‘The Necklace’ Chapter Revision Notes: In the story ‘The Necklace’ showing the plight of Madame Loisel, the writer Maupassant is indirectly criticising the aristocracy as well as Loisel’s desperate desire to belong to this society. Through the story, the author explains that one must not be materialistic as it can result in grief and a disappointed life.
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Summary: The Necklace
Broadly, The Necklace can be divided into:
- Matilda – a Dreamy Woman
- Invitation to the Minister’s Party
- Problem of New Dress Solved
- Matilda Borrows a Diamond Necklace
- Matilda at the Party
- Loss of the Necklace
- Replacement of the Necklace
- Loisels’ Horrible Life
- The Truth is Out
Matilda – a Dreamy Woman
- Matilda or Mme Loisel was a pretty, young lady. Though born to a family of clerks, she believed herself entitled to a life of luxury.
- Knowing she had no chance of bettering her situation, Mme Loisel married a clerk in the office of the Board of Education.
- She was unhappy with her apartment with its worn-down walls and chairs.
- While her husband enjoyed the simple comforts of a potpie, Mme Loisel dreamed of exquisitely prepared dinners and shining silver dishes.
Invitation to the Minister’s Party
- One day, her husband came home delighted. He handed an envelope to Mme Loisel that contained an invitation to a ball hosted by the Minister of Public Instruction.
- Instead of being delighted, Mme Loisel was upset, which shocked her husband since it was a rare honour.
- Mme Loisel informed her husband that she had no suitable dress for the occasion.
Problem of New Dress Solved
- Mme Loisel’s husband, consolingly, asks her to buy a new dress.
- Though he had been saving money for a new gun, he gives that amount to his wife to buy a new dress.
- As the day of the ball approached, M. Loisel noticed that his wife was upset even though her dress was ready.
Matilda Borrows a Diamond Necklace
- Matilda had no jewel to wear with her dress.
- On her husband’s behest, Mme Loisel visited Mme Forestier to ask for a jewel.
- Mme Forestier graciously opened her jewel box and asked her to choose.
- Matilda noticed a beautiful diamond necklace in a black satin box.
- Hesitatingly, she asked Mme Forestier whether she could borrow the necklace.
- Mme Forestier agreed, and Matilda went home with the necklace happily.
Matilda at the Party
- At the ball, Matilda was a huge success. She was the most elegant and prettiest of all the ladies and enjoyed the attention and admiration of men.
- She danced and enjoyed herself till early in the morning.
- At four o’clock, the Loisels left the Minister’s residence.
- Not wanting the other rich ladies to see her shabby coat, Matilda hurried down the steps despite her husband’s protests.
- They had to walk for a while before they found a carriage which would take them home.
- Once home, Matilda removed her coat to admire herself one last time.
Loss of the Necklace
- Matilda realised that the necklace was missing!
- M. Loisel, though tired, went out in the cold night to look for the necklace but could not find it.
- The next day, he put an ad in the paper and asked Matilda to write to Mme Forestier saying she had broken a clasp.
- M. Loisel then realised that their only option was to replace the necklace.
Replacement of the Necklace
- They found a similar necklace in a shop which they could buy for thirty-six thousand francs.
- M. Loisel used all his savings and borrowed the rest of the money to buy the necklace.
- Mme Loisel then returned the necklace to Mme Forestier.
Loisels’ Horrible Life
- The Loisels, now, were in debt. They had to change homes, and Matilda learned kitchen work to help her husband repay their debt.
- Her husband worked days and night, taking on any work to repay the money they had borrowed.
- All this work took a toll on Mme Loisel. She lost her good looks. She had red hands and spoke in a loud tone.
- She no longer had time for daydreaming. But sometimes she would sit and remember the night of the ball.
The Truth is Out
- One day, while taking a walk, she saw Mme Forestier with her child.
- She decided to approach Mme. Forestier.
- Mme. Forestier was surprised by Matilda’s appearance.
- Matilda then told her the story of the necklace and how it changed her life.
- On hearing this, Mme. Forestier exclaimed that her necklace was not even worth five hundred francs.
The major themes of the lesson are:
- Reality and Illusion
- Beauty and Vanity
- Material Possessions
- Sacrifice and Suffering
Reality and Illusion
- The author shows how sometimes people are desperate to mask their reality merely to please people.
- In the story, Mme Loisel is seen attempting to appear richer than she truly is, by borrowing a diamond necklace that she could never afford.
- Mme Loisel is unable to see the existing comfort in her life due to the overpowering desire to have a luxurious life. This yearning results in the Loisels losing everything they ever had, worsening their health.
Beauty and Vanity
- Matilda believed that the only way to look beautiful was to own luxury items. She refused the invitation to the Minister’s party because she didn’t have a ‘suitable’ dress or jewellery. Beauty, for Matilda, only meant physical appearance.
- Because Matilda wore that expensive dress and the necklace, she was called “prettier than them all” which made her ‘crazy with joy’.
- After Matilda lost the borrowed necklace, the debt of the necklace that she had to replace changed her lifestyle drastically, which robbed the beauty she had.
- Although Matilda’s external beauty brought her momentary happiness, she lost both beauty and vanity by the end of the story.
- The author brings out the social ambition of Matilda through the story. Matilda indulges in luxurious objects that she cannot afford.
- Matilda borrows a diamond necklace from Mme. Forestier that gave her a feeling of contentment.
- Through her devastating condition, the author warns the readers against the dangers of excessive self-indulgence and criticises those who give them up to material possessions.
Sacrifice and Suffering
- M. Loisel, Matilda’s husband, makes immense sacrifices to keep his wife happy.
- He buys her a dress from the money that he had been saving for a new gun just so that Matilda feels comfortable attending the Minister’s party.
- M. Loisel eventually sacrifices his entire savings and invites a debt for years for a mistake that was not even his own in the first place.
- Matilda too ends up suffering for years due to her greed for material possessions.
The excerpt provides a brief glimpse into the characters:
- Mme Loisel
- M. Loisel
- Mme Forestier
Self-conscious: Matilda was unhappy with the worn-down walls and chairs of her apartment. She believed herself entitled to a life of luxury and thus desired luxurious material possessions.
Materialistic: Matilda constantly dreamt of assets to validate her beauty and social status. She borrowed a diamond necklace from Mme Forestier to look her best at the party.
Shallow: Matilda believed that the only way to look beautiful was to own luxury items. She only felt confident to attend the party after getting the dress and the diamond necklace. She also desired the instant gratification to satisfy herself of her material possessions.
Caring: M. Loisel is a caring husband. This can be derived from the fact that he bought her a dress from the money that he had been saving since long to buy a gun.
Sacrificing: He relentlessly searches for the necklace when it is lost and takes on a huge debt to replace it despite not being the one to lose it.
Content: Unlike Matilda, M. Loisel was satisfied with the life he had. He was comfortable being a clerk and enjoyed the simple comforts like that of a potpie.
Maximalist: Even though Mme Forestier owned a lot of jewellery, she seemed annoyed when there was a delay in returning her necklace.
Clever: Despite being wealthy, Mme Forestier owned imitation jewellery. The fact that she owned a fake necklace when she could afford a real one clearly shows that she was smart enough to invest in illusionary status symbols.
Helpful: Mme Forestier not only agreed to lend a piece of her jewellery to Matilda but also let her pick the one that she liked. This shows that she was kind and helpful towards her friends.
- The author has made use of Irony in the chapter.
- Mme Loisel was a pretty and a charming girl who was born in a family of clerks. To be ‘born as if through an error of destiny’ is ironic because the only person who feels this was is Mme Loisel herself.
- She believed herself entitled to a life of luxury and thus desired luxurious material possessions, but never gone one.
- On the other hand, M. Loisel is perfectly content with their social status and lifestyle.