The Necklace* Guy de Maupassant

“The Necklace”
Guy de Maupassant
1. Did Madame Loisel marry her husband
because she loved him?
No, Madame Loisel did not marry M. Loisel
because she loved him. By “letting” herself
marry someone, it means her heart wasn’t
totally into it. As a result, one can assume she
is not happy in her marriage. (especially since
she still dreams of another life)
“…… and she let herself be married to a little
clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction.”
( page 191, paragraph 1)
2. According to the narrator, what
characteristics of womanhood are able to
overcome a lack of money, education, or social
The characteristics that could overpower rank
are outside beauty, natural grace and
elegance, charm, and witty.
“ ….and beauty, grace, and charm act instead
of family or birth. Natural fineness, instinct
for what is elegant, suppleness of wit, are the
sole hierarchy, and make from women of the
people the equals of the very greatest ladies.”
(page 191, paragraph 2)
3. How does Mme. Loisel react to the invitation
she receives from her husband? Why does she
react this way?
Mme. Loisel becomes angry and throws the invitation
on the table with disdain.
She is so upset because she feels that she doesn’t have
anything proper to wear to a ball with the upper class.
“Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped,
she threw the invitation on the table with disdain,
murmuring: ‘What do you want me to do with that?”
(page 192, paragraph 7)
4. What does Mme. Loisel’s husband suggest she wear in
place of jewelry? How does Mme. Loisel react to this
suggestion? Why did she react this way?
M. Loisel suggested his wife wear natural flowers instead of
jewels stating that natural flowers were “very stylish at this
time of year.”
Mme. Loisel was not satisfied with that answer and tried to
make her husband feel guilty about this suggestion.
Mme. Loisel reacts this way because she wants to look like
she truly is part of the higher class which partly means
wearing jewels.
“She was not convinced. ‘ No; there’s nothing more
humiliating than to look poor among other women who are
rich.” (page 194 paragraphs 2-3)
5. List three things M. Loisel does to find
the lost necklace. Is he successful?
He retraces their steps.
He goes to the police and cab offices to see if it was turned in.
He puts an ad in the newspaper offering a reward.
He is NOT successful in finding the necklace.
“I shall go back on foot,” said he, “over the whole route which we
have taken, to see if I can’t find it.” ( Page 196, paragraph 10)
“ He went to Police Headquarters, to the newspaper offices, to
offer a reward; he went to the cab companies-everywhere, in fact,
whither he was urged by the least suspicion of hope.” (page 197,
paragraph 2)
6. What does M. Loisel do to get the money for
the new necklace? What does this infer about
his character?
M. Loisel first takes money inherited from his father and then approaches MANY
people to obtain loans to pay for the necklace. He would the pay the loans back
through work and through scheduled payments which charged very high interest rates.
We can infer that M. Loisel is extremely dedicated to his wife because he literally put
his life on the line by borrowing the money from people who could hurt him if he did
not pay them back appropriately. He gave up his whole life just to pay for the necklace,
and he did this for his wife, Mathilde.
“ Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which his father had left him. He would
borrow the rest. …He did borrow, asking a thousand francs of one, five hundred of
another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes, took up ruinous obligations,
dealt with usurers, and all the race of lenders. He compromised all the rest of his life,
risked his signature without even knowing if he could meet it; and frightened by the
pains yet to come, by the black misery which was about to fall upon him, by the
prospect of all the physical privations and of all the moral tortures which he was to
suffer.” (pages 197-198)
7. Give another example of what M. Loisel is
like. Give an example and explain what that
proves about him.
• Possible Answers:
He gave up the money he was saving so his wife could buy a nice dress for the
He went to a party and stayed MUCH later than he wanted to because his wife was
having such a great time. When they left, he was to be at work in six hours.
He gave up all of his money and his entire life to replace the necklace and then to
pay back everyone who lent him money.
All of these actions show that M. Loisel is an extremely selfless, modest man. He
doesn’t need the luxuries his wife wanted, yet he was willing to do anything to make
his wife happy by attempting to get those luxuries for her.
“ He compromised all the rest of his life, risked his signature without even knowing
if he could meet it……”(page 198, paragraph 1)
“Her husband had been sleeping since midnight, in a little deserted anteroom, with
three other gentlemen whose wives were having a good time.” (page 195, paragraph
“All was ended, for her. And as to him, he reflected that he must be at the Ministry
at ten o’clock.” (page 196, paragraph 3)
8. Find one sentence that reveals Mme. Loisel
HAD been living in a situation that was not
quite as impoverished as her opinion of it.
Possible Answers:
“She came to know what heavy housework meant and the
odious cares of the kitchen.” (page 198, paragraph 4)
To NOT know what heavy housework or cares of the kitchen
were, it means she could have had it much worse.
“They dismissed their servant…” (page
Anyone who has a servant definitely does NOT have it THAT
9. How long does it take for the Loisel’s to pay off their
debt? What does Mme. Loisel have to do in that time
period? How does she change physically?
It took the Loisels ten years to pay off their debt.
Mme. Loisel has to do all of the jobs a lower class peasant would do. It was all manual, hard
Mme. Loisel now seems much older than she had. She is hard, strong, and crude. Her
appearance is no longer as beautiful as it was, her skin is weathered from hard labor, and her
general manner has become more coarse.
“She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She
washed the dishes, using her rosy nails on the greasy pots and pans. She washed the dirty
linen, the shirts, the dishcloths, which, which dried upon the line…she carried the slops of
water down to the street every morning, stopping for breath at every landing.” (page 198,
paragraph 4)
“Mme. Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished householdsstrong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew, and red hands…” (page 198-199)
10. What happens when Mme. Loisel
meets Mme. Forestier on the Champ
Mme. Forestier does not even recognize her friend,
Mathilde when she approached her. She then tells her
friend that the diamond necklace was NOT real
(“paste) and that it was worth no more than five
hundred francs.
“ Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It
was worth at most five hundred francs!” (page 201, last
11. What do you think Mme. Loisel’s reaction
would be when she learned that she had altered
the complete course of her life unnecessarily?
This is an opinion question, but based on what we know
about Mme. Loisel, we can probably assume she will
consume herself with the lost years for many more
FUTURE years being that she is not one to let go of things.
She will also probably never stop dreaming about “the good
“…when her husband was at the office, she sat down near
the window, and she thought of that gay evening of long
ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so
feted. What would have happened if she had not lost that
necklace? Who knows? Who knows? How life is strange and
changeful! “ ( page 199, paragraph 1)
12. What point of view is this story
told in?
This story is told in third person
limited omniscient point of view.
The narrator is not part of the story,
but knows the thoughts and feelings of
Mathilde only. “ She thought of the
silent antechambers hung with
Oriental tapestry…” (page 191,
paragraph 3)
13. Direct Characterization
“She dressed plainly because she could
not dress well, but she was as unhappy as
though she has really fallen from her
proper station…” (page 191, paragraph 2)
The author is directly stating these facts
about Mme. Loisel in the beginning of the
story. There is nothing to assume since we
are being told straight out.
13. Indirect Characterization
“It annoys me not to have a single jewel, not a
single stone, nothing to put on. I shall look
like distress. I should almost rather not go at
all.” (page 193, last paragraph)
Through what Mme. Loisel says, we can tell that she
is not grateful for the invitation to the ball OR the
fact that her husband gave her 400 francs to buy a
new dress. It is proving to the reader how selfish she
truly is.