Character Analysis in The Necklace
Despite his not finding anything, Monsieur Loisel still spend hours searching for the necklace while Mathilde stayed home. He does this without question, and his actions reinforce the contrast between his naturally generous and helpful demeanor and Mathilde's selfishness.
Mathilde's desire for a new dress and jewelry further characterize her as greedy. This moment where she covetously looks at the diamond necklace provides further support for this characterization, and her greed stands in contrast to the generosity of both her husband and Madame Forestier.
While an exact conversion to dollars or euros is difficult to make, Mathilde's husband's reaction reveals that this is still a relatively large amount of money. Despite his growing "a little pale," we can see that Monsieur Loisel is willing to put aside his own desires for the sake of his wife's.
The choice of economical here characterizes Monsieur Loisel in two ways. First, it has a positive connotation that suggests he is efficient with spending money and good at his job. This contrasts with the second connotation (which Mathilde likely intends) that negatively characterizes him as cheap and unwilling to spend any money.
Monsieur Loisel reveals himself to be caring and generous. He not only notices how his wife desires fine things and company, but he also acts to provide what he can for his wife despite his limited income and social position. Even though Mathilde doesn't recognize this, the fact that not many clerks are receiving invitations to this event actually shows that her husband has acquired some level of success and reputation.
Even though she does not have a lot of money, this desire for material possessions characterizes Mathilde as greedy and runs through the poem as a theme. Throughout the story, Maupassant includes specific details that reinforce this notion, specifically ones that contrast other character's generosity with Mathilde's greed.
Mathilde is not only imagining the objects that she would like to possess, but she is also considering the social interactions and behaviors she wishes were a part of her life. Sphinxlike refers to something that is mysterious or difficult to understand. In her mind, only these kinds of inscrutable smiles are appropriate for upper-class persons.
Monsieur Loisel's attitude stands in stark contrast to his wife's. This statement reveals his satisfaction with such simple, inexpensive fare and likely how pleased he is to have such a lovely wife. However, this also shows how intolerable Mathilde likely finds her situation because her husband he is undistinguished, unambitious, and unlikely to rise much higher in civil employment.
This detail reminds the reader that Mathilde and her husband do not have enough money to have clean cloth each day, but it also shows how Mathilde focuses on small details. While a tablecloth might be dirty from a few days of use, it might equally not be very dirty. Her observation of this small detail reinforces how unsatisfied she is with her situation and possessions.
Maupassant includes this detail to show that for all of the suffering Mathilde endures, she still does not have to do her own housework and can afford to have one servant. Despite her not having the luxuries she dreams of, Mathilde is still considered in the lower bourgeoisie, a class above traders and laborers, and has more than many.