The Necklace

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Necklace” (1889) by Guy de Maupassant. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) was a French writer who became famous for his short stories and for his Naturalist works of fiction. He wrote 300 short stories often focusing on the lives of people from the lower or middle classes.


Here you can read an extract from our study guide:

Social setting

The short story’s social setting looks at class differences. The contrast is illustrated by Mathilde’s ordinary reality and the luxurious society she wants to be a part of. Mathilde is a modest woman, who lives in a modest home, which she despises: 

She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the wretched look of the walls, from the worn-out chairs, from the ugliness of the curtains. All those things, of which another woman of her rank would never even have been conscious, tortured her and made her angry. 

As this example suggests, Mathilde belongs to the lower class. She “had no dresses, no jewels, nothing”, but she dreams about riches. In contrast, Mathilde’s friend, Mme. Forestier, and the people present at the ball belong to the upper class.

The social setting also looks at the different values shared by Mathilde and her husband. While she is ambitious and dreams of greatness, he is content with his life. 


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The Necklace

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