The Diamond Necklace is a story, written by Guy Maupassant, regarding an emblematic young girl, Mathilde, who was not appreciative of her background and suffered incessantly in her quest to enjoy all elegances and luxuries. Mathilde was troubled by the poverty of her dwelling, and once invited to a party she had to borrow a diamond necklace from her neighbor for her to stand out and match with the rest of the guests. At the party, she lost the necklace and a while later had to sell everything and incur debts in order to pay for the lost necklace. Ten years after toiling to death to clear the debts, the necklace owner confessed to her that the necklace was a fake one. Maupassant relied on the characters personality of naivety, ungrateful, greed and selfishness to illustrate how the negative personality led to her downfall. The characters negative personalities help the audience to judge and agree that Mathilde suffering was self-inflicted. Through the elements of themes, irony, symbols, motifs Maupassant can relate how the characters value changed over time and was a result of her negative personality traits.
Maupassant used the element of several themes to illustrate how Mathildes perception of herself, happiness and riches pulled her in making imprudent, self-serving actions. Themes used in the story are in the scope of deceptive appearance, ungratefulness and perceived power of objects were used to illustrate how Mathilde misery was self-inflicting. Mathilde is illustrated to have a feeling of belonging to a certain social class, and she does everything in her power to get into that class. In her quest to change her life, the greed, impatience, and inability to reason with others lead her into having a set mind about the value of objects. For example, through the theme of deceptive appearance, Maupassant was able to link Mathilde perception of a fake necklace to her perception of her value.
The motif of coveting is used to illustrate how Mathilde desired everything that other people had, to the extent of coveting all their miseries. Mathilde is illustrated as being so covetous of other women, especially Madame Forestiers wealth. Despite getting presentable jewelry and dress to attend the party, Mathilde still covets other womens wear. The high level of coveting is used by the author to indicate to the audience a level of a dangerous life that can lead to Mathildes downfall and, alongside produces only short-lived happiness. Therefore, the motif of coveting was used as a hint that Mathilde will hit her downfall due to the high persistent of coveting.
The symbol of a necklace is used in the story to illustrate Mathilde's life of being beautiful but valueless in the end. Mathilde intention of borrowing the necklace was to depict her wealthy status to other people at the party. Mathilde believed the necklace is worth 40, 000 francs, whereas its worth was 500 francs. The necklace stands as the main element that led to Mathilde's downfall. Therefore, the neck can be symbolized to the deception or inability to deal with the reality of one situation. Due to Mathildes belief that the necklace was of high value, her life turns upside down; just as she believed she was of a higher value than the reality of her situation.
The irony was used in the story to depict how Mathilde lost her only asset, her beauty, to pay for something worthless. At the end of the story, the audience learns that the necklace was worth only 500 francs as opposed to Mathildes perception of 40,000 francs. The irony in the above instance helps the audience to understand that Mathilde ten years of suffering and loss of beauty was self-inflicting. In the first instances, after losing the necklace, the audience would have sympathized with Mathilde for having worked for ten years to repay the necklace. However, after learning the value of the necklace, the audience can only blame Mathilde for not having taken the time to ask the real value of the necklace.
Mathildes life of suffering as a result of her negative attitude and personality is justified through the elements of motif, theme, irony and symbols. A combination of the motif, theme, irony and symbols illustrates how Mathilde dug her own grave. Mathildes personality is depicted as being ungrateful, greedy and selfish, and which leads to her downfall. Her covetous and naive nature helps her to illustrate how her negative personality led to creating a higher value for material things and discrediting the real value of things and persons. If Mathilde character was in the opposite, it would have been had to fall into the trap of suffering for ten years. For example, if Mathilde had not borrowed the necklace, she could not have changed her beautiful value and suffered that much.
Maupassant, Guy. The Diamond Necklace. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
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