"The Necklace": Character Development Through Irony and Imagery
Guy de Maupassant wrote "The Necklace" during an era when women were under tremendous pressure to limit their potential as individuals. Social class was a prominent aspect of common life and women often found themselves playing a subsidiary role in any given class. Under the circumstances, a woman of "lower class" had overwhelming odds to overcome if she was to elevate her social standing (Marx). Mathilde Loisel, the main character of the story, longs to be a member of the "high society" of her time. Her poverty however, ensures that her ambitions remain only dreams. When Mathilde loses her friend's necklace, she not only risks the trust of the her friend but also risks losing one of the only opportunities she has to indulge in the lavish lifestyle of the upper crust of society. The allure of being a part of a superior group than she was currently in was dearly important to her, as it was to many women of the time who could not find an opportunity to achieve it (Hartzog).
Aspiring to be wealthy however, was the weakness that would thrust Mathilde into misery. Maupassant uses the gradual deterioration of Mathilde's life, and character to make his point about the flaws of forcing people into a hierarchal system of social classes. Lack of virtue on Mathilde's part also plays a role in her woeful situation. Although her decisions were also prompted by the seduction of living luxuriously if even for a moment. Overall, Mathilde is shaped by the irony of the situation she finds herself in, and by the imagery present throughout the course of the story.
The irony of "The Necklace" can be found primarily in the manner in which Mathilde's efforts to progress are actually the cause...