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The Necklace: Monsieur Loisel Characterization & Quotes

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.

How far would you go to make your significant other happy? In this lesson, we will analyze the character Monsieur Loisel from the short story 'The Necklace,' by Guy de Maupassant, and learn what a husband will do out of love.

Desire Is A Cruel Mistress

If your significant other was unhappy, what would you do? Would you tell them what they needed to hear? Tell them what they wanted to hear? Or maybe get them something to make their day? In the short story, 'The Necklace' by Guy de Maupassant, the protagonist's husband goes well beyond the boundaries of love to ensure his wife is happy; however, these deeds end up hurting the two and showing his true character. Read on to learn about Monsieur Loisel's character.

The Story

'The Necklace' follows the prideful journey of Monsieur and Madame Mathilde Loisel. Living in Paris, the couple lived a modest life. Mathilde took care of the home, while Monsieur worked for the Ministry of Education. However, Mathilde always yearned for more. This yearning gave the two a wonderful night at a government ball, but it came with a price.

Madame Loisel borrowed what she thought was an expensive diamond necklace and lost it on her way home. Afraid to tell her friend her mistake, the couple moved, dismissed their maid, and fell into poverty to be able to afford a new necklace for her friend. Years later, Mathilde ran into her friend and found out that the necklace she originally borrowed was a fake.

While the majority of the tale focuses on Mathilde's greed and shame, there is another character that is a part of the journey. Let's take a look at the man behind the action.

Who Is Monsieur Loisel?

While the story centers around Madame Loisel and her desire for status and money, Monsieur Loisel, seemingly passive, plays a significant role in the events that unfold. Monsieur Loisel is a clerk at the Ministry of Education, having no wealth or status. He works a modest job and provides Mathilde with a modest life. Upon analysis, his choices set this story in motion.

Monsieur Loisel came home with an invitation to a ball at the Ministry with the high profile people of France. He worked hard to get the invitation, stating 'not many clerks have a chance at one,' and he thought she would 'be thrilled to death' by this act. It's clear Monsieur Losiel cares for his wife and understands her passion for the elite when he tells her she'll 'see all the most important people there.' However, this great act was met with disappointment, since Mathilde felt she could in no way get the things she needed to stand out at this event. He was rewarded with tears.

Monsieur Loisel wants nothing but happiness for his wife, so much so, he fights for an invitation to a prestigious ball to surprise Mathilde.
Image of the Loisels.

He was 'stunned' by her reaction. Instead of giving up, he asks her how much she would need to buy a dress, pushing her to be happy. Mathilde replies with the exact amount he had been saving for a gun to go shooting next summer. He gives her the money without question.

Analysis

From the first few pages of the story, we see how deeply Monsieur Losiel cares for Mathilde, even though her requests seem unreasonable and greedy. While we don't see much activity from Monsieur Loisel himself, his reactions to his wife are what define his character. It's clear he wants his wife to be happy, but these selfless acts takes the couple into the depths of poverty.

What Role Does He Play?

After Mathilde loses the necklace, it is Monsieur Loisel who immediately decides to 'retrace their steps on foot.' He returned home around seven in the morning with no luck. 'He went to the police station, to the newspapers. . . to the cab companies, everywhere the slightest hope drove him.' He then tells Mathilde to 'write her friend,' and tell her she broke the clasp. He told her to delay by saying she's having it repaired. This deception speaks volumes of Monsieur Loisel, leading the reader to consider him weak, fearful, and desperate. However, one could also argue that he would do anything to protect his wife.

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