In every society there are things that are normal for that particular society, there is always a system to how things work within a community. Mostly, societal norms involve cliques or different groups of people. These groups can be determined by race, class or attitudes within a culture. Guy De Maupassant tells an ironic story of an unsatisfied woman named Mathilde. She very plainly struggles with being where she is classified in her society. She gets a taste of being in a higher social class but needed more than what her husband was able to give her, her greediness got her into a sticky situation.
In the beginning of the story the author points out Mathilde’s enjoyment of luxuries and how happy it makes her. Mathilde does not see herself as privileged, even though she has servants working in her house. She views her life as a poor one and doesn’t seem to understand all the good things she actually has in her life. She didn’t feel like she was made for the life that she has, Mathilde felt as though she was meant for bigger things such as gallons of jewels and luxuries, she felt that it was what she deserved.
“She had no gowns, no jewels, no nothing. And she loves nothing but that. She felt made for that. She would have liked so much to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after.” It’s very clear to see that Mathilde is very insecure about herself and her lifestyle. It is no secret to her husband that she does not feel confident in what she has, so he does his best to get her invited to a party, and does get her invited even though it was very hard for him. When he surprises her with the invitation, she throws a fit and gets angry about the fact that she does not have a dress to wear to the event, and tells him to give the invitation away to someone else.
Being a good husband that he is, he gave her money, that he had been saving up to buy a gun, to buy a new gown to help satisfy her wants so that she would be able to go to the ball. Not many days before the party, Mathilde felt as though she was naked without some sort of jewel. Her husband told her to borrow something from her upper class friend. She decided upon a diamond necklace.
So then Mathilde went to the ball and had an amazing time, and then went home. When she got home she realized that she did not have the necklace anymore, it had fallen off. Her husband and her searched and searched yet could not find the necklace, and they had to buy a very expensive new one. She and her husband had to make some serious life changes after having to borrow money and use the husband’s money from his father to be able to pay for the necklace.
All the luxuries that they did have, such as maids and seemingly unnoticeable things to Mathilde, were gone. She had to clean her own house, do her own work, and finally after 10 years of being in the working class, they had paid off their debts. The irony of this story is the fact that after 10 years, she finds that the necklace she had lost was only 500 dollars and was fake after talking to her friend Madame Forestier.
The biggest lesson found in the story is do not be greedy. Mathilde was so in awe of a better lifestyle that it clouded her vision. She could have just been honest with her friend and told the friend about her losing it. Her and her husband would have still been in a higher class then she had spent the last 10 years in, even more satisfied with her life. However, it was a very important lesson that Mathilde needed to learn. It is strange to see that people would let something so silly as social class determine their happiness.
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