The Jewelry by Guy de Maupassant: Summary, Themes & Analysis

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will summarize the short story 'The Jewelry' by Guy De Maupassant. Furthermore, we will examine the theme that things are not always as they seem. Then you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

Characters of The Jewelry

Have you ever thought you knew someone and then found out years later they were not what they seemed? The Jewelry, a short story written by Guy de Maupassant explores this notion. In this story, M. Lantin, the chief clerk for the office of the Minister of Interior, meets the girl of his dreams and marries her. Years later, he learns that the minor irritations that always bothered him about his wife were a signal that she had a big secret. Let's find out more about this short story.

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  • 0:03 Characters of The Jewelry
  • 0:34 Plot Summary of The Jewelry
  • 2:26 Themes & Analysis of…
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Plot Summary of The Jewelry

When a beautiful, modest, and respectable young lady moves to Paris with her mother in hopes of getting married, M. Lantin immediately recognizes her as a great catch and marries her. They live together happily for many years. He admires her loving playfulness, and how adept she is with the family's economics.

The only things about her that he finds irritating are her love for the theater and the gaudy fake jewelry she wears. Eventually, he's able to convince her to go to the theater with friends so that he doesn't have to endure it. However, he can't convince her to stop wearing the jewelry even though he tells her, 'My dear, when one has not the means to afford real jewelry, one should appear adorned with one's natural beauty and grace only--and these gifts are the rarest of jewels.' She begs him to tolerate this one idiosyncrasy.

One night after the Opera, she gets pneumonia and dies eight days later. Lantin is beside himself with grief. To make things worse, he does not seem to be able to stretch the household budget as his wife did and finds himself in debt. He decides to sell off some of her fake jewelry, hoping he can get about 8 francs for a necklace. He is surprised to learn that it is worth about 15,000 francs. Immediately, the shopkeeper assumes he has stolen it and Lantin assumes his wife has been having an affair.

Lantin brings the rest of his wife's jewelry to the store and makes a total of about 200,000 francs. The first thing Lantin does is resign from his position, telling his supervisor that he has inherited 300,000 francs. After celebrating with a fine meal, he tells a man at the restaurant he has inherited 400,000 francs. That night he enjoys the theater for the first time. Six months later, he marries an uptight, angry woman who makes his life miserable.

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