BA English Short Stories: Character of Mithilda in ‘The Necklace’ by Guy De Maupassant

Matilda plays a significant role in the sad story The Necklace. It is decisive; to a great extent that her misfortune was of her own making. What happened to her can be termed as poetic justice. Matilda was born in a poor family and wedded to a petty clerk. She was a charming and graceful woman. She was endowed with an inborn fitness.

If the fate had been little kind to her she, with her beauty and charm, could have attracted a man of high rank, social status and means.

But it happened in only being the wife of petty clerk. Engrossed in her charms, this made her churlish and fretful.

Matilda led a miserable life. It was brightened only once when her husband managed an invitation to a grand reception in the house of minister. There she shone in borrowed plumes as she was wearing a costly necklace which was loaned to her by a friend of hers. As ill luck would have it, she lost her precious borrowed necklace. This mishap entirely changed the course of her as well as of her husband’s life.

For ten years they had to work like donkeys and live in humble house so they could pay the debts which were incurred for the original one.

During this period of hard labor she lost her physical charms, appeared haggard, was always dressed poorly and spoke in a jarring voice.

Matilda thus plays two different roles in the story. Before the loss of the necklace she is a thoughtless, ungrateful, proud beauty, unhappy with the poverty of her husband. After the loss she becomes a mature, humble and grateful wife who can gladly sacrifice every pleasure to get her husband out of his financial misery. This change in her character makes her lovable despite all her faults.

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