The Necklace

by

Guy de Maupassant

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The Necklace Symbol Analysis

The Necklace Symbol Icon

The necklace that Mathilde borrows from Jeanne Forestier represents the idea that appearances can be deceiving. The necklace looks like it is made of expensive diamonds, but it is in fact made of paste, costing at most 500 francs. The fact that Mathilde is unable to tell the difference between the two reveals her inability look beneath the surface to see the true value of things. From Mathilde’s perspective, the necklace is the physical embodiment of the class and social status she so desires, and the fact that she picks the most expensive-looking (but not necessarily the most valuable) item from Mme. Forestier’s jewel box points to her unrestrained greed and ambition. Likewise, the revelation that the necklace is a fake demonstrates that Mathilde’s ambition is woefully misguided in the sense that she puts too much stock in physical objects and their power to change her life. The necklace is also thematically linked to the dangers of female beauty, especially with regard to the ugliness that an attractive outward appearance can conceal.

The Necklace Quotes in The Necklace

The The Necklace quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Necklace. 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:

“You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”

“Yes. You didn’t catch on, did you? They were fairly alike.”

And she smiled with proud and naïve joy.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took hold of Madame Loisel’s hands. “Oh, my poor Mathilde! My necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs!”

Related Characters: Mathilde Loisel (speaker), Jeanne Forestier (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Necklace
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Necklace PDF

The Necklace Symbol Timeline in The Necklace

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Necklace 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
...looks through every item in Mme. Forestier’s jewel box, eventually settling on an expensive-looking diamond necklace. For the first time Mathilde is happy as she stands in “ecstasy” staring at her... (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 the necklace, but without any luck.... (full context)
Reality and Illusion Theme Icon
The next day they visit the jeweler whose name was on the necklace’s box, but he says that the necklace didn’t come from him. (full context)
Ambition, Greed, and Material Possessions Theme Icon
...to another jeweler, where they find a string of diamonds that looks exactly like the necklace they are trying to replace. The necklace costs 40,000 francs. (full context)
Sacrifice, Suffering, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
...but he is forced to borrow the rest of the money to pay for the necklace. He borrows money from his friends and makes ruinous deals with moneylenders and loan sharks.... (full context)
Ambition, Greed, and Material Possessions Theme Icon
After buying the replacement, Mathilde returns the necklace to her friend. Mme. Forestier doesn’t even open the box and so she does not... (full context)
Reality and Illusion Theme Icon
Ambition, Greed, and Material Possessions Theme Icon
Sacrifice, Suffering, and Martyrdom Theme Icon
...story, proud that she had been able to replace and pay for such an expensive necklace. However, Mme. Forestier is dismayed to inform her that all this suffering was for nothing,... (full context)