Symbolism in The Necklace by Guy De Maupassant sample essay
A woman’s role in today’s society is one where she can better herself through her career and who and whether she marries is her choice. In the Victorian world of Guy De Maupassant while writing The Necklace in the year nineteen eighty-five, the world is different. One of the most powerful women in the world is a woman, but while she rules the British Empire, women are stifled beyond their control. In the story Mathilde Loisel, the protagonist is doomed by her sex and her status during this time when she can do nothing about the situation. It is this situation that Maupassant uses symbolism to create a narrative that will inform the world for generations of how the role of women needs to be changed.
Mathilde Loisel is symbolic of the middle class woman married to a working husband during the Victorian Era. She is never going to rise above the life that she is trapped. It is frowned upon when a woman had to work during this time period. She was to marry young, since her life span was short due to the lack of medical technology and birth control. Therefore, it is important to start early in life. Simply put, a middle class woman is to take care of her house and family. So what happens to a woman who is not satisfied to live, marry, give birth, and die with few possessions? She is doomed to accept the hand that fate has handed her, and that woman is represented by Mathilde Loisel because she feels as though she were born into a class that she will never escape while she desires for riches that she will never have.
She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. (Maupassant)
The marriage of Mathilde and her husband who is a clerk to the Minister of Education, is symbolic of many of the marriages during the late nineteenth century. Women who have no dowry or connections possess the destiny to marry a man of the same class in which she was born.
She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land. (Maupassant)
Mathilde has no hope of rising above her situation in life just as the women who she is a symbol. Her society chooses her husband instead of her own decision while love and a trusting relationship has nothing to do with the choice. She embodies these women who have no voice because of lack of education, rules of society, and the lack of a right to vote.
The most obvious symbol in the story The Necklace is the actual necklace. Mathilde is invited to attende an event with her husband hosted by the Minister of Education and his wife. This prompts a trip to a wealthy school friend to borrow jewelry. Mathilde is not satisfied with just any jewelry. Instead she must have the best that her friend has to offer.
Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetously. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon her high dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself. (Maupassant)
This diamond necklace is symbolic of the glittering things in life that money can buy. These possession is what Mathilde and people from all time periods are convinced will make them happy in life. However, this necklace destroys her life. It is lost and Mathilde spends the next ten years working to pay back her friend without telling her of the loss.
Just like the false hope that people are still causing people to destroy their lives with credit card debt, high mortgages, and automobiles that cost as much as a small house. Ruined marriages, relationships, and stress are as much a result of destructive materialism as the necklace is to Mathilde. In the end, it turns out that the necklace was actually made of paste and was practically worthless. Her life turns out to be a waste because she is to focus solely to pay for an item that has no value
The symbolism in The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant is relevant today just as in eighteen eighty-five. Women still find themselves snared into lives and marriages where they are miserable and they still chase the glittering things that are worthless in the end. The lesson to be learned through this story is timeless.
Mauppassant, Guy de. “The Necklace.” 1885. Short Stories. September 10, 2008
Symbolism in the Necklace. University of North Carolina. September 10, 2008
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