The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant: Summary

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  • 0:03 The Grass Is Always Greener
  • 0:33 Never Satisfied
  • 1:55 Still Not Enough
  • 2:31 The Belle of the Ball
  • 4:16 Light at the End
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but that grass comes with a price. View this summary of ''The Necklace'' by Guy de Maupassant to find out how much Mme. Loisel paid to see the other side.

The Grass Is Always Greener

Do you ever wish your life was different? Do you wish for more money, a significant other, or a new job? In the short story, ''The Necklace'' by Guy de Maupassant, the main character, Mme. Mathilde Loisel, has her dream come true. However, this dream does not come without a price, a price that Mathilde and her husband sacrifice everything they have to pay. Let's take a look at a summary of the story and decide if this couple made the right choices.

Never Satisfied

At the beginning of the story, we meet Mme. Mathilde Loisel, a woman that comes from a working class family but wants nothing to do with her blue collar roots. Instead of marrying rich and living the good life, her parents had her marry a man named M. Loisel, who has a decent job at the Department of Education. While some may see this as a good life - food on the table, a nice place to live, and marriage to a loving man - Mathilde believes she is living a life of poverty and misery.

Mme. Loisel feels she was born into the wrong social class, which makes her separate herself from other women. Every day that she returns to her shabby household reminds her of the life she is not living. She dreams of a luxurious home with servants and friends of high social status. She dreams of being wanted by all for friendship and love, and to be adorned by beautiful jewels and clothing as well.

One night, Mathilde's husband comes home with an invitation to a party at the Ministry. M. Loisel believes this invitation will make her happy, but to no avail, Mathilde fights her tears. M. Loisel is shocked, but Mathilde explains she could never go to a ball like this. She has no dress, no jewelry, and no money. M. Loisel asks Mathilde how much she needs. She responds with the exact amount he has saved for a hunting rifle, but M. Loisel lovingly offers her the money.

Still Not Enough

A few days before the party, Mme. Loisel becomes upset again. She has a dress to wear but no jewels. Mathilde feels she will look ''poor among a lot of rich women.'' M. Loisel suggests that Mathilde goes to visit her wealthy friend, Mme. Jeanne Forestier, and see if she can borrow some jewelry. Mme. Loisel feels this is a great idea and heads to Mme. Forestier's home. Once there, Mme. Forestier shows her everything she owns and tells Mme. Loisel to pick whatever she'd like. Mathilde selects a diamond necklace.

The Belle of the Ball

At the party, Mme. Loisel lives the life she has been dreaming of. She dances, everyone asks who she is, and she looks stunning. She dances until 4 am, wishing the night would never end. Unfortunately for this real-life Cinderella, the clock strikes her back to reality. Putting on her poverty-stricken coat and unable to afford a cab, M. and Mme. Loisel sneak away from the Ministry to find a cheap ride home.

Once home, Mme. Loisel realizes her dream is turning into a nightmare; Mme. Forestier's necklace is gone! Mme. Loisel remembers having it in the cab, so M. Loisel heads out into the night to check the streets and retraces their steps.

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