In Guy De Maupassants story The Necklace, the main character Mathilde is portrayed to be a very unhappy, manipulative and selfish person. I chose this character to be worthy of studying; because her actions can be compared to the way things are done in society today.
Throughout the story, Mathilde is shown to be a very sad character. Her character is written in a way that compares her happiness to materialistic objects. She had no decent dresses, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but these; she believed herself born only for these. She burned with the desire to please, to be envied, to be attractive and sought after. (Page 6, Paragraph 5) It is as if she gave up before she was born. The object, that in her mind would cause her happiness, would be to be attractive and to be envied by all. It was the little things in her surroundings that tormented her each day. She was ashamed of who she was, which made her very unhappy with her life in general. She suffered because of her grim apartment with its drab walls, threadbare furniture, ugly curtains. All such things, which most other women in her situation would not even noticed, tortured her and filled her with despair. (Page 5, Intro Paragraph) These words show that things in her surroundings, that others may take for granted, make her very unhappy.
Mathildes manipulation is apparent in the way that she treats her husband when he confronts her about the party. Her husband thought that she would be happy to have the opportunity to go out to an event. She responded to him by saying that she had nothing to wear. Nothing, except I have nothing to wear and therefore cant go to the party. Give your invitation to someone else at the office whose wife will have nicer clothes than mine. (Page 7, Paragraph 20) This shows that she is trying to make him feel bad for her and manipulate him into buying her new clothes. He then volunteers to pay for a new dress and without delay she was calculating the price in her head. I dont know exactly, but it seems to me that I could get by on four hundred francs. The price just so happened to be the exact amount set a side for a summer hunting trip he had planned to go on without her. In a way it was as if she was putting him on the spot by saying it was either the hunting trip or she. Only if he chose the hunting trip it appears to me that she would have been outraged.
Mathilde’s selfishness is shown to be a major downfall in her character throughout the story. Her selfishness in her one true friendship is the true light of her character. She felt so bad about her self that she would befriend the only true friend that she had. She had a rich friend, a comrade from convent days, whom she did not want to see anymore because she suffered so much when she returned home. This portrays that Mathilde is selfish, and having difficulty dealing with a friend that has all the things in life that she deems she herself wants. Then as her husband presents her with an invitation, she states that she has nothing to wear and that she has no jewelry. He says to her “why not go ask your old friend. ” She immediately jumped up and thought it was a good idea. Thisshows that when it came time for something she wanted, she wasnt as depressed as before. After not seeing her friend for a long time, she goes and visits her to borrow some jewelry for the party. She then looks through her friends jewelry and still was unsatisfied. Do you have anything else? (Page 8, Paragraph 45) This idea shows that even though she felt she had nothing, she was still unhappy with making a selection even though it was something that was not hers. After not seeing her friend for years, still all she could think about was jewelry. Then when she received the gem that she wanted, she scampered away selfishly. She jumped up, hugged her friend joyfully, and then hurried away with her treasure. (Page 8, Paragraph 50) This shows that even after not seeing her friend for a long time she selfishly acts the same way she always has and only thinks about the jewelry for the party.
Throughout the story The Necklace, Maupassant shows that Mathilde has many different traits. He shows how Mathilde can be very unhappy, manipulative and very selfish in her actions. Even in todays society, these traits can be a person’s downfall, which can cost you 5,000 dollars for a 50-dollar necklace.