The Necklace

The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks. She had no dowry, no expectations, no way of being known, understood, loved, married by any rich and distinguished man; so she let herself be married to a little clerk of the Ministry of Public Instruction.

She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was unhappy as if she had really fallen from a higher station; since with women there is neither caste nor rank, for beauty, grace and charm take the place of family and birth. Natural ingenuity, instinct for what is elegant, a supple mind are their sole hierarchy, and often make of women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.

Mathilde suffered ceaselessly, feeling herself born to enjoy all delicacies and all luxuries. She was distressed at the poverty of her dwelling, at the bareness of the walls, at the shabby chairs, the ugliness of the curtains. All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry. The sight of the little Breton peasant who did her humble housework aroused in her despairing regrets and bewildering dreams. She thought of silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry, illumined by tall bronze candelabra, and of two great footmen in knee breeches who sleep in the big armchairs, made drowsy by the oppressive heat of the stove. She thought of long reception halls hung with ancient silk, of the dainty cabinets containing priceless curiosities and of the little coquettish perfumed reception rooms made for chatting at five o'clock with intimate friends, with men famous and sought after, whom all women envy and whose attention they all desire.

When she sat down to dinner, before the round table covered with a tablecloth in use three days, opposite her husband, who uncovered the soup tureen and declared with a delighted air, "Ah, the good soup! I don't know anything better than that," she thought of dainty dinners, of shining silverware, of tapestry that peopled the walls with ancient personages and with strange birds flying in the midst of a fairy forest; and she thought of delicious dishes served on marvellous plates and of the whispered gallantries to which you listen with a sphinxlike smile while you are eating the pink meat of a trout or the wings of a quail.

She had no gowns, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that. She felt made for that. She would have liked so much to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after.

She had a friend, a former schoolmate at the convent, who was rich, and whom she did not like to go to see any more because she felt so sad when she came home.

But one evening her husband reached home with a triumphant air and holding a large envelope in his hand.

"There," said he, "there is something for you."

She tore the paper quickly and drew out a printed card which bore these words:

The Minister of Public Instruction and Madame Georges Ramponneau request the honor of M. and Madame Loisel's company at the palace of the Ministry on Monday evening, January 18th.

Instead of being delighted, as her husband had hoped, she threw the invitation on the table crossly, muttering:

"What do you wish me to do with that?"

"Why, my dear, I thought you would be glad. You never go out, and this is such a fine opportunity. I had great trouble to get it. Every one wants to go; it is very select, and they are not giving many invitations to clerks. The whole official world will be there."

She looked at him with an irritated glance and said impatiently:

"And what do you wish me to put on my back?"

He had not thought of that. He stammered:

"Why, the gown you go to the theatre in. It looks very well to me."

He stopped, distracted, seeing that his wife was weeping. Two great tears ran slowly from the corners of her eyes toward the corners of her mouth.

"What's the matter? What's the matter?" he answered.

By a violent effort she conquered her grief and replied in a calm voice, while she wiped her wet cheeks:

"Nothing. Only I have no gown, and, therefore, I can't go to this ball. Give your card to some colleague whose wife is better equipped than I am."

He was in despair. He resumed:

"Come, let us see, Mathilde. How much would it cost, a suitable gown, which you could use on other occasions--something very simple?"

She reflected several seconds, making her calculations and wondering also what sum she could ask without drawing on herself an immediate refusal and a frightened exclamation from the economical clerk.

Finally she replied hesitating:

"I don't know exactly, but I think I could manage it with four hundred francs."

He grew a little pale, because he was laying aside just that amount to buy a gun and treat himself to a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre, with several friends who went to shoot larks there of a Sunday.

But he said:

"Very well. I will give you four hundred francs. And try to have a pretty gown."

The day of the ball drew near and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy, anxious. Her frock was ready, however. Her husband said to her one evening:

"What is the matter? Come, you have seemed very queer these last three days."

And she answered:

"It annoys me not to have a single piece of jewelry, not a single ornament, nothing to put on. I shall look poverty-stricken. I would almost rather not go at all."

"You might wear natural flowers," said her husband. "They're very stylish at this time of year. For ten francs you can get two or three magnificent roses."

She was not convinced.

"No; there's nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich."

"How stupid you are!" her husband cried. "Go look up your friend, Madame Forestier, and ask her to lend you some jewels. You're intimate enough with her to do that."

She uttered a cry of joy:

"True! I never thought of it."

The next day she went to her friend and told her of her distress.

Madame Forestier went to a wardrobe with a mirror, took out a large jewel box, brought it back, opened it and said to Madame Loisel:

"Choose, my dear."

She saw first some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian gold cross set with precious stones, of admirable workmanship. She tried on the ornaments before the mirror, hesitated and could not make up her mind to part with them, to give them back. She kept asking:

"Haven't you any more?"

"Why, yes. Look further; I don't know what you like."

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin box, a superb diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with an immoderate desire. Her hands trembled as she took it. She fastened it round her throat, outside her high-necked waist, and was lost in ecstasy at her reflection in the mirror.

Then she asked, hesitating, filled with anxious doubt:

"Will you lend me this, only this?"

"Why, yes, certainly."

She threw her arms round her friend's neck, kissed her passionately, then fled with her treasure.

The night of the ball arrived. Madame Loisel was a great success. She was prettier than any other woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling and wild with joy. All the men looked at her, asked her name, sought to be introduced. All the attaches of the Cabinet wished to waltz with her. She was remarked by the minister himself.

She danced with rapture, with passion, intoxicated by pleasure, forgetting all in the triumph of her beauty, in the glory of her success, in a sort of cloud of happiness comprised of all this homage, admiration, these awakened desires and of that sense of triumph which is so sweet to woman's heart.

She left the ball about four o'clock in the morning. Her husband had been sleeping since midnight in a little deserted anteroom with three other gentlemen whose wives were enjoying the ball.

He threw over her shoulders the wraps he had brought, the modest wraps of common life, the poverty of which contrasted with the elegance of the ball dress. She felt this and wished to escape so as not to be remarked by the other women, who were enveloping themselves in costly furs.

Loisel held her back, saying: "Wait a bit. You will catch cold outside. I will call a cab."

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended the stairs. When they reached the street they could not find a carriage and began to look for one, shouting after the cabmen passing at a distance.

They went toward the Seine in despair, shivering with cold. At last they found on the quay one of those ancient night cabs which, as though they were ashamed to show their shabbiness during the day, are never seen round Paris until after dark.

It took them to their dwelling in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they mounted the stairs to their flat. All was ended for her. As to him, he reflected that he must be at the ministry at ten o'clock that morning.

She removed her wraps before the glass so as to see herself once more in all her glory. But suddenly she uttered a cry. She no longer had the necklace around her neck!

"What is the matter with you?" demanded her husband, already half undressed.

She turned distractedly toward him.

"I have--I have--I've lost Madame Forestier's necklace," she cried.

He stood up, bewildered.

"What!--how? Impossible!"

They looked among the folds of her skirt, of her cloak, in her pockets, everywhere, but did not find it.

"You're sure you had it on when you left the ball?" he asked.

"Yes, I felt it in the vestibule of the minister's house."

"But if you had lost it in the street we should have heard it fall. It must be in the cab."

"Yes, probably. Did you take his number?"

"No. And you--didn't you notice it?"


They looked, thunderstruck, at each other. At last Loisel put on his clothes.

"I shall go back on foot," said he, "over the whole route, to see whether I can find it."

He went out. She sat waiting on a chair in her ball dress, without strength to go to bed, overwhelmed, without any fire, without a thought.

Her husband returned about seven o'clock. He had found nothing.

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 spark of hope.

She waited all day, in the same condition of mad fear before this terrible calamity.

Loisel returned at night with a hollow, pale face. He had discovered nothing.

"You must write to your friend," said he, "that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it mended. That will give us time to turn round."

She wrote at his dictation.

At the end of a week they had lost all hope. Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

"We must consider how to replace that ornament."

The next day they took the box that had contained it and went to the jeweler whose name was found within. He consulted his books.

"It was not I, madame, who sold that necklace; I must simply have furnished the case."

Then they went from jeweler to jeweler, searching for a necklace like the other, trying to recall it, both sick with chagrin and grief.

They found, in a shop at the Palais Royal, a string of diamonds that seemed to them exactly like the one they had lost. It was worth forty thousand francs. They could have it for thirty-six.

So they begged the jeweler not to sell it for three days yet. And they made a bargain that he should buy it back for thirty-four thousand francs, in case they should find the lost necklace before the end of February.

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 signing a note without even knowing whether he could meet it; and, frightened by the trouble yet to come, by the black misery that was about to fall upon him, by the prospect of all the physical privations and moral tortures that he was to suffer, he went to get the new necklace, laying upon the jeweler's counter thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace Madame Forestier said to her with a chilly manner:

"You should have returned it sooner; I might have needed it."

She did not open the case, as her friend had so much feared. If she had detected the substitution, what would she have thought, what would she have said? Would she not have taken Madame Loisel for a thief?

Thereafter Madame Loisel knew the horrible existence of the needy. She bore her part, however, with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it. They dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof.

She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her dainty fingers and rosy nails on greasy pots and pans. She washed the soiled linen, the shirts and the dishcloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning and carried up the water, stopping for breath at every landing. And dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, a basket on her arm, bargaining, meeting with impertinence, defending her miserable money, sou by sou.

Every month they had to meet some notes, renew others, obtain more time.

Her husband worked evenings, making up a tradesman's accounts, and late at night he often copied manuscript for five sous a page.

This life lasted ten years.

At the end of ten years they had paid everything, everything, with the rates of usury and the accumulations of the compound interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households--strong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew and red hands, she talked loud while washing the floor with great swishes of water. But sometimes, 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 admired.

What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? who knows? How strange and changeful is life! How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!

But one Sunday, having gone to take a walk in the Champs Elysees to refresh herself after the labors of the week, she suddenly perceived a woman who was leading a child. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still charming.

Madame Loisel felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all about it. Why not?

She went up.

"Good-day, Jeanne."

The other, astonished to be familiarly addressed by this plain good-wife, did not recognize her at all and stammered:

"But--madame!--I do not know--You must have mistaken."

"No. I am Mathilde Loisel."

Her friend uttered a cry.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! How you are changed!"

"Yes, I have had a pretty hard life, since I last saw you, and great poverty--and that because of you!"

"Of me! How so?"

"Do you remember that diamond necklace you lent me to wear at the ministerial ball?"

"Yes. Well?"

"Well, I lost it."

"What do you mean? You brought it back."

"I brought you back another exactly like it. And it has taken us ten years to pay for it. You can understand that it was not easy for us, for us who had nothing. At last it is ended, and I am very glad."

Madame Forestier had stopped.

"You say that you bought a necklace of diamonds to replace mine?"

"Yes. You never noticed it, then! They were very similar."

And she smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her hands.

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!"


  1. It is Monsieur Loisel who makes the decision to deceive Madame Forestier. He is concerned about his position and his career with the Ministry of Public Instruction. He realizes that some people may think he and his wife only pretended to lose the necklace but had kept it with the intention of selling it at some later date. That could jeopardize his reputation at the Ministry and prevent him from receiving future promotions. His wife could not take the initiative in deceiving Madame Forestier because Mathilde has no income and no power to borrow money to pay for a replacement of the lost necklace.

    — William Delaney
  2. While readers will correctly understand that "paste" in this context means a "fake," this is based on one of the additional meanings of the word "paste." When used as a noun, "paste" can refer to a heavy, clear-flint glass that is used for making imitation gems, such as diamonds.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a famous boulevard in Paris, known for its cafes, theaters, and luxury shops. In the mid- to late-19th century, the gardens took on a more picturesque, English style with flowerbeds, groves of trees, and footpaths.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Compared to a louis or a franc, the sou is the least valuable form of currency from 19th-century France. This means that she has become extremely aware of the value and amount of money she has, and she does not want to spend anything unnecessarily.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Garrets are small rooms in the roof of a building. Due to their being small, and typically dingy, they were the cheapest rooms to rent and served as homes for many of the poor.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. The 20-francs gold coin, a louis d'or, became known as Napoleon gold coins after the change in monetary law at the beginning of the 19th century by Napoleon the first.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. The Palais Royal is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. At the time this story was written, there was a covered passageway that housed many kind of shops where fine goods could be bought.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. The deep embarrassment they feel at having failed provides insight into their rationale for not admitting that the necklace was lost in the first place. Despite the friendship that Mathilde has with Madame Forestier, it appears that social obligations and class divisions run so deep in society that they would rather make themselves sick trying to solve the problem instead of admitting their mistake.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. An "attaché" is someone who serves on the staff of someone else, an establishment, or an organization. The "Cabinet" here refers to part of the governing political body in Paris. These details serve to remind readers that Mathilde is participating in a high-end, aristocratic ball.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. The original French here can also be translated as, "her heart beat covetously." The notion is that her "immoderate desire" represents greed and her belief that she should live like her friend Madame Forestier.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. This word choice is important because "fled" means to run away from a place of peril or danger. This gives the impression that Mathilde is afraid her friend might change her mind.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. Satin is a smooth, silky material that is fairly expensive and objects made of this material generally give the impression of luxury. Fine pieces of jewelry are often contained in such boxes to protect the craftsmanship.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  15. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  16. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  17. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  18. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  19. This is shorthand for a convent school. Many schools like these were attached to a convent and run by the nuns who lived there. The student population typically consisted of primarily girls. Since she knows her rich friend from school, it is possible that Mathilde's friend acquired her wealth and status through marriage.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  20. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  21. 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 is undistinguished, unambitious, and unlikely to rise much higher in civil employment.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  22. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  23. When Maupassant was writing, the term "oriental" was used to refer to any culture, region, or state located to the physical east of Europe, the Mediterranean, and generally lands east of the Christian world at the time. Mathilde uses it simply to refer to her desire for exotic and expensive possessions.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  24. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  25. This is a crucial point in the story. The husband and wife make the decision not to admit that Mathilde has lost the borrowed necklace but to instead try to replace it. Mathilde's desire to keep up appearances has put them in a precarious situation. Now they must choose between risking social ruin by telling the truth or ruining themselves financially in order to maintain those same appearances. The Loisel's dishonesty ultimately sets off a chain of events that drastically alters their lives.

    — William Delaney
  26. Upon realizing the necklace is missing, the Loisels stop talking and just stare at each other. They both realize the trouble they are in, and they have no need to describe it in words. Maupassant therefore does not try to describe their trouble in words, either. The silence is more expressive. Losing a diamond necklace would not be catastrophic to the real owner of the item, but the Loisels are not the owners and their own economic situation is fairly modest.

    — William Delaney
  27. "The Necklace" is reminiscent of the fairy tale "Cinderella." The heroine in the fairy tale could not go to the ball because she needed all the accoutrements her Fairy Godmother provided. Both stories deal with the idea of outward appearance dictating the perceptions of others, but while Cinderella was humble and gracious, Mathilde feels entitled to the gown and jewels.

    — William Delaney
  28. In the original French version of the story, the husband does not say "Ah, the good soup!" but "Ah, le bon pot-a-feu!" Pot-au-feu is a particular beef stew that is one of the most celebrated dishes in France and an essential part of French family cuisine.

    — William Delaney
  29. Mathilde is not weeping because of the gown; rather, she is crying because she is married to a man with such humble values and aspirations. Monsieur Loisel undoubtedly thinks he is fortunate to have such a beautiful and charming wife, but she brings terrible misfortune into his life. Just as she is married to the wrong man, he is married to the wrong woman.

    — William Delaney
  30. Guy de Maupassant was strongly influenced by his uncle, the famous French author Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880). Mathilde Loisel in "The Necklace" sounds very much like the heroine of Flaubert's best-known novel, Madame Bovary. Flaubert's influence on his nephew was extremely powerful. He would not allow Maupassant to publish until he felt satisfied with his writing. Flaubert is known as the leading exponent of literary realism in France. Maupassant's story can be seen as an example of literary realism, which is largely a reaction against Romanticism. The main characteristic Emma Bovary and Mathilde Loisel have in common is dissatisfaction with their boring lives, including their boring husbands. "The Necklace" can be read as a criticism of romanticism.

    — William Delaney
  31. Mr. Loisel gets a free invitation to the Minister of Public Instruction's ball. Mathilde, who is very concerned with appearances, insists on buying a new gown. Despite the Loisel's economic situation, Mathilde is willing to spend an irresponsible amount of money to appear wealthier at the ball. This indicates that she is more concerned with the appearance of wealth than actually being fiscally responsible.

    — William Delaney
  32. Mathilde Loisel feels cheated by life and believes she deserved to be born wealthy. This leads her to feel dissatisfied with her comfortable, if not always elegant, life. However, rather than accepting her situation and learning to be content with what she has, Mathilde instead daydreams about luxuries and allows her jealous nature to alienate her from her wealthier friends. She does not attempt to earn the regard she craves with genuine effort. Instead, she believes that she is entitled to admiration and luxury on account of being born beautiful and charming.

    — William Delaney
  33. Madame Loisel is possibly described as prettier than any other woman present because she is still so young. Most of the guests would belong to an older generation. The husbands would be middle-aged men who held important positions in the world, and their wives would be in approximately in the same age category. The women would all be wearing more expensive clothing, but Mathilde's youth and natural beauty would more than rival their artificial elegance.

    — William Delaney
  34. The original French is sur sa robe montante. She is wearing one of those dresses which cover the neck almost to the chin. She is improvising by fastening the necklace around this high collar, but she can see how it will look when she is wearing a low-cut dress at the ball. The necklace will call attention to her beautiful neck, throat and bosom. Although Mathilde has never owned expensive jewelry, she has an instinct about such things and has undoubtedly imagined wearing all sorts of distinctive jewelry while indulging in her fantasies about the privileged life she felt born to enjoy.

    — William Delaney
  35. Maupassant doesn't waste words. He provides the wardrobe with a mirror so that Mathilde can try on the jewels in front of it without the author having to explain where the mirror is located. The large jewel box is an eloquent way of showing that Madame Forestier must be quite rich. There is no other description of this friend's home, but readers can imagine that it is spacious and sumptuously furnished in the fashion of the period.

    — William Delaney
  36. This description of Mathilde Loisel may call to mind the often-quoted lines from Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard":

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
    The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

    — William Delaney
  37. In addition to being stunned at the realization that she had sacrificed her youth and beauty, Mathilde Loisel must have been mortified to realize, in retrospect, that some of the men who danced with her, as well as some of the women who were watching her with envy, knew that her diamond necklace was a fake.

    — William Delaney
  38. Maupassant employs vibrant imagery throughout the story. This is a technique designed to make a story more vivid and real in order to draw readers into the setting. Here he is appealing to the reader's sense of taste by mentioning the "delicious dishes" of trout and quail wings. The passage is also full of visual descriptions, such as the color of the trout or the "strange birds flying in the midst of a fairy forest." Mathilde's fantasy showcases her disastifaction with her station as she instead conjures up images of decadent food and rich surroundings to replace her soiled tablecloth and common cuisine.

    — William Delaney
  39. Guy de Maupassant was also heavily influenced by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. What Maupassant says about women here seems to come directly from Schopenhauer's cynical essay "On Women," in which the German philosopher quotes Napoleon as saying: "Les femmes n'ont pas de rang," which could be translated as "Women have neither caste nor rank." That is to say, a poor girl can marry a rich man and rise into the upper class if she has "beauty, grace and charm."

    — William Delaney
  40. This choice of words suggests that the weather outside is extremely cold--especially at four o'clock in the morning. Madame Loisel was anxious to put on her wraps, and she leaves in a hurry before the other women in their "costly furs" could see her in "the modest wraps of common life" and possibly ridicule her for wearing such cheap attire.

    — William Delaney
  41. The wraps the women wore to the ball would not have been long coats or shawls but garments long enouigh to cover their bare necks, backs, shoulders and arms. This suggests that most of the women, including Mme. Loisel, were following the current fashion in wearing gowns that revealed a great deal of flesh above the bosom. It also explains why Mme. Loisel was so anxious to borrow that diamond necklace from her friend Mme. Forestier. The necklace would show to its best advantage against her bare chest, and in turn her beautiful neck would show to its best advantage against the necklace. However, she certainly would need something warm to cover her decolletage when she went outside, because the ball was being held on January 18th, which was well into winter.

    — William Delaney
  42. It seems odd that a wealthy woman like Mme. Forestier would own a necklace made of paste--a phony necklace. There is perhaps a suggestion of some secret guilt in her past. In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes is trying to bargain with the blackmailer Milverton in behalf of Lady Eva Blackwell. Milverton refuses to lower his demand for seven thousand pounds for some incriminating letters. He rejects Holmes' assertion that Lady Eva doesn't have that much money. He predicts tragedy unless she comes up with the full amount, and says: "And all because she will not find a beggarly sum which she could get by turning her diamonds into paste." Perhaps this was a common way for wealthy women to raise money without their husbands' knowledge. Mme. Forestier would have had to keep the phony necklace and wear it occasionally for her husband to see that she still had it.

    — William Delaney