between true and false. She’s the opposite of the Thurber’s “moth” – her goal doesn’t come from the heart but from French society of seventeenth century. She was “born, as if through an error of destiny, into a family of clerks”(297). At the ball Matilda was enjoying attention of all the men, although deep inside she new that it was not real her they liked. That “elegant, gracious, smiling, and full of joy” lady was just an illusion (300). And what else is ironical, if Matilda knew that the necklace was false she could’ve bought it for herself but she, most likely, wouldn’t feel so happy and confident at the ball because she wasn’t only trying to fool the audience she was also fooling herself. It is very symbolic how her husband and she leave the ball in the “old, noctural coupes that one sees in Paris after nightfall, as if they were ashamed of their misery by day.”(300) Matilda is ashamed of herself too when she needs to wear her modest wraps and nor the rich furs and tries to escape so that nobody sees her.

Mme. Loisel is a person who is not in harmony with her world. She doesn’t understand that happiness comes from within and not from the things you can buy although they can give one an illusion of it. She is young and pretty, and has a loving husband, but she is unhappy. “She suffered incessantly, feeling herself born for all delicacies and luxuries. She suffered from the poverty of her apartment, the shabby walls, the worn chairs, and the faded stuffs. All this things, which another woman of her station would not have noticed, tortured and angered her.”(297) She took away happiness both from herself and her husband. “She had such a desire to please, to be sought after” and to be envied, that she didn’t take in consideration her husband’s feelings at all (298). And if we take a look at his actions throughout the story, we can see that Mr. Loisel is doing everything for her and never asks for anything in return.

He’s gotten Matilda an invitation to the Commissioner’s ball but “instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she threw the invitation spitefully upon the table”, he gave her his savings, so she can buy herself a dress and in the end, of course, he was working even harder then she was to get out of debt Matilda has got them into (298). Matilda’s problem is that she cannot accept her destiny, she refuses to live the life of a woman of her class and by that she gets herself into trouble. In comparison to her life towards the end of a story, the life she was living before the ball was pretty decent, she used to have a maid but now she has to do all the work and go shopping for groceries. Besides being obsessed with money and status, Matilda is also untruthful. First she fools everybody at the ball acting like a woman of the same class as everybody there. Than she doesn’t admit to her friend that she has lost her necklace.

How different her life would be if she told her friend that she lost the necklace? Would she have to wash the dishes, “using her rosy nails upon the greasy pots and the bottoms of the stewpans “(302), clothe like “a woman of the people”(302), and worry about renewing notes every month in order to obtain some time? Probably not. The interesting thing is that even at the end of the story Matilda doesn’t learn her lesson and doesn’t change. When she meets her friend Mrs. Foristier she tells her, “Yes, I have had some hard days since I saw you; and some miserable ones – and all because of you-.”(303) She blames Mrs. Foristier for her own misfortunes. She cannot admit that it was her own mistake she made when she was younger.

“The Diamond Necklace” story is about true and false values in a life of a person, we can trace sort of a crime-and-punishment on a moral level. I think that the writer was trying to bring his message to people, that is false goals don’t make anybody happy. Actually, it’s not a bad thing to wish more than you already have but Matilda chose the wrong approach. She didn’t do anything in order to be rich, she didn’t want to work, she’s got married to a ” petty clerk”(297) The author brilliantly finished “The Diamond Necklace” by leaving it to the reader to decide whether all the hard work the heroine and her husband went through to pay off the necklace they bought will be rewarded or not. This story somehow reminded me of the story of Cinderella. She never complained about her life like Matilda did and her heart and mind were pure and her hard work and good intentions were rewarded. She ended in harmony. We don’t know if Mrs. Forestier will give the necklace back to Matilda and her husband, but even if she does, will Matilda be happy, now when she lost her beauty and health?

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