The Necklace

by: Guy de Maupassant

Monsieur Loisel

Monsieur Loisel’s acceptance and contentment differ considerably from Mathilde’s emotional outbursts and constant dissatisfaction, and although he never fully understands his wife, he does his best to please her. When he comes home bearing the invitation to the party, he expects Mathilde to be excited and is shocked when she is devastated. He cannot understand why Mathilde will not wear flowers to the party in lieu of expensive jewelry—in his view, that they cannot afford expensive jewelry is simply a fact of their life, not something to be railed against. When Monsieur Loisel tries to appease Mathilde, he does so blindly, wanting only to make her happy. When she declares that she cannot attend the party because she has nothing to wear, he gives her money to purchase a dress. While she complains she has no proper jewelry, he urges her to visit Madame Forestier to borrow some. When she dances all night at the party, he dozes in a coat room and allows her to enjoy herself.

Monsieur Loisel’s eagerness and willingness to please Mathilde becomes his downfall when she loses the necklace. He is the one to venture back into the cold night to search for the necklace in the streets, even though he is already undressed and has to be at work in a few short hours. He is the one who devises a plan for purchasing a replacement necklace and orchestrates the loans and mortgages that help them pay for it. Although this decision costs him ten years of hard work, he does not complain or imagine an alternate fate. It is as though his desires do not even exist—or, at the very least, his desires are meaningless if they stand in the way of Mathilde’s. The money he gives her for a dress had been earmarked for a gun, but he sacrifices this desire without a word—just as he mutely sacrifices any hope of happiness after he buys the necklace. Rather than force Mathilde to be accountable for her actions, he protects her, ultimately giving up his life so that she can relish her one moment of well-dressed happiness.