Throughout the ages, literature has consistently reflected the interests and activities of a people. Therefore, some themes have been dominant in World Literature from ancient times to the present. One such theme greed and generosity, which is explored in the French short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant.
On August 5, 1850, Maupassant was born near Normandy, France, where he lived for the majority of his childhood. He was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, who were both from prestigious bourgeois families. When Maupassant was eleven years old, his parents were legally divorced and both he and his brother lived with their mother until the age of thirteen when he attended a Catholic seminary school. It was apparent that Maupassant displayed hostility towards religion, however, because soon afterwards he deliberately got himself expelled. Despite this setback, Maupassant’s education did not end there – he finished his general schooling at a Rauen boarding school where he studied poetry and had a prominent part in theatricals (Wilson 167).
Guy de Maupassant’s studies were abruptly interrupted, however, once he was enlisted in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and positioned in Normandy. Upon returning one year later, Maupassant’s experiences during the war greatly influenced his views of society and human nature, which would be evident in his novels and short stories. (“Maupassant”). In 1878, Maupassant was transferred to the Ministry of Public Instruction and became an editor of several newspapers such as Le Gualois and Gil-Blas, the newspapers in which he would later publish many of his short stories. It was in 1880 that Maupassant published the short story that many consider to be his first masterpiece, “Boule de Suif,” which met tremendous success. The story, largely influenced by his experiences in the army, was set during the Franco-Prussian War and was followed by other short stories such as “Mother Savage,” and “Mademoiselle Fifi” (Wilson 167).
From 1880 to 1891, the decade during which Maupassant was most proficient, he published six novels and nearly three hundred short stories, in addition to poems, plays, and travel sketches (“Maupassant”). His most famous and widely translated short story, “The Necklace”, first appeared in the French newspaper Le Gaulois on February 17, 1884 and was later included in Maupassant’s collection Stories of Night and Day. It is largely due to this narrative that Maupassant is so often associated with the ironic surprise endings that made several of his short stories, including “The Necklace”, so successful (Pierce 173).
Taking place in Paris, France, in 1885, “The Necklace” focuses on the unfortunate life of Madame Loisel and the illusive necklace that ultimately results in the demise of her character. Madame Loisel, the main character of the story, has always dreamed of being sophisticated and wealthy. Consumed by despair and regret, Madame Loisel is the epiphany of...