In a world where minute differences separate the surprisingly similar characteristics of people, perhaps the most noticeable differences people have are not a matter of outward appearances but rather the unique person within, that makes the world such a weird and wonderful place. In the beginning of the stories of Veronica and The Necklace the two authors give us a glimpse of the imperceptible similarity as well as the easily discernable differences which separate the two women. Furthermore, both writers frequently use cryptic methods to symbolize women, these being far more complex to analyse.
Firstly, in the texts Veronica and The Necklace, the men are shown to behave differently, and the ways they are represented vary hugely. In Veronica, her father is described as being abusive, stern, and even brutal towards her. This is revealed when Okeke mentions “I would lie awake listening to her screams”. The author Adewala-Maja Pearce illustrates to the readers that her father was violent towards her and what he did was a microcosm of life in Africa as a whole, where African men are more powerful and authoritative than women in general. During that period, and even today, Africa was a heavily male dominated continent, where women don’t share the equal rights e.g. they are mostly stay-at-home wives who are not allowed to work. This is demonstrated in the text Veronica where Okeke goes on to achieve bigger and better things, whereas Veronica doesn’t really change much. On the other hand, as the story progresses in both Veronica and The Necklace both women are very similar people. The women in both texts are portrayed as being “hardworking” yet their “work” was limited to shopping, cooking, and household chores. Furthermore, in both stories the men are seen as being the breadwinners e.g. Okeke leaves and fulfills his potential, and Madame Loisel’s husband is also the person doing the work and earning the money. Moreover, the society in which both the stories are portrayed have several similarities, such as the limited jobs women are allowed to do, and the idea that women have to stay at home while the men are the ones supporting the family. To conclude, in both stories the men : Okeke, Madame Loisel’s husband, and Veronica’s husband, are both depicted as the breadwinners, as is usual in most African countries, and the wives are given the more stereotypical ‘motherly job’, which is to stay home and wait for the husband to return at night.
Secondly, in the text, Veronica is seen as being quite content and enjoying her way of life, even though her existence isn’t lavish or luxurious. Conversely, Madame Loisel has a much higher quality of life with probably access to more money than Veronica, yet she still remains unhappy and discontent with her plight. This is evident when Veronica tells Okeke “God has blessed us with a son. Is that not enough?” Conversely, Madame Loisel, instead of being delighted when her husband tells her they were invited to a ball, declares “Only I have no clothes, and in consequence I cannot go to this party. Give your card to some colleague whose wife has a better outfit than I.” The reason why Veronica is happy while Madame Loisel remains miserable is because the societies in which they lived are so strikingly different. Africa was a continent dominated by men where women were expected to stay at home, acting almost like the maid of the family. This could be directly linked to the reason why she chose to decline Okeke’s offer of moving to the city for a better life. Whereas, in France, women also stayed at home but they were more like trophies that a man would display, provide for, and pamper. Moreover, the story The Necklace proves to us that even the least daring and ungrateful of people can complete a near impossible u-turn and become much more appreciative of what they have. This corresponds with the core question of whether the two women behave so differently because of their society, or because they chose to lead different lifestyles. It could also be said that the reason Madame Loisel was so materialistic was because she wanted to fit in with the society of affluent French people. This is evident when she is close friends with someone who is much wealthier than her and she possibly sustains this relationship because of her friend’s place in society. Finally, in both texts the women were free to make their own decisions but in the end were suppressed by their societies.
An alternative theme regarding a similar feature is the main question of ‘perseverance vs change’. It is evident in the text Veronica that she never mentions out loud her aspirations to become successful and move out of the village. This might be because she doesn’t have any ambition, but is more likely because of the fact that she is too pragmatic to consider following her dream. Contrastingly, as the story progress, de Maupassant shows the reader that Madame Loisel becomes much more like Veronica; she is seen to be increasingly hardworking, less whiny, and more content with what she has. Nonetheless, she is still very different that Veronica; she still has a formidable ambition to pay off all her debt and does everything she can to make sure she is successful. Madame Loisel puts all her beauty aside when the author states “She washed dishes, wearing down her pink nails.” This shows a change of attitude as she understands it is a sacrifice she has to make to fulfill her quest of paying off her debt. She becomes very similar to Veronica as, increasingly, her lifestyle begins to resemble Veronica’s. In Adewala-Maja-Pearce’s Veronica, the author tells the reader that Veronica becomes extremely persistent in her trust that she has everything she needs. This is demonstrated when Veronica says “What am I going to do in the city?” Although she says that she has no qualifications, deep down inside she probably knows she would be able to find a job, but still refuses to leave. Ultimately, Veronica and Madame Loisel chose different paths, but it shows that the differences were also influenced by the culture and place they lived in.
Evidently, the most obvious feature here is that Madame Loisel’s lifestyle is much comfortable than Veronica, and yet she still isn’t satisfied. Clearly, the way of life that Madame Loisel led was very extravagant when compared to that of Veronica. However, being wealthier does not mean that Madame Loisel was more satisfied. This is reiterated when the author says “She had a friend who was richâ€¦for she was so unhappy afterwards.” Madame Loisel was not grateful for what she had and always wanted more. On the other hand, Veronica was essentially content with her way of life and her family; she was also seen to be forgiving towards her siblings who left her. This is shown when she says “They have their own lives to lead.” Veronica is portrayed as the consummate underachiever, she is given the chance to go to the city and fulfill her potential but she still chooses happiness over success. In the end, I think that even though wealth does not necessarily mean more happiness, it does make life easier than living in poverty.
Ultimately, in both texts, the women are represented as being very determined and hardworking; they still persevered in the end, even though they are both faced with a great deal of hardship. Veronica is seen to be very loyal towards her father even though she was beaten when she was young. Similarly, Madame Loisel also is seen to transform herself from an excessively materialistic and selfish person into a humble and down to earth one. Madame Loisel and Veronica are very alike in many ways as they are both faced with adversity,but conversely, they are also quite dissimilar. Madame Loisel is reluctant to change but when the circumstances demands it she is willing to, however, Veronica chooses not to change even though it would certainly have been possible for her for her to do so and eventually might have prevented her death. Overall, I think women are represented as being money-oriented, but only because society influences them, However when they have their own choices, they are seen as strong-willed and extremely capable.
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