Things Are Not Always What they Seem in The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Good Essays
The well-known proverb says, “Things are not always what they seem.” The line betwixt perception and reality can not only be hard to discover, but can hide major differences between the two. What we believe about our world, both on a material and philosophical level, can be far from the truth. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the classic short story, The Necklace, written by Guy de Maupassant. The Necklace successfully shows that ones' perception and reality often are not even close to being the same. This essay will prove this to be true by exploring the theme of perception versus reality through the three literary elements of character, irony, and symbolism.
The most obvious way that the theme is found in the story is through the characters of the piece. The main character, and the most well-developed, is Madame Mathilde Loisel. Madame Loisel is a simple housewife who is married to a government clerk. A very important aspect of her character is that she idealizes the upper class and longs to be above her current status. She “[felt] herself born for every delicacy and luxury.” Madame Loisel, despite a decent living as a middle class lady, falsely perceives the upper classes as happier, exciting, and more romantic. She despises and looks down upon her own life as less valuable and worthwhile, to the extent that she doesn't visit her own friend who is wealthier than herself. However, within the story, the upper classes are not necessarily better off or happier. Her wealthy friend Madame Forestier, for instance, keeps a fake necklace even though she is wealthy, demonstrating that even the wealthy don't “have it all.” What's more, Madame Loisel's status quo at the beginning of the tale is a life in which she has all of h...

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...urting her. The reality of both were far different.
In the end, the theme shines clear. The Necklace successfully shows that perception and reality greatly differ in many ways. An examination of Madame Loisel's character shows how this theme is integral to the story. A look at the several uses of irony within the tale proves this theme to be true. The symbolism of the necklace itself shows how what one perceives can often be the exact opposite from what really is. The story is a tragedy because Madame Loisel cannot understand reality as it is, but lets her perceptions and ideas about the way things work drive her actions. In the end, this leads to a hard life for her, and she loses everything she strove for. If only she had understood this simple theme, the consequences would have been far different, because as the story shows, things are not always what they seem.