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In the nineteenth century, there were two great French realist novelists. One is Gustave Flaubert. In Flauberts Madame Bovary, Emma Rouault, who is a beautiful young lady, lives in a shameless lifestyle driven by her vanity and finally dies of it. As a protage of Flaubert, Maupassant also wrote an outstanding story about a vain young lady Mathilde Loisel in his short work "The necklace". While a casual reading of author's "The Necklace" may overlook the importance of the contradictory between the reality and the life Mathilde thinks she deserves, a close analysis reveals that the contradiction is crucial to a proper understanding the story.
To begin with, the contradiction reveals itself early in the story when Mathilde borrows a necklace from her rich friend, Madame Forestier. In fact, Mathilde is not wealthy enough to be a member of the social class which she believes she deserves in, but she just tries all she can do to polish up how her life looks like. Though married with a low-paid clerk, Mathilde still lives in her dream. She feels she deserves a better life standard for her beauty. Therefore, it is no doubt that the party is an excellent opportunity for her to reach the victory-connecting the upper-class-like appearance with her real life. As a result of that, she desires to have luxurious jewelries with her when she appears at the party, even she cannot afford it. Though it is just a beginning of the tragedy, Mathilde has already showed her denying from her real life, which indicates the misery in the future.
When Mathilde gets the jewelry she desires, the contradiction is further intensified when Mathilde goes to the party. Wearing the necklace borrowed, she deceives everybody with her illusory wealth and class. In those few hours, she is so happy. However, after the party, she is so covetous about the fur coats women are wearing, which highlights her shabbiness. It is predictable that she will just get temporary happiness even if she receives a same fur coat, because she must start to covert something more luxurious. The endless desire finally causes Mathilde's collapse. It is obvious that Mathilde's coveting has already been a part of her life just like breathing.
Unfortunately, Mathilda even does not have the chance to covet more since she loses the necklace. To pay for the diamonds, the Loisels have to borrow money from usurers. The contradiction is getting more outstanding when Mathilde has worked toughly for 10 years to pay for the replacement. The horrible irony of the fact is that she spends years paying off a diamond necklace which is actually a fake one. What to be more dramatic is that Madame Forestier does not tell Mathilde the authenticity of the necklace when rents it. It is obvious that Madame Forestier is also trying to give the illusion that she is wealthier than what she actually is. In addition, Mathilde is so wild with joy when she can obtain the jewelry of dream so easily that she has never doubted whether the diamonds may be unauthentic..The combination of several different illusions finally results that Mathilde's beauty, which is used to be her only pride, disappears as a result of her ten years of labor life.
Sorrow of the ten-year penance is not the resolution of Mathilde's miserable life yet. Maupassant further demonstrates that the pipe dream is the central conflict of The Necklace by making it the focus of the climax. The story reaches its climax when Madame Forestier says the necklace she rented Matilda is a fake one. The beautiful but worthless necklace represents the split between the reality and the life Mathilde coverts. In all, Mathilde does not reach the life she thinks she deserves, and she loses her best time of life. As a center of the tragedy, the necklace causes the protagonist's downfall, which suggests that one's life can be totally ruined by denying the reality.
This short work actually does not have a real resolution. The story stops abruptly at the climax. It is a typicalÂ "O. Henry" ending. O. Henry is a well-known writer for his sudden turning at endings of stories. In "The Necklace," the surprising ending breaks the illusion into pieces, suggesting that all of Mathilde's misery were avoidable if she does not run after her endless desire. Losing the necklace had seemed to be an incidental mistake, but it is actually Mathilde's failure to be truthful to face her real life. For some reason, Mathilde must believe that she is a martyr because of her huge sacrifice, but actually she is not. As a reasonable result of her greed, her sacrifice is just as worthless as the necklace. This shocking realization overturns Mathilde's ten-year penance and reveals her future-even though her debts are now repaid-will be none too rosy. There is only the taste of the bitter vanity.