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Pretense of Living in The Necklace

The Necklace is an 1884 short story written by French writer, Guy de Maupassant. This story tells about a woman named Madame Mathilde Loisel who was born into a lower-middle-class family but always fantasizes about the wealthy life. As we know that Mme. Mathilde and her husband get an invitation to the Ministry of Education party, Mme. Mathilde feels upset rather than excited because she knows that she has nothing to wear to attend that party. They both make every effort to look like the upper class family because Madame Mathilde does not want to look poor in the middle of rich women.

Mme. Mathilde feels herself born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries of life. From these words, we know that she had a dream. She wants to become rich and impress the society. Her desire causes her and M. Loisel to make terrible decisions.

First, M. Loisel sacrificed his four hundred francs which he had saved for hunting trip just to buy a dress that would only be worn in one night.

Not end there, after Mme. Mathilde gets the dress, she still unhappy and feels not enough yet. She wants jewelry to complete her look. Her husband suggests her to buy flowers to wear with the dress, but Mme. Mathilde refuses. Her refusal to wear natural flowers shows that one of her worst fears is to appear poor.Madame Mathilde knows that she could not afford to buy jewelry but she does not limit herself and does not want to accept her situation.

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She forced her husband to follow her wishes by showing her sadness and displeasure. Finally M. Loisel suggests her to borrow something from her old friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Madame Mathilde borrows Madame Forestier’s fanciest piece of jewelry, the diamond necklace.

At the ball, Madame Mathilde has a fabulous time, because she was prettier than all the other women. She made all the men stared at her and noticed her. She was a success to look like the upper class woman. But this glory and all the happiness vanished as soon as she realized that she no longer had the necklace around her neck. Her husband tries to look on the streets but he got nothing. To stall for time, Madame Mathilde writes to Madame Forestier that she broke the clasp and is being repaired. She chose to lie instead of telling Madame Forestier the truth, just because she is worrying that Madame Forestier would have taken Madame Mathilde for a thief which is not even sure.

In the meantime, they find another necklace that looks exactly like the missing one, but it costs thirty-six thousand francs. Again, her husband sacrificed his eighteen thousand francs from his father’s inheritance and they borrow the rest of the money. They have debts everywhere. Finally, they have enough to purchase the replacement necklace and gives it to Madame Forestier who does not even look at it.Life after that is really exhausting. Their life changes dramatically. They dismissed their maid; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof. Both Mme. Mathilde and M. Loisel had to work hard every day just to pay their dreadful debts. They move to a smaller apartment where she has to cook and clean for herself. She also does work on the side while her husband works multiple jobs to pay back all the money they had borrowed. After ten years, they had paid off everything. Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become strong, hard and rough like all women of impoverished households. With hair half combed, with skirts awry, and reddened hands. But Madame Mathilde has aged a great deal.One Sunday, as she was walking in the Champs to refresh herself after the week’s work, she saw Madame Jeanne Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still charming.

She decides to tell her the truth about the necklace. At this point, Mme. Mathilde feels safe because she had paid all her debts. Madame Forestier is stunned by Mme. Mathilde’s rough appearance. Mathilde explains that it is because of Mme. Forestier since she lost the necklace she borrowed from her and had to pay for a replacement. Shocked, Mme. Forestier confesses that the necklace Mathilde borrowed was a fake, made of paste, and worth no more than five hundred francs.The story demonstrates the value of honesty; if Mathilde had been honest to Madame Forestier, Mme. Forestier would have been able to tell her that the necklace was fake. And she’d likely have been able to easily replace the necklace and enjoy the prosperity she wanted but never had. Madame Mathilde commits herself to ten years of drudgery because she chooses to suffer unnecessarily for vanity’s sake. She makes the choices she does because her pride will not allow her to do otherwise. She prefers to live in pretense from the very beginning. She does not want to show her real life.

Madame Mathilde is beautiful on the outside, but inside she is discontented with her ordinary, less-than-wealthy lifestyle. This reinforces the idea that wealth means happiness. Mathilde is gripped by a greed that contrasts with her husband’s kind generosity. She believes that material wealth will bring her joy.This story is an irony of the pretense of living. Ten years of Madame Mathilde’s life have been robbed, only for an evening of vanity and pride. Madame Mathilde ultimate downfall is caused by her pride and her desire. Her pride prevents her from admitting that she is not rich, and that she has lost the necklace she had borrowed. It causes her to be unhappy in life. It makes her take a risk. It does not allow her to take appropriate action in correcting her mistake. And it refuses to let her see her own foolishness. Madame Mathilde blames her problem on Madame Forestier, but she can’t really blame anyone except herself.Not only Madame Mathilde, but Madame Forestier also live in pretense.

This story shows the readers that even the upper class family does not necessarily has original luxury items. Madame Forestier gives an example that she is willing to buy fake items only to look wealthy. She does not care about the value of the jewelry as long as she looks from the upper class family. They both follow their desires and did not think that it could give bad results for themselves.If Madame Mathilde satisfied and thankful for everything that she has and not be blinded by her fantasies she would not suffer like the way she does. It is important to be honest in life and not impose what we can not do or get. It is better to accept the reality and give the best of us than to live in fantasies and get temporary happiness that even makes us pay for the rest of our lives like Madame Mathilde. Desires need to be controlled. If you don’t, it might end up ruining your entire life.

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Pretense of Living in The Necklace. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

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