The Necklace

by

Guy de Maupassant

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The Mirror Symbol Icon

The mirror symbolizes Mathilde’s vanity and the importance she attaches to outward appearances. One of the few moments in the story in which Mathilde is truly happy is when she is standing in front of a mirror to admire herself wearing the necklace: “She placed it on her throat, against her high-necked dress, and remained ecstatic in front of her reflection.” Mathilde’s ecstasy upon seeing herself in the mirror recalls the story of Narcissus, who fell in love with his reflection and stared at it until he died. The mirror thus serves as a warning against vanity while also demonstrating that physical appearances are flat and without substance, like a reflection. In addition, the mirror reminds the reader that Mathilde’s appearance of wealth and status is an illusion: the next time Mathilde looks in a mirror the necklace is gone, as if by magic.

The Mirror Quotes in The Necklace

The The Necklace quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Mirror. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reality and Illusion Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Necklace published in 2003.
The Necklace Quotes

Madame Loisel looked first at some bracelets, then at a pearl necklace, then at a marvelously crafted Venetian cross made up of gold and precious stones. She tried the pieces on before the mirror, wavering, unsure whether to keep them or leave them. She kept asking: “Don’t you have anything else?”

“Of course. Keep searching. I can’t tell what you’ll like.”

All at once, in a black satin box, Madame Loisel unearthed a superb diamond necklace, and her heart began pounding with unrestrained desire. Her hands trembled when she picked up the necklace. She placed it on her throat, against her high-necked dress, and remained ecstatic in front of her reflection.

Related Characters: Mathilde Loisel, Jeanne Forestier
Related Symbols: The Necklace, The Mirror
Page Number: 6-7
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Necklace LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Necklace PDF

The Mirror Symbol Timeline in The Necklace

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mirror appears in The Necklace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Necklace
Reality and Illusion Theme Icon
Women and Beauty Theme Icon
Ambition, Greed, and Material Possessions Theme Icon
Happiness Theme Icon
...time Mathilde is happy as she stands in “ecstasy” staring at her reflection in the mirror. (full context)
Reality and Illusion Theme Icon
Women and Beauty Theme Icon
Stopping to admire herself one last time in the mirror, Mathilde suddenly realizes that the necklace is gone. She and her husband search everywhere for... (full context)