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The Story of An Hour & The Necklace

Mathilde Loisel in Guy de Maupassant's story "The Necklace" and Louise Mallard in Kate Chopin's story "The Story of An Hour" are women who lead their lives according to what others want or expect of them. Mathilde is controlled by her belief that others judge her by her wealth and her possessions. She certainly judges herself by such material and superficial criteria, and her efforts to appear to be what she is not costs her and her husband dearly and unnecessarily. Mathilde believes that her physical beauty indicates that she was "born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries" (Maupassant) which the rich enjoy in life. Ironically, her longing to have the good things in life drives her deep into poverty and menial labor. Louise is, simply, controlled by her husband. Ironically, what kills her is the return of her husband "from the dead" after an hour of freedom in which she luxuriated after hearing a false report of her husband's death.

The fates of both characters are rich with irony. Mathilde borrows jewelry from a rich friend to go to a ball. Her friend lets her pick out whatever she wants; Mathilde picks out a cheap imitation diamond necklace. Perhaps Maupassant suggests here that Mathilde's false self made her incapable of selecting anything but false jewelry. In any case, she loses what she believes to be a diamond necklace, and she and her husband go into great debt to pay for the genuine diamond necklace with which they replace the false. They must work for ten years to pay off that debt: "Mme. Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households--strong and hard and rough" (Maupassant 51). However, along the way, forced by her own pride and superficial values to lead a life which she believed to be beneath her, Mathilde learns important lessons:

Mme, Loisel now knew the horrible existence of the needy. She took her part, moreover, all of a sudden, with heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid....

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The Story of An Hour & The Necklace. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:39, March 22, 2019, from