The Value of Possessions Examined in Guy de Maupassant's Short Story, "The Necklace"
The late Irish poet Oscar Wilde once stated, "In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it" (qtd. in The Quotations Page). This quote accurately describes human nature to the extent that man is never fully satisfied with his current possessions. In fact, most people who rely on materialistic items for happiness are typically desolated and miserable. Guy de Maupassant enlivens these assertions in his short story, "The Necklace." Maupassant reveals his ingenious style through a portrayal of a battle with morality, in which the central character, Mathilde Loisel, struggles with excessive wants that ultimately doom her to perpetual despair.
In the beginning of "The Necklace," the reader can clearly distinguish Madame Loisel's immense need for luxurious items. Maupassant describes Madame Loisel as somewhat miserable due to her ordinary standard of living: "She was simple since she could not be adorned; but she was unhappy as though kept out of her own class...She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury" (Par. 3). Madame Loisel complains about her husband and his common profession, feeling as though she should be "married by a man rich and distinguished" (Par. 1). She knows that her husband can not provide the luxuries which she so desperately desires. These lingering feelings cause Madame Loisel to undervalue the nonmaterial importance of life.
All the while, the reader must consider the significant aspect of Madame Loisel's misleading view about her social class. Although Madame Loisel feels unfit and tortured to be of her economic status, the reader can easily determine that her lifestyle is nowhere near poverty. In fact, Madame Loisel and her husband lead a rather normal, middle-class lifestyle. Maupaussant reveals this feature through an example of four hundred francs Mister Loisel is able to save: "For he was reserving just that sum to buy a gun and treat himself" to a hunting trip, which is typically a middle-class excursion. (Par. 27) The Loisel's are also fortunate enough to hire a maid to do the "humble housework" (Par. 3). These aforementioned amenities are not qualities of an impoverished, deprived household;...