The Necklace

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"The Necklace"
La Parure - Gil Blas.jpg
La Parure, illustration of the title page of the Gil Blas, 8 October 1893
AuthorGuy de Maupassant
Original title"La Parure"
CountryFrance
Genre(s)Short story
Publication date1884

"The Necklace" or "The Diamond Necklace" (French: La Parure) is an 1884 short story by French writer Guy de Maupassant. It is known for its twist ending (Ironic ending), which was a hallmark of de Maupassant's style. The story was first published on 17 February 1884 in the French newspaper Le Gaulois.[1]

The story has been adapted to film and television several times.

Plot[edit]

Madame Mathilde Loisel has always imagined herself an aristocrat, despite being born into a lower-middle-class family (which she describes as an "accident of fate"). She marries a low-paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy but has little to give. After much effort, he secures for them an invitation to a ball sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

Mathilde refuses to go, for she has nothing to wear and wishes not to be embarrassed. Upset at her displeasure, Loisel gives her 400 francs - all the money he had been saving to buy a hunting rifle for himself - so she can buy a dress. Even after Mathilde does so, she is still unhappy because she has no jewels to wear with it. She spurns Loisel's idea of wearing fresh flowers instead, but takes his suggestion to borrow some jewelry from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. She borrows a diamond necklace as her only ornamentation.

Mathilde enjoys herself at the ball, dancing with influential men and reveling in their admiration. Once she and Loisel return home, though, she discovers that she has lost Jeanne's necklace. Unable to find it or anyone who knows where it might have gone, they resign themselves to buying a replacement. At the Palais-Royal shops, they find a similar necklace priced at 40,000 francs and bargain for it, eventually settling at 36,000. Loisel uses an inheritance from his father to cover half the cost and borrows the rest at high interest. Mathilde gives the necklace to Jeanne without mentioning the loss of the original, and Jeanne does not notice the difference.

Loisel and Mathilde live in poverty for ten years, he taking on night work to earn extra money and she sacrificing her beauty to do household chores on her own. After all the loans are paid off, Mathilde encounters Jeanne in the Champs-Élysées, but Jeanne barely recognizes her due to her shabby clothing and unkempt appearance. Mathilde tells Jeanne about the loss and replacement of the necklace and of the hard times she has endured on Jeanne's account. Jeanne reveals that the necklace she lent to Mathilde had contained fake diamonds and was worth no more than 500 francs.

Themes[edit]

One of the themes within "The Necklace" is the dichotomy of reality versus appearance. Madame Loisel is beautiful on the outside, but inside she is discontented with her less-than-wealthy lifestyle. Mathilde is gripped by a greed that contrasts with her husband's kind generosity. She believes that material wealth will bring her joy, and her pride prevents her from admitting to Madame Forestier that she is not rich, and that she has lost the necklace she borrowed.

Because of her pride and obsession with wealth, Mathilde loses ten years of her life and spends all of her savings on replacing the necklace, only to find out that the original necklace was a fake to begin with—a falsely wealthy appearance, just like Madame Loisel herself.[2]

The story demonstrates the value of honesty; if Mathilde had told the truth to Madame Forestier, she would likely have been able to easily replace the necklace and enjoy the prosperity she wanted but never had.

Adaptations and other influence[edit]

The following are direct adaptations of "The Necklace":

The following works were inspired in part by "The Necklace":

  • "Paste" (1899), a short story by Henry James in which the twist ending is reversed[6]
  • "Mr. Know-All" (1925) and "A String of Beads" (1943), short stories by Somerset Maugham that both revolve around the price of a necklace[7]
  • "The Diamond Pendant" in Impact #1, E.C. Comics, March/April 1955; adaptation by Carl Wessler, illustrated by Graham Ingels[8]
  • Vennila Veedu (2014), a Tamil family drama uses a similar story as its main theme
  • The subplot of the season 4 episode 13 of "Mom" ("A Bouncy Castle and an Aneurysm" OAD: 9 Feb 2017) is a comedic version of the story with Anna Faris' character losing the necklace belonging to her wealthy friend.

In Vladimir Nabokov's novel Ada or Ardor (1969), one of the characters, a writer, claims she has written a short story entitled "La Rivière du diamants", which mimics Maupassant's "The Necklace". The moment in which this occurs is set in the book to be around 1884, the year in which Maupassant actually published his short story.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roberts, Edgar (1991). Writing Themes About Literature (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. p. 4. ISBN 9780139710605.
  2. ^ "The Necklace Themes - eNotes.com". eNotes. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  3. ^ Dillon, Michael (2010). China: A Modern History. London: I. B. Tauris. p. 207. ISBN 9781850435822. OCLC 705886007. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  4. ^ Rudden, Liam (15 August 2008). "Mathilde makes it to the stage". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  5. ^ සිංහල සාහිත්‍ය සංග්‍රහය. Colombo: Education Publication Dept. Sri Lanka. 2016.
  6. ^ James, Henry. "Paste". The Henry James scholar's Guide to Web Sites. Retrieved 27 September 2014. The origin of "Paste" is rather more expressible.
  7. ^ Shukman, Henry (28 May 2004). "Homage to Maupassant". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant. Tales of Terror! The E.C. Companion, Seattle: Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, 2000, p. 198.

External links[edit]