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There is a great deal in keeping and evoking good and rational values. This is the chief lesson of that famous short story titled ‘The Necklace’ written by Guy de Maupassant (1) in the late Eighteenth Century. This short story tells about the proud-turned-tragic life of Madame Mathilde Loisel who dreams of an aristocratic status in life so that she would be able to experience the patrician lifestyle of some of her Parisian female friends.
The life of Madame Mathilde Loisel shares a moral story that one has to have the right and proper moral values in order not to be blinded by empty materialism and pompous luxurious lifestyle.
This means that there are more valuable intangible things in life that cannot be acquired by money; they can only be obtained by having rational insights and principles in life. These precious things are our human values.
Human values cannot be measured by any material or monetary estimation, nor can they be taken away so easily like any commodities in the market.
This means that if one possessed the right and rational values, he/she cannot be deceived by any fine and worldly things. But this does not mean that one has to denounce materialism totally. The Necklace (Maupassant 5) centers on the covetous life of Madame Mathilde Loisel who is not satisfied with her middleclass position in life.
Her secret sorrow is her not having all the material lavishness she desires around her. She hates the impoverished people who worked their bodies like animal just to eat three times a day.
Most of the time, she spends the day thinking herself as a wealthy chatelaine who basks in the praises and admiration of people around her. She wants to be the center of attraction, and the only way to achieve this is to have expensive and luxurious garments and jewelry. Madame Mathilde Loisel’s husband, Monsieur, cannot satisfy her desire in life since the latter’s salary as a clerk in the Ministry of Public Instruction is not enough to even buy her an expensive evening dress for a ballroom party.
The night that changed her life forever comes when her husband receives an invitation to an official social gathering at the Ministry. Stricken by her desire to be the center of attraction at the said party, Madame Loisel is troubled because she has no appropriate elegant outfit and ornaments for the party. Luckily, her husband buys her a new dress taken from his own savings, while she borrows a stunning diamond necklace from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier.
That night, Madame Loisel catches the attention of all the guests and even high-ranking officials because of her beauty. She enjoys the fleeting moment as the center of attraction at the dance party. However, her tragedy begins upon realizing that her diamond necklace is missing. They try to look for the missing necklace but to no avail. Because of her lingering pride, the Loisel couple decides to purchase a matching diamond necklace as replacement for the lost necklace of her friend. The new diamond necklace that worth thirty-four thousand francs costs Madame Loisel her entire inheritance and the couple also incur huge debts. As a result, Monsieur and Madame Loisel have to work extra jobs in order to make both ends meet.
After ten years, Madame Loisel is now older, shabbier, and less refined from a decade of physical work. Still proud and appearing tough, Madame Loisel still has the audacity to her old associates that she had once lost a diamond necklace. In the end, she is deeply depressed when she is informed by Madame Forestier that the long lost necklace is just a replication costing not more than five hundred francs.
Had it not been for her covetousness and immodest desire for finer things, Madame Loisel would not have suffered her sorry fate. Her story is never new to people during her time, much more to people in this contemporary era. Today most people live beyond their means just to please others, or just to show others that they can afford to buy trendy stuff and hi-tech gadgets like cell phones and gaming gizmos.
This only means that one has to have the rational and proper values so as not to be blinded by things of material value. These values may include industry, patience, humility, discipline, contentment, respect for others, and sense of self. People like Madame Loisel lack most of these good, rational qualities.
If Madame Loisel only had the right values, she would have been content of what she has. But make no mistake, it is not wrong to desire for material things as long as you have the capacity to obtain them. To a person with proper values, he/she will have to work first before coveting for material objects around him/her. One has to be patient in his/her work. If one wants a particular product displayed in a fashion boutique, he/she has to work hard for it. Having the right values, a person cannot be easily swayed by the tempting material luxuries around him— what he will do is to take it as an inspiration to improve his status in life.
De Maupassant, Guy. The Necklace. Dramatic Publishing,
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