Characters Madame Mathilde Loisel



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The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Interactive Notes by Alfred Tom



Characters

Madame Mathilde Loisel is the central character of this story and the conflicts revolve around her. Those possible conflicts are character vs. self and character vs. society. Character vs. Self is evidenced by Mathilde simply being unhappy about her lot in life and essentially making herself miserable (“…she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her..” pg. 1, “She suffered from the poorness of the her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains” pg. 1). This unhappiness continues even when her doting husband brings her an invitation to a ball he had hoped would “delight” her (pg. 1). Instead of joy, she is furious and complains, “And what do you suppose I am to wear to such an affair?” (pg. 1). This leads to the purchasing of a new dress and, on the advice of her husband, her borrowing Madame Forestier’s diamond necklace (pg. 2). Mathilde Loisel, one could argue, is foisting this unhappiness upon herself as denoted in the line, “All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her” (pg. 1). The narrator is telling the reader that Mathilde is different by her desire for things above her station in life. Most women of her stature would not be concerned with these items and dreams but nonetheless, Mathilde is. She is her own worst enemy by wanting and desiring these things. She brings these troubles upon herself and she is the one who is ultimately responsible for losing the necklace (pg. 3).

The counter-argument one can make is that the conflict is in fact Character vs. Society. Many of the same quotes from above can be interpreted slightly differently. Instead of blaming Mathilde’s unhappiness on her, you could argue that it is society’s fault, and more specifically, society’s rigid class structure that is oppressing Mathilde. According to the text, Mathilde is “one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction” (pg. 1). This inability to control her life also explains why Mathilde allows herself “to be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education” (pg. 1). Mathilde, it seems, is not being allowed to blossom and the text even argues that this trait is inherent to women as seen in the following quotation:
“…for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family. Their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land”. (pg. 1)
This quotation comes to fruition when Mathilde makes her grand entrance at the ball wearing her new dress and Mme. Forestier’s diamond necklace. “She was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness” (pg. 3). This section of the party and having Mme. Forestier’s blessing to borrow the necklace are the only times in the text where she is happy (except for a tiny moment near the end which will be touched upon below). It is only in the moments where Mathilde reaches her full potential as a woman is she content. This interpretation along with viewing Chararacter vs. Society as the central conflict allows for a bit more sympathy for her character and could change the possible themes perceived by readers.

While the interpretation of conflict can diverge, it doesn’t change that Mathilde was a little harsh and had proclivities to act childish. For example, when Monsieur Loisel “exultantly” brings home the invitation, Mathilde becomes distraught and flings the “invitation petulantly” (pg. 1). Monsieur Loisel is finally able to convince her to accept the invitation after he allows her to buy a dress with some money he had been saving up to purchase a gun (pg. 2). Even after purchasing the dress, Mathilde is still not content and complains about not having any jewelry and remarks, “…there’s nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women” (pg. 2). One could again argue and wonder if these feeling are brought upon solely by Mathilde or if this is a true societal standard – nonetheless, she could have handled this more maturely instead of becoming self-defeatist. Again, her husband Monsieur Loisel is the one who advises her to go to her friend Madame Forestier in hopes of borrowing some jewels (pg. 2). It is interesting to note that, earlier in the story, the narrator informs the reader that Mathilde “had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery” (pg. 1). It seems fairly evident that this friend is Madame Forestier. Mathilde overcomes her hesitation and Madame Forestier is happy to lend her some jewels which results in Mathilde selecting the fateful diamond necklace.



As noted above, Mathilde is a sensation at the party but when she returns home, the necklace has been lost. Initially, Mathilde is inconsolable (“She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought”, pg. 4). The Loisel’s buy themselves some time by letting Madame Forestier know they were getting the necklace mended but eventually they decide to replace the necklace at a considerable amount of money without letting Madame Forestier know of their ordeal (36, 000 francs, pg. 4). However, Mathilde takes on the responsibility of paying off the debts they accumulated that went into purchasing the replacement necklace: “From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it…She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen…and clad like a poor woman, she went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money” (pg. 4 and 5). Mathilde undergoes a transformation as she is no longer afraid of being perceived as a poor woman and seems to take pride in saving every “wretched” cent. This goes on for ten years which changes Mathilde from the beautiful charmer to looking old and becoming “like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households” (pg. 5). However, the reader finds out that Mathilde still thinks about that night of the ball but instead of anger or resentment, her thoughts are almost wistful: “What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!” (pg. 5). In all honesty, it is not clear if it is the narrator or Mathilde who is relaying the previous passage but it’s still a powerful line that starts to bring in the concept of fate into the story. If one takes this into account and the character vs. society conflict, it is easy to see how the rigidity of class and the inability of social mobility can be interpreted as an act of fate; if you are born poor, you will die poor. Don’t tempt fate by acting or pretending to be something you are not.
This growth can also be seen by her quick judgment to confront/speak to Madame Forestier when she sees her at the Champs-Elysees: “Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not?“ pg. 5). Earlier, it was noted that Mathilde would not confront her friend because “she suffered so keenly” (pg. 1) but here, Mathilde goes right up to her, even in her ragged state. She is also honest about the “sorrows” they’ve had and how they were poor: “You realize it wasn’t easy for us; we had no money…well, it’s paid for at last, and I’m glad indeed” (pg. 5). Mathilde does not seem to be ashamed about her lot in life and seems to have accepted it and displays this in a beautiful but heart-breaking moment when Madame Forestier needs clarification that the diamond necklace they replaced had been the one she lent to Madame Loisel, Madame Loisel replies:
“ Yes. You hadn’t noticed it? They were very much alike.”
And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.
(pg. 5-6)

Earlier I had mentioned that were very few moments in which Mathilde was happy and this is one of those precious times. Mathilde is proud to know that Madame Forestier never became aware of the switch which is why they went through all the trouble for in the first place. This is then shattered by the revelation that Madame Forestier’s necklace was an imitation and cost “at the very most five hundred francs” (pg. 6). It is a very difficult moment that evokes anger, sadness, sympathy, empathy and a veritable cornucopia of emotions, but it does not change the fact that Mathilde was a dynamic character that changed remarkably from the beginning to the end of the story. Now, one could argue again if this shows a growth of character in coming to grips with reality or if this shows a character that has had her hopes and dreams snuffed out of her due to the reality of the class structure of the era. It is a difficult question to answer and readers will feel differently for a variety of reasons. Literature is fraught with ambiguity and interpretation and The Necklace is no different.



Monsieur Loisel seems to be clearly in love with his wife, Mathilde Loisel. He hopes to win her favor as he is the one that initiates the plot by bringing home the invitation to the Minister’s Ball, incorrectly assuming his wife would love the gift. Instead he received “furious eyes” from his wife which leads to her eventually crying (pg. 1). Monsieur Loisel does not share Mathilde’s desire for the gilded life but rather seems content with the simple life as seen by Mathilde referring to him as the “careful-minded clerk” (pg. 2). However, he also desires to please his wife as can be seen by his exclamation of, “Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better”, to a simple meal (pg.1) and most obviously by allowing his wife to purchase a ball dress with money that had been earmarked to purchase a gun for himself (pg. 2). Loisel has simpler tastes and struggles to understand his wife which is exemplified most glaringly by asking her four times, on three different occasions, “What’s the matter with you?” (pg. 1, 2 and 3). Those three occasions coming when she begins to cry after reading the invitation, after the purchase of the dress and coming to the realization that she has no jewels to wear, and when she lets out a cry after realizing she no longer has the necklace (pg. 1, 2 and 3). They are two very different people. While Mathilde wants the grandeur of all life can offer, Monsieur Loisel want to go lark hunting with friends (pg. 2); while Mathilde dances the night away, “drunk with pleasure” (pg. 3), Loisel finds a quiet room with a few other men to catch a few hours of sleep (pg. 3); while Mathilde, upon conclusion of the festivities at the Ball, thinks “it was the end, for her” (pg. 3), Monsieur Loisel can’t help but thinking about getting some sleep because he had to work in the morning (pg. 3). Loisel, like any good husband, tries to ameliorate his unhappy wife. He knows her well enough to know she’d adore a party but does not foresee her desire not to simply attend, but to attend and dazzle, “to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after” (pg. 1). When they leave the party, he does not seem to be aware that his wife does not want him to place their “clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress” (pg. 3) on her, and if he had been aware, he didn’t care as he was more concerned with her catching a cold (pg. 3). Also, when the necklace does go missing, it is Monsieur Loisel who puts his clothes back on and sets out to search for the necklace (pg. 3-4). The evidence seems to characterize a doting and considerate husband who just can’t completely understand his wife.

While much of the blame for what transpired could be put at the feet of Madame Mathilde Loisel, it is actually Monsieur Loisel’s idea to hide the truth from Madame Forestier and to purchase a replacement diamond necklace (pg. 4). This is interesting and could denote a few things about Loisel’s character depending on one’s interpretation. The first is that it could show how Loisel values honor or integrity by refusing to admit to losing the necklace and vowing to replace it. Or it could show how Loisel is aware of the class structure and how admitting to a superior that you have lost something valuable to them could be devastating for one’s reputation. This is hinted at when Madame Loisel drops off the necklace and wonders if Madame Forestier will think her a thief if she finds out the necklace had been replaced (pg. 4). It is a curious aspect of the story that could use more fleshing out and multiple perspectives from reader.

In the end, Monsieur Loisel enters into a series of “ruinous agreements…he mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, risked his signature without even knowing if he could honor it, and, appalled at the agonizing face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him…he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweler’s counter thirty-six thousand francs” (pg. 4). Monsieur Loisel stands by his wife and the two manage to pay off the debt. This act of loyalty and love by Monsieur Loisel to Mathilde was consistent with everything else he had done when it came to his wife. The reader is not privy to any changes in Loisel, if any, after the ten years pass and we are left to wonder if he is still doting on his wife and if he was ever able to join his friends lark-hunting on the plain of Nanterre.

Madame Jeanne Forestier plays a large role even though she is a minor character. She is the one who lends the diamond necklace to Mathilde and she is the one who informs Mathilde and the reader that the necklace was just a fake and worth only a fraction of the price the Loisel's ended up paying to replace it. Mathilde envies Madame Forestier for what she has, which is wealth and status. The wealth is easy to deduct as the narrator alludes to Madame Forestier by calling her a “rich friend” (pg. 1), however with the discovery of the diamond necklace being a fake, one has to wonder what other things are not as they seem, including her other pieces of jewelry (“…some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship” pg. 2).

Madame Forestier, while having a role in the downfall of the Loisel's (not intentionally), is not a malicious character at all. She is willing to lend her jewels to Mathilde without much prompting (pg. 2-3). While she was a little annoyed by the late return of her necklace denoted by telling Mathilde that she “ought to have brought it back sooner”, because she might have needed it (pg. 4), it could be argued that this would be a common response. The narrator is careful to mention that she did not open the case upon its return (pg. 4) which foreshadows the revelation that the original necklace was a fake. One could surmise that if the original necklace was worth 36,000 francs, then Madame Forestier would have been an idiot not to check if the necklace was inside. Another interpretation could be that Madame Forestier simply trusted Mathilde not to have cheated her.



When Mathilde first comes up to Madame Forestier after the ten years have passed, Madame Forestier is “surprised at being familiarly addressed by a poor woman” (pg. 5). This tells us many things. One it lets us know that the physical transformation of Mathilde is quite complete. It also lets us know that Madame Forestier is not at all experienced in being called Jeanne by any poor people, which again spotlights the chasms between classes in this era. We also learn that Madame Forestier seems to have had a genuine friendship with Mathilde by referring to her as “my poor Mathilde” twice and remembering quite clearly the necklace she had borrowed a decade prior (pg. 5). Finally, when Mathilde reveals that the necklace she had borrowed was a diamond replacement, she is “halted” and “deeply moved” and when she tells Mathilde that her original necklace was a fake in response, she takes Mathilde’s hands into her own (pg. 5-6). Madame Forestier seems to care about her friend and, like Mathilde who had matured by not fearing the assumed superiority of her friend, Madame Forestier is not afraid to reveal to her friend that her necklace was simply an imitation. She could have easily maintained the façade but she valued letting Mathilde know the truth more highly.

Themes

Take responsibility for your actions – This theme is seen by the character growth of Mathilde. At the beginning of the story, Mathilde acts ‘petulantly’ (pg. 1) and is very unhappy with the unfolding of her life. When her husband brings home an invitation to a Ball, Mathilde lashes out at him by telling him to give the invitation away as she has nothing to wear (pg. 1). Mathilde is finally able to have her night of ecstasy and instead of sharing it with her husband, who in many ways made it happen for her, she spends the night dancing with strangers while her husband dozes (pg. 3). Mathilde goes on to lose the necklace and the Loisel’s replace it and this is where Mathilde undergoes her transformation in joining her husband in taking ownership of their debt and paying it off. The narrator informs the reader that “she played her part heroically” (pg. 4). Mathilde matures and takes on the role as the poor home caretaker that she had loathed but she realized that she must pay the price for her follies and takes on those duties.

There is no denying your fate – In the opening paragraph, the narrator makes mention of fate in that it may have misplaced Mathilde in a family of artisans (pg. 1) and because of that her upward mobility in social status had a permanent glass ceiling. The opening paragraphs go onto relate the dreams and desires of Mathilde displaying a women who may be middle class or lower but has the soul of the ‘upper crust’. Mathilde is unhappy with her status and strives for more and in one glorious night, she achieves everything she ever wanted and what is fate’s response. Fate responds by striking her even further down the class ladder and turning her into “all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households” (pg. 5). Mathilde had her moment but fate was not smiling and instead pushed her farther down the totem pole to ensure that those hopes and dreams of the grand life would be extinguished. Fate is seemingly trying to tell her to ‘know her role’.

It is better to tell the truth than to lie or conceal – This is a simple theme and if one reads The Necklace as a fable, then it is a fable with a clear message and that message is not to lie. There are many what if’s in this story with some even asked by the characters themselves as seen when Mathilde wonders about how her life would have been different had she not lost the diamond necklace (pg. 5). However the reader could easily wonder how differently the story could have been had the Loisel’s simply gone to Madame Forestier to let her know they had misplaced her necklace. While we could argue forever where that tale could have gone, it would be tough to envision that the ensuing story could end up worse than the one the Loisel’s had to endure. So the morale of the tale is Don’t Lie and Tell the Truth.

Appearances can be deceiving – This theme can be seen in many ways with one being how throughout the story individuals are trying to appear to be of a greater status than they are. The story, in a way, is a Paris, late 1800’s version of keeping up with the Jones’. A more subtle display of this theme deals with the necklaces. In the information-loaded opening paragraph, the narrator lets the reader know that Mathilde’s tastes were “simple because she had never been able to afford any other” (pg. 1). We’ll ignore the question of whether Mathilde’s tastes were actually simple as a desire for exquisite jewels and a glamorous ball dress runs counter to that but instead use that statement to explain how Mathilde was unable to differentiate between real diamonds and those made of paste. Mathilde had never likely seen real diamonds before so was not able to tell the difference. However, at the end of the short story, Madame Forestier never became aware that her paste diamonds had actually been replaced by real diamonds. Even she, the supposed rich friend with the high status, could not differentiate between real and fake. This then leads to questions of why two things that seem and look to be the same are valued so differently – the answer in this case is simply because we place more value in diamonds than paste which can be seen as a metaphor for valuing Madame Loisel less because of the low status of her artisan family even though she is every bit the equal of any other women. She appears to be on par with the women at the ball, but she is an imitation just like the paste necklace and the people of this era clearly do not value paste as much as they do diamonds – even if they can’t tell the difference.

Point of View

The Necklace is told from a third person omniscient perspective which allows the reader access into the thoughts and feelings of the characters. We are able to see out of Mme. Loisel’s “furious eyes” (pg.1) and later on, be aware of Mme. Loisel’s smile “in proud and innocent happiness” (pg. 6). The perspective focuses mainly on Mme. Loisel but also touches on her husband, her friend Madame Forestier and also her impact at the Minister’s Ball in which “she was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her” (pg. 3). This perspective is crucial in letting us know the thoughts, feelings and dreams of the characters. We become aware of Monsieur Loisel’s desire to purchase a gun to go lark-hunting with friends but that he willingly sets aside his wants for the desires of his wife (pg. 2). This point of view allows us to perceive the intentions of the characters but the narrator is careful not to judge their actions – that is for the reader to decide. This point of view also has much to inform the reader about the society the story takes place in (as seen most clearly at the beginning of the story and during the ball) which may have been difficult to do from a first person or limited omniscient point of view.



Setting

The Necklace takes place in Paris but from only reading the text alone, it would be difficult to ascertain an accurate time setting but it could likely be the very late 1800’s. Some of the indicators of time are the use of carriages (“at last they found on the quay one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight”, pg. 3) and also in how class is structured; an example being the inability to marry someone of a higher status: “she had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction” (pg. 1). In a more contemporary setting, societal class can be a little more fluid but in this story, it seems that the class and family you are born into is the class you are tied to for life. This hints to a more traditional and classical period before the 1900’s. This rigidity also has much to say about the societal setting of the text and the extreme focus in the first two paragraphs should set off alarm bells in the reader wondering why the author or narrator is centralizing on this topic of class structure and even the feminist mindset (“for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace and charm serving them for birth or family…” pg. 1). There is no mention of women working as it seems they are limited to the social realm which is another insight into the cultural setting. If women are not able to work, then it seems her societal standing takes on greater priority and one could easily surmise the frustration a woman would feel if that societal ceiling is limited by the status of the family they were born into. The importance of class, status and appearances should be included as part of the setting. The background or context of the story is important as it leads to why the Loisel’s did not tell the truth to Madame Forestier about losing the necklace or even why Mathilde Loisel felt it was necessary to have a beautiful new dress as well as the some striking jewelry too. If one takes into account the possible cultural and societal setting, one could argue that this was society’s demands and not Mathilde’s.



Mood

Mood is defined as how literature and all its imagery, symbolism, dialogue and techniques make the reader feel. The reader’s response to the two central characters of Madame and Monsieur Loisel could be quite dichotomous. Madame Loisel could evoke some sympathy if one takes the point of view of society oppressing her but if one sees Madame Loisel as the cause of her own unhappiness then the reader won’t have much sympathy for her and may even feel her punishment was deserved in a very dark sort of way. Monsieur Loisel could anger readers in being seen as a pushover who dotes on his wife and let’s himself be trampled over. Other readers could like his character and empathize with his plight of trying to please his unhappy wife. The Necklace through the acts of Madame Loisel and, to a lesser extent, her husband evokes a lot of emotions in the reader and they can be quite varied. The mood of the story is never light and the few moments that could be considered happy are quickly crushed by some negative revelation (the misplacement of the necklace after the Ball, and Madame Loisel’s “innocent happiness” near the end is instantly eradicated by the disclosure that the necklace was an imitation, pg. 3, 6). The story is tragic and should evoke some feelings of that nature from even the most jaded of readers. The act of a needless ruining of ten years of a couple’s life is devastating.

One could argue that the mood evoked in readers could be altered by the gender of the reader. This story is very much about Madame Loisel and her feminine qualities because, as I’ve noted above, the narrator attaches this desire for social acceptance and admiration as that of a feminine nature: “…in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart” (pg. 3). However, I’m not saying women would be more likely to sympathize with Madame Loisel but rather that these assertions of the feminine qualities could create more sympathy if women agree or can relate, or more anger if they outright reject these beliefs and wonder like Monsieur Loisel and exclaim “what’s the matter with [her]?”

Symbol & Language

The one thing we have to keep in mind with this text is that it is translated. If one was looking for an online text, it would be simple to find various links with slightly differing translations and usages. I was even able to find a text that was annotated. So the reader will have to be somewhat mindful that the words we read are not the exact ones De Maupassant would have wanted us to read. Nonetheless, De Maupassant has a certain style as evidenced by his use of spacing, as if he wants the reader to slow down and try to see the importance of the dialogue. There are many sentences that stand alone as paragraphs. Some examples being, “By the end of a week they had lost all hope” (pg. 4), “She went up to her” (pg. 5). De Maupassant also has a lot of dialogue in this story and has a habit of separating dialogue from the sentences that denote the reactions or declarations of dialogue with an example being:



Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

We must see about replacing the diamonds.” Pg. 4

It is an interesting tactic and really slows down the reader and almost forces them to evaluate the impact of the dialogue and stand-alone sentences. De Maupassant also does not have a lot of fully fleshed out paragraphs but the sentences themselves can, at times, tend to be long with many conjunctives and he is very vivid with his imagery as can be seen in the opening paragraphs when the narrator waxes on about Mathilde describing her dream home and meals (pg. 1).

There are some small moments in The Necklace which could be interpreted as symbols. As mentioned, the story has something to say about femininity and the inherent traits women have and there’s a moment when the narrator is talking about Mathilde adapting to her new poor life which could hint at her femininity being whittled away: “She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans” (pg. 4). Pink nails could be seen as her femininity being worn down by the coarseness of her poverty. This is seen near the end when she is “strong, hard, coarse” like the other women of “poor households” (pg. 5) as her earlier desires have all but disappeared.



The major symbol of the story is the necklace, or rather, both the real diamond necklace and the imitation one. The necklace symbolizes the ‘good life’. Mathilde can only be successful at the Minister’s Ball if she had the beautiful dress and the beautiful jewels. Once she loses the necklace, all opportunity, if there was any, to achieve the good life is lost to her. There is also a more complicated analogy one could use for the necklaces and that would have to do with concept of class structure and the theme iterated above about how appearances can be deceiving. Mathilde at the Minister’s Ball is a smashing success, even though she is not exactly of noble birth and neither are the fake diamonds around her neck. The people at the ball don’t know that but they still celebrate and desire Mathilde. However, if people were told that Mathilde was wearing a necklace made of paste and was born from a family of artisans, their reaction may not have been the same which goes back to the quotation near the beginning: “…for women have no caste or class…Their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with highest lady in the land” (pg. 1). Mathilde proves this as the she is the Belle of the Ball but because of the rigid class structure of the society she lives in, even though she appears to be as radiant as a diamond necklace, she is made of paste and according to the structures of that society, she is inherently worth less.

Conclusion

On first reading, the Necklace may appear to be the story of a sad-sack, greedy and bored woman that ensures her own destruction. The more observant reader or a second pass on close reading reveals a more complicated tale of a flawed woman in a flawed, oppressive society. In our contemporary setting, when one encounters a woman like Mathilde, they may be quick to blame her for her unhappiness but in paying attention to the setting, the reader begins to realize that Mathilde’s problems and unhappiness are not entirely of her own making. She yearns for more and who doesn’t, but it just so happens that she lives in a society where that is nearly impossible. Good debate and discussion could be generated here to find out where people fall on the spectrum. The story also has many themes and discussion around the validity of those themes and any others could easily fill up a class. The story also has much to say about the plight of women, femininity and class structure in the late 1800’s Parisian society and it’s generally not flattering. The characters in this story also evoke a wide range of emotions from readers, ranging from disgust to sympathy to possibly pride (being proud of a character). The ending of the story is a visceral moment in a series of interesting and fascinating moments that create much to discuss and analyze.


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