La Parure, illustration of the title page of the Gil Blas, 8 October 1893
|Author||Guy de Maupassant|
|Original title||"La Parure"|
"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, which was a hallmark of de Maupassant's style. The story was first published on 17 February 1884 in the French newspaper Le Gaulois.
The story has been adapted to film and television several times.
Madame Mathilde Loisel has always imagined herself in a high state of aristocracy.The fact that she was born into a lower middle class family is described as an "error 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 goes out and buys a dress, but even with the dress she is not happy, as she is without any jewels to wear with it. The couple does 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 goes to Madame Forestier and picks out her fanciest piece, a huge diamond necklace. She looks at it with covetousness. 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 a shop and discovers the price of a similar necklace to be 40,000 francs, eventually purchasing it for 36,000 francs. The couple has sold everything they owned and must secure loans at high interest rates to pay for the necklace.
Ten years later, while walking along the Champs-Élysées, she suddenly sees Madame Forestier, who barely recognizes her in her dire 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 made of paste, and was worth nothing more than 500 francs.
One of the themes within "The Necklace" is the dichotomy of reality vs. appearance. Madame Loisel is beautiful on the outside, but internally, she is filled with discontent for her less-than-wealthy lifestyle. This idea goes hand-in-hand with the notion that wealth is necessary in order for one to be happy. Mathilde is gripped by a greed that contrasts with the kind generosity of her husband. 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 that was lent to her.
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.
Adaptations and other influence
The following are direct adaptations of "The Necklace":
- The Diamond Necklace (1921), a British silent film directed by Denison Clift and starring Milton Rosmer, Jessie Winter, and Warwik Ward
- A String of Pearls (Yichuan Zhenzhu) (1926), a Chinese film directed by Li Zeyuan
- "The Necklace" (1949), the first episode of the NBC-TV series Your Show Time (producer Stanley Rubin won the first-ever Emmy Award for this episode)
- Mathilde (2008), a stage musical by the Irish composer Conor Mitchell
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
- "Mr. Know-All" (1925) and "A String of Beads" (1943), short stories by Somerset Maugham that both revolve around the price of a necklace
- "The Diamond Pendant" in Impact #1, E.C. Comics, March/April 1955; adaptation by Carl Wessler, illustrated by Graham Ingels
- Vennila Veedu (2014), a Tamil family drama uses a similar story as its main theme
- Nayanthara's necklace starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Tillotama Shome (India)
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.
- Roberts, Edgar (1991). Writing Themes About Literature (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. p. 4. ISBN 9780139710605.
- "The Necklace Themes - eNotes.com". eNotes. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
- Dillon, Michael (2010). China: A Modern History. London: I. B. Tauris. p. 207. ISBN 9781850435822. OCLC 705886007. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- Rudden, Liam (15 August 2008). "Mathilde makes it to the stage". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
- James, Henry. "Paste". The Henry James scholar's Guide to Web Sites. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
The origin of "Paste" is rather more expressible.
- Shukman, Henry (28 May 2004). "Homage to Maupassant". The Guardian.
- Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant. Tales of Terror! The E.C. Companion, Seattle: Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, 2000, p. 198.