Materialism And Selflessness In Nathaniel Maupassant's The Necklace

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The Necklace is a short story based in France in late 19th century and how people were solely judged on their appearance and wealth rather than personality. Maupassant explores the themes of materialism and selflessness. He follows the guidelines of literary realism to express the real mentality of people at the time. It is based on a middle classed woman married to a well earning junior clerk with a decent life who always thought she was intended for more. Through the use of realistic descriptions and characterization, Maupassant creates for us a negative image of society in France at the time. At the time appearance and material wealth were the most important aspects of the society: “She had no dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that; she felt made for that.” Maupassant shows that all Mathilde, who represents French society, desires is materialistic items. Maupassant stresses that this is all she cares about by first repeating the negative “no” and “no”, then linking these with the “nothing” which relates to what she really cares about, material wealth: “And she loved nothing but that”. This highlights society’s concern with superficial materialism. It is ironic that the writer has portrayed her as being middle class; in fact, she has a very acceptable life with a maid and is married to a junior clerk. Maupassant further criticises Mathilde’s, and society’s, obsession with appearance later in the story. When offered her choice of all of Madam Forrester

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