Over the years, the history of women has changed drastically. They have gained voting rights, work everyday jobs just like men do; they can even run for president. But during older times, women were but a mere shadow. They would stay home, prepare meals for their families, and do work around the house. During the nineteenth century in France, women could not really work for themselves or make any money for themselves. Guy de Maupassant is influenced by these limitations in his writing. “The Necklace”, is a story about a woman named Mathilde Loisel and her struggles with happiness as she craves for a life of extravagance. Her low social status led her into a life of misery and dissatisfaction and her pursuit of a dream life cost her more than she could ever know. French society imposed many limitations on women’s opportunities such as achieving social standing and class, having a job to work for their own money, and being satisfied.
In the nineteenth century, social standing and class was important in French society. A wealthy aristocrat marrying a poor peasant was practically impossible. In “The Necklace”, Mathilde dreamed to be wealthy and her only option would be to marry someone rich, but nobody of the upper class would want to marry someone so low in status, so she ended up marrying a middle-class worker. And she was far too poor to pay a dowry. She mentions her struggle in the story by saying, “She had no dowry, no hopes…being married by a rich and distinguished man, so she slipped into marriage with a minor civil servant at the Ministry of Education,” (Maupassant 333). In this excerpt, she seems very troubled that she can never be married into a rich family, and she ends up getting married to a middle-class clerk, who genuinely cares about her wellbeing. But even in their relationship, she still fawns over the lifestyles of the upper class. Despite them living a decent life with him working hard every day, she still feels like there is something missing.
Women did not have many job opportunities compared to men. They would stay home and do basic labor, or they had minor indoor occupations. Although Mathilde cooks and cleans, she has a maid that does basic labor for them. But as the story progresses, she cannot afford the maid anymore, so she lets her go and does the house work on her own. Maupassant mentions this by saying, “She did the laundry, washing shirts and dishcloths which she hung on a line to dry; she took the garbage down to the street every morning, and carried water upstairs,” (Maupassant 337). To pay for her greed, this is some of the things she did. She let her maid go and began to do all of the tedious work she never thought she would do herself. She dropped from the middle class to the lower class to pay off the debt she put herself into. Now, her life is worse than it was before, and she cannot do anything to change that.
Greed plays a big factor in Maupassant’s story, and it is the cause of the main turning points of the story. Greed is a corrupting characteristic in every human being. Mathilde believes she deserves a more lavish life. When the opportunity comes for Mathilde to enjoy a life out of poverty, she is pessimistic and demanding. Maupassant portrays this aspect in the story when Mathilde complains, “I hate not having a single jewel, not one stone, to wear. I shall look so dowdy. I’d almost rather not go to the party,” (Maupassant 335). She is very ignorant over the fact that she got invited to such a high-class event and is concerned over what other people will think of her. Her husband also mentions that getting an invite was not easy, but he found a way. And he also gave the money he was saving for himself to her so that she could find a beautiful dress for the ball.
Throughout history, women faced discrimination in different cultures and times. Mathilde mind was set in a fantasy, which caused great distress to the reality around her. She was ungrateful and did not acknowledge the blessings she acquired which made her spiral down into a déclassé lifestyle. She cannot pull herself out of major debt because of her inconveniences and her disrespect to the idea of the lower class.