Analysis Pages

Character Analysis in The Necklace

Mathilde Loisel: Mathilde is a dissatisfied housewife who dreams of a life of glamour and wealth. She feels trapped in a middle-class life and longs to for the life of riches that she believes she deserves.

Monsieur Loisel: In contrast to Mathilde’s selfishness and greed, her husband demonstrates generosity and sacrifice. He is upset with his wife’s dissatisfaction and works hard to secure tickets to the Ministry of Education ball to make her happy. When Mathilde loses the necklace, Monsieur Loisel undergoes ten years of hard work and poverty in order to purchase a replacement.

Madame Forestier: Madame Forestier is the wealthy friend of the Loisel’s who lends Mathilde the diamond necklace for the ball. She is generous to Mathilde.

Character Analysis Examples in The Necklace:

The Necklace


"He had found nothing...."   (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.

"Will you lend me this, only this?..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"four hundred francs..."   (The Necklace)

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 economical clerk..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"Why, my dear, I thought you would be glad..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries...."   (The Necklace)

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.

"a sphinxlike smile..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"Ah, the good soup! I don't know anything better than that..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"a tablecloth in use three days..."   (The Necklace)

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.

"The sight of the little Breton peasant who did her humble housework..."   (The Necklace)

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.

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