Materialism In The Necklace Short Story

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The Necklace is a short story based in France in late 19th century and how people were 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,…show more content…
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 's jewels for the party nothing meets her high standards until “All of a sudden, in a black satinwood case, she found a magnificent diamond necklace, and her heart began to beat with immoderate desire.” Maupassant’s criticism is implied by his use of the phrase “immoderate desire”. Mathilde 's excessive and extreme reaction is to the “magnificent” appearance of the diamond necklace, which we learn later to be a fake. Both examples above highlight the author’s harsh critique of society’s fascination with materialism and appearance. Furthermore, Maupassant judges society negatively highlighting both the class divisions in French society at the time and the
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