Guy de Maupassant
I read this short story long ago. Then my kids read it (not too long ago). And because I can’t resist re-reading things my kids bring home, I’ve read it again. I love short stories because of their economy of words and I especially enjoy how many of them end with the ironic twist that keeps you thinking long after you’ve finished reading.
“The Necklace,” by Guy de Maupassant is a perfect example of this style. It’s the story of Mathilde Loisel, a young and beautiful, but common French woman, married to a simple clerk. Believing she deserves better and feeling bitter about her circumstances, she suffers in her daily life. When her husband brings home an invitation to a palace ball, Mathilde’s true character emerges. Thinking she would be excited to go, her husband quickly discovers that his efforts to get the invitation fall short. Going isn’t enough. She must also have a new dress. And when that isn’t enough, she must have jewelry to wear around her neck, not fresh flowers as her husband suggested.
The diamond necklace, borrowed from her wealthy friend Mme. Forestier, transforms Mathilde. The author writes,
She danced with intoxication, with passion, made drunk by pleasure, forgetting all, in the triumph of her beauty, in the glory of her success, in a sort of cloud of happiness composed of all this homage, of all this admiration, of all these awakened desires, and of that sense of complete victory which is so sweet to a woman’s heart.
Reality strikes them when the ball is over and the necklace is lost…
That’s where I stop because if you’ve never read this story, I don’t want to spoil the ending!
Guy de Maupassant was a prolific writer of novels and short stories. He was greatly influenced by Gustave Flaubert, who became his mentor. “The Necklace” was first published in 1884 in the French newspaper “Le Gaulois.”
Have you read this story? Did you like it? I’d love to hear from you!
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