The Necklace is a short story written by Guy de Maupassant in 1884. It tells the story of Mathilde Loisel, an unhappy woman who dreams of a better life. She borrows an expensive diamond necklace for a party from her wealthy friend, Madame Forestier, and loses it at the end of the night. To replace it, she spends 10 years working hard to pay off its exorbitant replacement cost. In doing so, she learns that material possessions do not bring happiness or fulfill one's dreams.
The Necklace has been widely read and studied since its publication due to its vivid characters, captivating plotline, and underlying themes about human nature and ambition. On one level, this is a story about avarice. Mathilde's desire for wealth leads her down a path where, even after sacrificing so much time away from family and friends to repay what was lost, she still never achieves true financial stability or satisfaction. Instead, she gains wisdom along the way, which brings her more contentment than any amount of money could ever buy her, despite her embarrassment at finding out that Madame Forestier had actually given her fake jewels all along. This highlights how deceiving appearances can be and also how valuable knowledge ultimately proves itself invaluable over time, no matter what situation we find ourselves in.
At another level, however, The Necklace serves as a commentary on society's obsession with class distinction, status symbols, and luxurious items like jewelry (which will always remain impractical). By focusing on Mathilde's misguided pursuit of social advancement, which was fueled by envy rather than genuine appreciation for others' successes, Maupassant offers readers insight into why these types of values are detrimental.