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The fate of women in a bourgeois society is a theme that is of major concern to Guy de Maupassant. Like many of his works, a short story “The Necklace” discusses the faults of middle-class lifestyle and way of thinking. Envious of the rich and contemptuous of the poor, Mathilde is superficial and ungrateful at the beginning of the story. Yet, because of the situation with paying debts, her self-pity changes for more self-respect despite the hardships she has to experience. In the end, she appears to be more mature and more aware of her own value and usefulness.

Speaking about Mathilde’s initial character, it should be noted that she is depicted as a typical provincial bourgeois girl who believes that she is too good for her own fate. She idealizes life of aristocracy but appears to ascribe more value to its external attributes than the higher layer of society actually does. She has to marry a petty clerk but never appreciates his genuine care for her. Instead, she manipulates her husband using his sense of guilt, which she provokes by her belief that she deserves a much better fortune and a social position. Unlike her, her husband is able to sacrifice his interests for her sake, for instance giving her the money he intended to spend for a rifle in order she could buy a dress to attend a ball. She constantly compares herself to women of higher rank and indulges in self-pity. There is a lot of pretense about her behavior, as she tries to disguise her lack of wealth. In fact, make-believe is the essence of her existence at the beginning because she attempts to appear a person who she is not in reality. She lives in the illusion that the world to which she does not belong is more beautiful and more passionate, while her daily existence is dull: “She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends” (Mopassant). Thus, her life is split in daydreaming and hated reality, of which her husband is part.

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Mathilde’s interests are superficial; she believes that beautiful garments are a source of happiness: “She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.”. As can be seen from the above example, she also has immature vision of relationship between a man and a woman. Men are meaningless figures for her, whose role is just to bring out her own attractiveness. Besides, she thinks that men exist only for providing things to a woman: money, attention, beautiful life. She is not prepared to give or express some genuine affection. She constantly calculates her husband’s reaction when she asks him for money, manipulation is her strategy. At the same time, she cannot be satisfied with what she has at the moment, and he is always the one to blame. She dreams about “men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings”.

Yet, when the financial situation changes drastically for worse and she has to face poverty and exhaustion, she realizes that her previous life was a blessing. When she and her husband appear under threat of total poverty and have to work hard for ten years in order to pay a debt, she turns out to be more committed and at the same time more humble than she was at the beginning of the story. As the author puts it, “Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she played her part heroically”. In the course of this struggle for survival she becomes a better wife because she realizes that she has some duties, not only whims. She has to refuse from her pride and arrogance and live the way of life of the people she once despised so much. Miraculously, she stops being ashamed of who she is, although she becomes older, less pretty and more miserable. In older times, she was horrified of the idea that she had no decent dress to put on and cared much about the opinion of those people who were higher in social rank. At the end of the story, however, she is not ashamed of approaching her aristocratic friend although she knows that she would look pathetic to her. Moreover, in her talk about paying the debt she appears proud of her own value and commitment that allowed the family to finish this long period of time.

Overall, it would be true to say that Mathilde transforms in a more mature woman in the course of her hardships. Apparently, she still craves beautiful life but she appears to become a more down-to-earth personality who has respect for herself and her husband for their labor. She no longer thinks that she is worse than women of higher class and is able to take her fortune with dignity. Even though she loses part of her previous beauty, this no longer is able to break or humiliate her. This allows to agree with the statement that troubles bring out more honorable qualities of Mathilde’s character.

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