The Necklace

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"The Necklace"
220px
La Parure, illustration of the title page of the Gil Albs, 8 October 1893
AuthorGuy de Maupassant
Original title"La Pare"
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]

Mme. 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. Through lots of begging at work, her husband is able to get an invitation for the both of them to the Ministry of Education party. Mathilde refuses to go, for she has nothing to wear, and wishes not to be embarrassed.

Her husband is upset to see her displeasure and, using all the money that he was saving to buy a hunting rifle, gives Mathilde 400 francs to use. Mathilde buys a dress but is still unhappy because she lacks jewels to wear with it. The couple do not have much money left, so her husband suggests that she should buy flowers to wear with it. After Mathilde disagrees, he suggests borrowing something from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Mathilde borrows Madame Forestier's fanciest piece, a huge diamond necklace. After attending the party, Mathilde discovers that she has lost the necklace. She tries to find a quick way to replace it. She goes to the Palais-Royal shop and finds a similar necklace for 40,000 francs but they could get it in 36,000 francs. For the next ten years, the couple sell everything they own, securing loans at high interest rates to pay for the necklace.

After having paid off the debt, while walking along the Champs-Élysées, Mathilde suddenly sees Madame Forestier, who barely recognizes her in her somewhat shabby state. As the women are talking, Mathilde recounts the story of losing and replacing the necklace, and that it was because of Madame Forestier that she has lived so terribly the past ten years. Horrified, Madame Forestier takes Mathilde's hands, explaining that her original necklace was a fake or "made of paste", and was worth nothing more than 500 francs.

Themes[edit]

One of the themes within "The Necklace" is the dichotomy of reality vs. appearance. Madame Loisel is beautiful on the outside, but inside she is discontented with her 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, 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 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 been honest to Madame Forestier, she'd 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 2016-11-14.
  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]