How To Love Lit Podcast

Guy de Maupassant - The Necklace - The Master Of The Short Story At His Best!

June 4, 2022

Guy de Maupassant - The Necklace - The Master Of The Short Story At His Best!

 

Hi, I’m Christy Shriver and we’re here to discuss books that have changed the world and have changed us. 

 

I’m Garry Shriver and this is the How to Love Lit Podcast.  Today we are going to journey to France and meet one of the greatest short story writers in the world- he influenced O Henry, Chekov, Kate Chopin and many others- this would be Guy de Maupassant.  And the story we will be reading and discussing is his most famous story, “The Necklace”. 

 

Guy de Maupaussant didn’t live very long.  He died right before turning 43, but fortunately during his life he got to enjoy financial success and even fame.  He wrote over 300 stories, six novels, three travel books and a bunch of poetry.   

 

So, let’s date him exactly.  He was born in 1850 and died in 1893.  If we put that in historical context in the America’s, we were living through the American Civil War.  Europe in general was experiencing the good and bad of the height of the Industrial Revolution(we talked  about that briefly when we talked about Charles Dickens but also William Blake-some of the excesses were pretty terrible and were felt all over Europe), but France in particular under the leadership of Emperor Napoleon 3rd, made great strides to modernization.  France led the world in many ways.  Unfortunately this all came crashing down to some degree with Emperor Napoleon III, reluctantly really, led France into the Franco-Prussian war.  As with every other war, it was an atrocity, although we don’t talk about it much today.  Among other things, it changed the landscape of Europe and the. European balance of power from then on.  

 

Yeah, I guess I’ve heard of the Franco-Prussian war, but I can’t say I understand it very well.   

 

This war was between France and what is now primarily what we call Germany.  However, this isn’t exactly accurate because our maps have changed so much since those days.  The German confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia defeated Napoleon III and France’s Second Empire. Napoleon the 3rd, would be the last emperor of France. Guy de Maupassant volunteered in that war and pulled from his experiences in the war for a lot of his stories.   

 

I’m sure MauPaussant’s war experiences were one big influence and subject of his writing, but certainly not the only one.  De Maupassant observed  all levels of French society starting with prostitutes to soldiers and upward on the social scale.  He was very interested in social struggle and in some ways a little cynical about the whole thing.   A lot of his stories convey a sense of hopelessness really- trying to fight fate.  Which in some ways is interesting in light of the fact that he did financially and professionally well for himself in spite of some very difficult obstables not the least of which is his parents fairly traumatic divorce.  He grew up in Normandy which is in the North of France. His mother filed for and got divorced from his dad for his being a womanizer- 

 

 a woman being granted a divorce was unusual for that time.   

 

Well, it was, and Guy was raised by his mom.  He went to Catholic school which apparently wasn’t a positive experience, and he orchestrated his own expulsion.  Eventually, he moved to Paris, and his mother introduced him to a man who would be the single greatest influence in his life, outside of his mother, Gustave Flaubert. Flaubert was famous and he was a writer.  His most famous book- Madame Bovary-maybe one of the most infuriating books I’ve ever read- of course that’s intentional.  is beautifully written and admired as a powerful work concerned with human frailty .   

 

Well, Flaubert introduced de Maupassant to other famous writers and off his career started.  He was prolific and well-received.  After a few years, he was able to quit his day job and live off his writing and in a high style. 

 

Yes, amd he apparently inherited his father’s taste in women, for he too has been labeled by history as “a womanizer.”  He was single, had many relationships: these included relationships prostitutes all the way to many other women of high rank including countesses.  He even had three children with one lover.  Unfortunatetly, his lifestyle ultimately resulted in his contracting syphilis.  As his syphilis progressed his writing got more and more shocking because he himself was losing his sense of reality.  Eventually he became convinced that flies were devouring his brain.  He tried to shoot himself, then he rammed a paper knife into his throat.  This got him taken to an asylym where he stayed until he died just a few months later.   

 

Wow.  That ending is somewhat shocking.  

 

Well, it truly is and perhaps ironic that a writer so respected for his ability to see real life for what it really was, ended his life without a real notion of reality.   

 

Well, Tolstoy, the Russian writer found him worthy enough of a writer to write a very long and complimentary piece titled “The Works of Guy de Maupassant”.  He claimed that de  MauPaussant could see with his own eyes things as they were, see their meaning, see the contradictions of life, which are hidden from others and vividly present them.   

 

Yes, and that in a nutshell is basically what what he’s famous for.  At that time, many writers in France, and this includes Flaubert, de MauPassant’s mentor, but also others most notably Emile Zola, were moving away from a romanticized way of writing about the world towards a move gritty realistic way.   The trend was to portray life as it really was- we call this realism.  Of course, we saw this with Ibsen and the theater.  In Ibsen’s plays he also  portrayed real life, but Ibsen was working in the theater.  We saw this with Chopin.  But the French were doing this first and most notably in the plastic arts, like painting. One notable and famous early example was a politically controversial artist by the name of Gustave Coubert.  He would paint peasants, which wasn’t that big of a deal, but in his work, tney weren’t out in some field happily picking wheat.  They were miserable.  He was showing that life was hard—people didn’t like that in their paintings.  They wanted the romantized versions showing how beautiful life was., Guy de Maupasasnt was in this vein.  He didn’t want to make people or life look like they were better than they really were.  However, de Maupassant wasn’t just a realist in the sense that he wanted to portray real life, he extended this idea further into a branch which we call naturalism.  Now, I know I’m throwing out a lot of -isms and that can get boring, but if you understand what these guys were doing it actually makes reading the stories more interesting.  De Maupassant was of the mindset that nature held a very large sway on your agency in the world.  In other words, it’s not really possible to pull yourself up by your bootstraps- the powers of this world are going to win.  He saw this in evolutionary terms- This is survival of the fittest type thinking.  The strongest survive, the weakest die and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  God is not coming to your rescue; there is no prince charming that will swoop down.  Nobody is coming to save you.  John Steinbeck thought like this too and we see that in Of Mice and Men.   

 

That kind of writing is pretty dark.   

 

Well, it certainly can be.  But our story today isn’t as dark as Of Mice and Men; no one dies, but we do see that people are what they are, and they are not always good.  They are selfish and often stupid.  Also, they will be products of their environment.  It’s not likely that you will rewrite your story to overcome your circumstances- not really- most people will succumb to their environments.  De Maupassant said this about what he wanted to do, He wanted to “write the history of the heart, soul and mind in their normal state.”  His goal was not “telling a story or entertaining us or touching our hearts but at forcing us to think and understand the deeper, hidden meaning of events.” 

 

So, let’s do it….this story, “The Necklace” is set in Paris sometime during the 1800s.   

 

 

 

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family. their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land. 

 

De MauPaussant immediately situates our protagonist in the social system of her day. During this period of European history, classes were very stratified.  There was the highest class, there were the peasants, but because of the Industrial Revolution, there was a growing middle class- but even the  middle class was stratified. The woman in this story, is from a family of artisans.  That’s one class up from peasants but not prestigious or powerful by any definition.  Artisans work with their hands. Bottom line, our protagonist is born poor; however, because she is so gorgeous she is able to have a little upward mobility.  Her beauty, according to our story “puts the slum girl on a level with the higest lady of the land.”  Her husband, on the other hand, is a bureaucrat- that’s better than a bricklayer of other working class people, but certainly not high ranking.   

 

I do notice a little editorializing on the narrator’s part in that he comments that women live outside of the class system since they cannot work.  They have only their physical attributes, their elegance and their social smarts as a way to improve their lives, NOT their ability to work for a living. 

 

Indeed, and what makes this girl upset is that she thinks she is better looking and basically better than her husband because she’s beautiful.  Her beauty, in her mind, means she DESERVES something in this life.  She deserves luxury, and since he can’t provide that, she suffers.  She’s tormented use deMaupassant’s words.  Let’s read how she thought of her life.  

 

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings. 

When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken. 

She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after. 

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery. 

It’s a very long description describing her “misery.”  It’s also a long description of the things she imagines she deserves.  And again, we see our narrator communicating through the subtext that maybe, this woman’s perspective does not align with her reality.  She describes how bad her house is..but notice she has a MAID!!!  So, obviously, she is better than some people.  Also, she complains that she doesn’t have elegant food over her dinner, so obviously she’s not starving.   

 

If you listen to how she behaves it’s pitifully over-dramatic.  Listen to the language- it is as if she were in a war zone, but the reality is, she’s not as well off as her friend friend from her old school days.  The text states the ONLY thing she loves is clothes and jewels.  She weeps for whole days with grief, regret, despair and misery, but what is she weeping over?  We are set up to question this woman’s priorities and perspectives. 

One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand. 

" Here's something for you," he said. 

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words: 

"The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th." 

Instead of being delighted, as her-husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring: 

"What do you want me to do with this?" 

"Why, darling, I thought you'd be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Every one wants one; it's very select, and very few go to the clerks. You'll see all the really big people there." 

She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: "And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?" 

He had not thought about it; he stammered: 

"Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me...." 

He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth. 

"What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you?" he faltered. 

But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wet cheeks: 

"Nothing. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall." 

He was heart-broken. 

"Look here, Mathilde," he persisted. :What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?" 

She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk. 

At last she replied with some hesitation: 

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

He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays. 

Nevertheless he said: "Very well. I'll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nice dress with the money." 

 

Again, the focus of our story is Madame Mathilde Loisel.  Her husband, so proud of himself, has scored for his miserable and despairing wife a very impressive and selective invitation to go to a ball, an event for elite people.  She weeps for days because she doesn’t have a certain life, and he’s finally found something he thinks his wife will appreciate.   What follows is a dialogue between the two where we see Mathilde very obviously condescend to and degrade her husband. She also manipulates him to get something she wants.  She says this, 

 

Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall." 

He was heart-broken. 

 

In other words, give this invitation that you think I’ll like to a better man than you.  Find a bigger man who can take care of his wife better than you can take care of yours.  This is passive aggressive and accusasatory and it  has the desired effect.  She breaks his heart.  He wants to know how much it would cost to satisfy her, and we notice that she takes her time before responding.  She asks for exactly the amount he has set aside for a hunting trip- we aren’t told this is a coincidence, but we have been led to believe this is a self-centered manipulative woman.  He gives her the whole thing.   

 

 

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

"What's the matter with you? You've been very odd for the last three days." 

"I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear," she replied. "I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party." 

 

Again- the hyperbolic language demonstrates her total contempt and ingratitude for her husband.  She’s miserable because she doesn’t have jewels.  Remember- clothes and jewels are the only things she loves. She’s humiliated, and she looks to her husband to problem-solve for her.   He’s going to recommend she go see her rich friend- which she does.   

 

"Wear flowers," he said. "They're very smart at this time of the year. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses." 

She was not convinced. 

"No . . . there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women." 

"How stupid you are!" exclaimed her husband. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that." 

She uttered a cry of delight. 

"That's true. I never thought of it." 

Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble. 

Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took up a large box, brought it to Madame Loisel, opened it, and said: 

"Choose, my dear." 

First she saw some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror, hesitating, unable to make up her mind to leave them, to give them up. She kept on asking: 

"Haven't you anything else?" 

"Yes. Look for yourself. I don't know what you would like best." 

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetousIy. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon her high dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself. 

Then, with hesitation, she asked in anguish: 

"Could you lend me this, just this alone?" 

"Yes, of course." 

She flung herself on her friend's breast, embraced her frenziedly, and went away with her treasure. 

 

Again notice the words, her heart beats “covetously”.  Her hands tremble.  She’s in ecstacy.  She embraces her friend in a frenzy.  

 

 The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her. 

She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart. 

 

What is interesting about this account of the party is that it’s so short.  Her delusions of gradeur at the beginning were described in more words.  She’s a hit.  She’s the most beautiful woman there and by far.  All the men want to dance with her.  The Minister himself notices her.  She is “drunk with pleasure”.  All she thinks about is her triumph, her success the “universal homage and admiration”. Her presence at the ball is a complete victory.  In other words, she gets everything she wanted.  Except, it only lasts two short paragraphs.  

 

She left about four o'clock in the morning. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room, in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away, so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs. 

Loisel restrained her. 

"Wait a little. You'll catch cold in the open. I'm going to fetch a cab." 

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended-the staircase. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab; they began to look for one, shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance. 

They walked down towards the Seine, desperate and shivering. At last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight. 

 

Notice how much attention is paid to the fact that she’s ashamed.  This paragraph is just as long as the entire party.  She races out the door because she’s ashamed of her coat.  Her husband literally tries to restrain her, but she’s in a rush.  She shouts, she walks, she’s out pacing in the streets ashamed of her “shabbiness.” 

 

It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. It was the end, for her. As for him, he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten. 

She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck! 

"What's the matter with you?" asked her husband, already half undressed. 

She turned towards him in the utmost distress. 

"I . . . I . . . I've no longer got Madame Forestier's necklace. . . ." 

He started with astonishment. 

"What! . . . Impossible!" 

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it. 

"Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?" he asked. 

"Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry." 

"But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall." 

"Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?" 

"No. You didn't notice it, did you?" 

"No." 

They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again. 

"I'll go over all the ground we walked," he said, "and see if I can't find it." 

And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought. 

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing. 

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies, everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him. 

 

Notice the juxtaposition here- after the necklace is lost, the husband takes the initiative to look for it.  He looks for it until 7am.  Matilde lays in bed.  He walks, he goes to the police, he goes to the newspapers, he offers a reward.  She does nothing. 

 

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe. 

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing. 

"You must write to your friend," he said, "and tell her that you've broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. That will give us time to look about us." 

She wrote at his dictation. 

 

By the end of a week they had lost all hope. 

Loisel, who had aged five years, declared: 

"We must see about replacing the diamonds." 

Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. He consulted his books. 

"It was not I who sold this necklace, Madame; I must have merely supplied the clasp." 

Then they went from jeweller to jeweller, searching for another necklace like the first, consulting their memories, both ill with remorse and anguish of mind. 

In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand. 

They begged the jeweller not to sell it for three days. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs, if the first one were found before the end of February. 

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow the rest. 

He did borrow it, getting a thousand from one man, five hundred from another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes of hand, entered into ruinous agreements, did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, risked his signature without even knowing it he could honour it, and, appalled at the agonising face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller's counter thirty-six thousand francs. 

 

By this point in the story, no one should have any respect for Matilde.  She has done nothing for herself.  We even find out that he has a pretty good inheritance from his father, and he spends the entirety of it to partially pay for this necklace his wife lost.  Listen to the language, he is appalled at the agonizing face of the future, at the lack misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture….it’s very inflated language- in fact, the sentence structure and contrasts very obviously with the language used to describe Matilde  in all of her glory.  The inflated misery will be as inflated as her momentary glory- except it will last into the infinite future. 

 

This stands out!  His misery is undeserved.  Her short-lived fabricated glory is undeserved.  He is grounded in his own reality; she does nothing to fix her problem; it is his to solve.   

 

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in a chilly voice: 

"You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it." 

She did not, as her friend had feared, open the case. If she had noticed the substitution, what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief? 

*** 

Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty.  

From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof. 

She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string; every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to get her breath. And, clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money. 

Every month notes had to be paid off, others renewed, time gained. 

Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant's accounts, and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page. 

And this life lasted ten years. 

 

At the beginning of the story, we see that she thought she was poor.  Now, she has come to know what real poverty looks like.  Now she is “glad like a poor woman.”   

At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer's charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest. 

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago, of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired. 

 

If you remember, this is how she started.  She was pretty but she was poor.  Now she’s poor and ugly, like everyone else who she thought she was better than. Even her dillusions have stopped.  All she has is the memory of her one moment of glory.  

 

What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save! 

One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive. 

Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not? 

She went up to her. 

"Good morning, Jeanne." 

The other did not recognise her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman. 

"But . . . Madame . . ." she stammered. "I don't know . . . you must be making a mistake." 

"No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel." 

Her friend uttered a cry. 

"Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed! . . ." 

"Yes, I've had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on your account." 

"On my account! . . . How was that?" 

"You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?" 

"Yes. Well?" 

"Well, I lost it." 

"How could you? Why, you brought it back." 

"I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realise it wasn't easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it's paid for at last, and I'm glad indeed." 

Madame Forestier had halted. 

"You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?" 

"Yes. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike." 

And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness. 

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands. 

"Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . .  

 

And of course the irony.  If you remember, irony is when things are opposite.  Here we have situational irony.  The situation is the opposite of what we should have expected.  And the story ends with an ellipsis…what happens next has no consequence.  The self-delusion, the self-serving nature, the lack of agency, all of it…was it her destiny, was it her personality, was it her society, de Maupassant ends with an ellipsis, but he has led us to his conclusion.   

 

If we go back to the essay Tolstoy wrote about Guy de Maupassant, this is what he had to say, 

 

There has hardly been another such an author, who thought so sincerely that all the good, the whole meaning of life was in woman, in love, and who with such force of passion described woman and the love of her from all sides, and there has hardly been another author, who with such clearness and precision has pointed out all the terrible sides of the same phenomenon, which to him seemed to be the highest, and one that gives the greatest good to men. The more he comprehended this phenomenon, the more did it become unveiled; the shrouds fell off, and all there was left was its terrible consequences and its still more terrible reality.- Tolstoy 

 

Oh, I feel like for me to comment here would be swimming in dangerous waters. 

 

HA!  Yes, it seems that Guy de Maupassant loved women passionately in every way until the day he died, but he was a realist; he was a naturalist.  Humanity is what it is- both men and women are equally human, and he felt no need to romanticize our essence.  It’s kind of refreshing, really.  

 

Well, we hope you enjoyed this very famous short story by one of our world’s greatest writers of short stories.  Thank you for being with us today.  If you enjoy our work, please like us on social media.  Give us a review on your podcast app, but most importantly share our podcast with a friend.  That’s how we grow. 

 

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