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
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.