The Necklace

by: Guy de Maupassant

Symbols

The Necklace

The necklace, beautiful but worthless, represents the power of perception and the split between appearances and reality. Mathilde borrows the necklace because she wants to give the appearance of being wealthy; Madame Forestier does not tell her up front that the necklace is fake, perhaps because she, too, wants to give the illusion of being wealthier than she actually is. Because Mathilde is so envious of Madame Forestier and believes her to be wealthy, she never doubts the necklace’s authenticity—she expects diamonds, so diamonds are what she perceives. She enters willingly and unknowingly into this deception, and her complete belief in her borrowed wealth allows her to convey an appearance of wealth to others. Because she believes herself rich for one night, she becomes rich in others’ eyes. The fact that the necklace is at the center of the deception that leads to Mathilde’s downfall suggests that only trouble can come from denying the reality of one’s situation.