The Value of Possessions Examined in Guy de Maupassant’s Short Story, “The Necklace”
The late Irish poet Oscar Wilde once stated, “In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it” (qtd. in The Quotations Page). This quote accurately describes human nature to the extent that man is never fully satisfied with his current possessions. In fact, most people who rely on materialistic items for happiness are typically desolated and miserable. Guy de Maupassant enlivens these assertions in his short story, “The Necklace.” Maupassant reveals his ingenious style through a portrayal of a battle with morality, in which the central character, Mathilde Loisel, struggles with excessive wants that ultimately doom her to perpetual despair.
In the beginning of “The Necklace,” the reader can clearly distinguish Madame Loisel’s immense need for luxurious items. Maupassant describes Madame Loisel as somewhat miserable due to her ordinary standard of living: “She was simple since she could not be adorned; but she was unhappy as though kept out of her own class…She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury” (Par. 3). Madame Loisel complains about her husband and his common profession, feeling as though she should be “married by a man rich and distinguished” (Par. 1). She knows that her husband can not provide the luxuries which she so desperately desires. These lingering feelings cause Madame Loisel to undervalue the nonmaterial importance of life.
All the while, the reader must consider the significant aspect of Madame Loisel’s misleading view about her social class. Although Madame Loisel feels unfit and tortured to be of her econom…
…han before, she and her husband own nothing at all. At this point of the story, the reader assumes that Madame Loisel has suffered intensely enough to understand the underlying value of materialistic items.
Unfortunately, Madame Loisel does not take the suffering as a learning experience. Even still, she continues to daydream of owning luxury items, accepting admiration from the higher class, and living the life of a dream. Consequently, Madame Loisel will also continue to live in misery due to her endless dissatisfaction. Perhaps, one may assert that Madame Loisel is the type of person that will never quite be satisfied enough, no matter how much or how little she may have.
Wilde, Oscar. “Cole’s Quotables.” 2004. The Quotations Page. Ed. M. Shawn Cole and Michael Moncur. 05 March 2006.
de Maupaussant, Guy. “The Necklace.”