Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a twisted and broken fairytale.* Although this short story does embody some elements of fantasy, there is not merely enough evidence to support the claim that it is in fact a “ modern fairytale.” Fairytales often include themes such as enchantment, which is shown when the main character dreams, but is this really such an enchanting thing? Another theme found in fairytales is an encounter with the main struggle, in “The Necklace,” the main character also comes to face with a challenge, but this challenge does not accurately fit the characteristics of an encounter. A third example of an element of a fairytale is the presence of a weak male figure. In this case, there is a weak man but he does not remain weak throughout the story. One final characteristic of a fairytale is the journey that is taken, in “The Necklace,” the main character does take certain steps, but are these steps really considered a ‘journey’? As will be learned, none of these elements found in fairytales truly conform to “The Necklace,” therefore not making it a “modern fairytale.”+
Enchantment, this element is present in almost all fairytales. In fact, it is the very thing that adds fantasy to the story itself. In “The Necklace,” the main character, Madame Mathilde Loisel dreams daily about
...great reception halls hung with old silks, of fine furniture filled with
priceless curios, and of small, stylish, scented sitting rooms just right
for the four o’clock chat with intimate friends, with distinguished and
sought-after men whose attention every woman envies and longs to
attract (Maupassant 28).
One could say that this is in fact enchanting enough, but if one were to analyze exactly what Mathilde is so infatuated with, only daily used objects and people would be uncovered. All she is dreaming of is furniture, friends, and men. Are these all truly “enchanting” things? There is no fairytale magic and no fairytale fantasy in ordinary objects and people! Therefore, “The Necklace” cannot truly be considered a “modern fairytale” as it contains no elements of enchantment.
In fairytales, the presence of a weak male character is usually found. While Mathilde’s husband in “The Necklace” could be acknowledged as such, there is suggestive evidence found in the story to show otherwise. One might argue that Mathilde’s husband easily gives in to his wife's overpowering desire for the finer things when he relinquishes four hundred francs so she can buy a fancy dress. When the story is analyzed carefully, the reader learns that when put into a stressful and hopeless situation, her husband will pull together to support his home. The fact that “Her husband labored evenings to balance tradesman’s accounts, and at night, often, he copied documents at five sous a page.” (Maupassant 33) shows he’s not weak- but the opposite of such!
The encounter is also a common idea seen in fairytales; it is the time when the main character(s) faces...