The Development of Irony In Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace"

Essay by Kimberly EdnieCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 1997

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Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace" is situational irony

written in 1884. The story was written in a time when there were very

distinct social classes primarily determined by one's birth. It is about

a woman who can not come to terms with her position in the middle

class. Although she knows she can not escape her class, she

refuses to accept it gracefully. It is through Matilde that Maupassant

develops the story's irony. This is reflected through Matilde's

daydreaming, which only serves to torment her, the loss of the

necklace borrowed for show, which only worsens their economic

position, and finally, their unnecessary sacrifice.

The irony begins with Matilde's frequent daydreaming. She is a

beautiful and charming woman who feels "herself destined for all

delicacies and luxuries" (4). Fate, however, placed her among the

middle class where life was very simple. For her, the only means to

a more affluent class was through her imagination.

She dreams of

"large silent anterooms, expensive silks and of achievement and fame

that would make her the envy of all other women" (4). What she fails

to realize is that these daydreams only make her more dissatisfied

with her real life. As a result, she becomes more focused on what

she does not have rather than what she does have.

Contributing to the irony is the borrowed necklace. Matilde's

husband brings a coveted dinner invitation home, and her first

reaction is concern for appearances. She tells her husband that they

can not possibly go because she has "nothing to wear" (5). Her

husband agrees to buy her a new dress. This, however, is not

enough for Matilde; she needs jewelry. She explains that, without

jewelry, she will appear "shabby in the company of rich women" (6).

In her quest...