Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18) - It would be difficult to find an aphorism that better describes the fate of the main character in Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “The Necklace”. Set in Paris in the late 1800s, Maupassant’s story shows the costs of pride. The main character, Madame Loisel, borrows a diamond necklace from her rich friend, Madame Forestier, to wear at a ball hosted by the Minister of Public Instruction at the Palace of the Ministry. To her dismay, Madame Loisel loses the necklace, and she and her husband spend the next ten years paying back the loans they had to take out to replace the necklace, only to discover that the necklace was fake. Her pride plunges both her and her husband into abject poverty. Guy de Maupassant develops his theme of pride in his short story “The Necklace” through the use of characterization, symbolism, and tone.
The first element that Guy de Maupassant employs to develop his theme of pride is his masterful use of characterization in “The Necklace”. Pierce states that “Maupassant’s genius lies in his characterization of the Loisels and the depiction of the hardships that they encounter” (Pierce 1). From the beginning of the story, Madame Loisel is portrayed as a deeply unhappy woman, who feels that she has been cheated by life by not being apart of the upper class: “She was as unhappy as though she has really fallen from her proper station” (Maupassant 1). In an attempt to soften the blow of her low birth, Madame Loisel engages in daydreaming, conjuring up visions of a better life.
Madame Loisel covets luxuries, dreaming of “... dainty dinners… delicious dishes served on marvellous plates…” (Maupassant 1). As Pierce puts it, “Madame Loisel is defined by what she lacks and what she is not rather than what she has and is” (Pierce 2). She longs for position and wealth and possesses neither: “She had no dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that…” (Maupassant 1). It is Madame Loisel’s desire to rise in society that ultimately causes her downfall. Her misplaced pride does indeed go before destruction, and her haughty spirit before a fall.
Monsieur Loisel, in contrast, is content with his place in life. He too is proud, but of what he has achieved, not what he desires to be. He does not yearn for dainty dinners but is satisfied with plain cooking: “... her husband, who uncovered the soup-tureen and declared with an enchanted air, ‘Ah, the good pot-au-feu! I dont know anything better than that.’” (Maupassant 1). Monsieur Loisel is happy and shows pride in the simple things in life. He is also proud when he receives the invitation to the ball and cannot understand his wife’s negative reaction to the invitation: “Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she threw the invitation on the table with disdain…” (Maupassant 2). He sacrifices money he has saved to buy a gun so that his wife can buy a suitable dress, but she is still not...