51 pages 1 hour read

Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1884

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Character Analysis

Mathilde Loisel

Mathilde Loisel, the story’s protagonist, is a young and beautiful woman living in a small Parisian apartment with her husband. Despite her charm and beauty, she is poor and resents her birth into the working class. She often dreams of living in splendor. She loves material things and social status and feels that she deserves the best in life. Despite her desire for these things, she has no hope for significant wealth, recognition, or success, leaving her a rather hollow person, incapable of true happiness.

Vanity is another significant element in her character, as Mathilde often focuses on how people see her. She wants to be envied and given attention, as these things help her feel successful and happy. This vanity will offer her no lasting happiness, of course, especially since her desire to be noticed leads her to borrow the necklace that results in financial ruin. Mathilde’s focus on things that are superficial and shallow does not lead to the life she dreams of; in fact, it leads to the opposite.

Mathilde is a dynamic character in the sense that her fall into poverty forces her to change. From the vain woman she was at the beginning of the story, she becomes a woman who works to support herself and maintain her household.