Obsession in The Necklace and Solid Objects Essay

Obsession in The Necklace and Solid Objects Essay

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Obsession in The Necklace and Solid Objects


Webster's Dictionary states the definition of obsess as "to think about something
unceasingly," similarly, obsession, according to the same text is defined as "the domination
of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea or desire." The protagonist's in both
short stories, The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant, as well at Solid Objects, by Virginia
Woolf illustrate these words as they are defined. Mathilde, in The Necklace is inherently
obsessed with materialism, wealth, and class, whereas John, in Solid Objects, becomes
preoccupied with various objects commonly perceived as trash in order to provide
knowledge and insight into his life. Though their respective fixations differ, the obsession
itself, similarly led both characters to their ultimate demise within society, one losing any
hopes of wealth and status, and the other losing a brilliant career as a politician. While the
plots of both stories illustrate the obsession it is the author's style and use of symbolism
that provides insight into the protagonist's motives and thoughts.
Both were obsessed with material items they perceived would lead to ultimate
happiness. Mathilde struggled to find peace in her life as a result of her natural beauty and
grace, that she was "born for every delicacy and luxury." Though "fate had blundered"
she was left by the wayside to endure a middle class life with only daydreams to remind
her of the elitist company she thought she deserved. It was these daydreams and fanciful
desires of fine china, tapestries, and "antique silks" that troubled her to the point she could
not be satisfied. She could not be pleased with a meal, no less and invitation to a ball
because m...


... middle of paper ...


..., though many never met his expectations. At the end of the story, John
is so consumed that he takes on the identity of the iron, radiating cold and alone, lost to a
world obsessed with trash.
Tragically, in the conclusions of both stories, Mathilde and John were left worse
off the they began because they let their obsessions take control of their lives. Mathilde
threw away her youth and beauty, left to face the dark and harsh reality of misery. John
left behind a brilliant career to search for meaning that he could not grasp. Unable to
grasp reality they were led to their ultimate disaster with help from the authors use of
symbolism and style. Both Maupassant and Woolf placed real life scenarios with tragic
situations, forcing the reader to not only feel for the characters, but compare the
protagonists to themselves and learn from their experiences.

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