The Necklace Summary
‘The Necklace’ Introduction
About the Author
- Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a French writer, remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the naturalist school of writers. He who depicted human lives, destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms.
- Maupassant was a protege of Gustave Flaubert and his stories are characterised by economy of style and efficient, effortless denouements (outcomes).
- He wrote some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. His first published story, “Boule de Suif’ (“Ball of Fat”, 1880), is often considered his masterpiece.
- Guy De Maupassant penned his own epitaph: “I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing.”
Gist of the Story
Matilda, a young and pretty lady was bom into a family of clerks. She was simple and had married a pretty office clerk. She dared not to visit his friendly schoolmate’s house which was richly furnished. One day Mr Loisel and Mme Loisel got invitation of dinner from the Minister of Public Instruction. The husband felt elated to get the select invitation but the wife got irritated because she didn’t have proper clothes and jewellery to wear. Her husband gave her money to buy a dress. She got herself a very beautiful dress for the ball but was still sad as she didn’t have any jewellery to wear. At her husband’s suggestion, Mme Loisel went to Mme Forestier’s house, she got ready to lend her entire jewellery. However, she borrowed only the diamond necklace.
Mme Loisel danced at the ball with enthusiasm. She looked pretty. It made her swell with joy. After the party her husband wrapped her shoulders in modest wraps while exiting the gate. They hired a carriage and reached home instantly. She noticed that the necklace was missing. They looked all around but they didn’t find it, then Loisel found a chaplet of diamonds in a shop. It was exactly like the lost necklace, they bought it for thirty six thousand francs. They handed the jewel to Mme Forestier but she did not open it.
The Loisel sent away the maid and lived in rented room in an attic. They led miserable life for few years. This way, they repaid their loan. When Mrs Loisel met Mme Forestier while they were taking a walk she revealed that her false necklace was only worth five hundred francs.
‘The Necklace’ Summary
Brief Introduction: This story revolves around Matilda and her necklace. Matilda had to pay a lot for pomp and show.
Matilda, pretty young lady: Matilda was a very pretty, young lady. But, unfortunately, she was bom into a family of clerks. She did not want to be married either to a rich or distinguished person. She was simple but unhappy. She married to a petty clerk in the office of the Board of Education.
Pained at her miserable condition: She was pained at her miserable condition. She was bom for all delicacies and luxuries. She suffered from the poverty of her apartment, the shabby walls and the worn chairs. All these things always pained her. She loved attractive frocks, dishes and jewels.
An invitation card given to Mr. Loisel: Matilda’s husband, Mr. Loisel was given a printed card. It was an invitation card for a dinner organised by the Minister of Public Instruction. At this place, her husband worked. He anticipated that his wife would be delighted to get the invitation. But she was annoyed. She told that she had nothing to wear on such a big occasion. She would not go there without a dress. He should give it to others. Hearing this, his husband got annoyed. He was also frustrated to hear such a thing. Then he asked her about the cost of the dress. She told that it would cost 400 francs. He agreed to pay the amount which he had kept to buy a gun for his hunting parties.
Day of the Ball approached: The day of the ball approached. But Mme Loisel was sad, and anxious. Her husband asked her the reason of anxiety. He also asked her what the matter was. At this, Matilda replied that she had not got a jewel. It was a humiliating thing for her to be in the company of rich ladies. An idea struck in Mr. LoiseTs mind. He told her to borrow jewels from her friend, Mme Forestier.
Matilda reached at Mme Forestier’s house: Matilda reached at Mme Forestier’s house and narrated her the entire story. Hearing her story, Mme Forestier went to open her jewel case and told her to choose any item whatever she liked. After seeing a lot of items, Matilda’s eyes fell on a diamond necklace. Her friend gave it to her happily. She became happy and went to her house.
Mme Loisel more elegant: The Ball started. Mme Loisel was looking very beautiful and elegant. She was the most attractive personality in the party. All wanted to get mix up with her and also to be introduced to her.
Mme Loisel’s necklace got lost: After the party finished, all the people went home. Mme Loisel had a full view of herself in her glory before the mirror. She cried noisily. There was no necklace around her neck. The necklace was lost. Knowing this, Mr. Loisel went out of his room, searched the necklace into the streets, went to cab offices to police and also advertised in newspapers, offering a reward. But it did not work. No necklace was found. They were hopeless now. They went into the shop and found the same necklace valued at forty thousand francs. Ultimately, they got it for thirty-six thousand francs.
Miserable condition of Mme Loisel: To purchase the necklace, Mr. Loisel took eighteen thousand francs which his father had left and borrowed the rest. Later they purchased the same type of necklace and gave to Mme Forestier. She did not open the jewel box and kept it in the case. Later on, the scenario completely changed. Her condition became miserable. Now Mme Loisel washed the dishes and linen, did all the household chores and rented some rooms in the attic. Mr. Loisel worked in the evening at some merchant’s office. He did copying at five sous a page at night. They had to toil hard to pay their debts. After ten years, they paid all their debts.
False Necklace: One day, Mme Loisel met Mme Forestier while taking a walk. But she did not recognise her. Matilda told her that she had to do a lot of struggle due to her necklace. She also narrated the entire story pertaining to the necklace. She had to work hard to buy the lost necklace. It changed the entire course of action of her life. At this, Mme Forestier replied, ‘Oh! My poor Matilda, my necklace was false.’ It was not worth more than five hundred francs.
Lesson at a Glance
- Matilda (Mme Loisel) was a very pretty, young and attractive lady.
- Due to errors of destiny, she was bom into a family of clerks.
- It was her perception that she was only bom for all delicacies and luxuries of life.
- The poverty of her apartment, the shabby walls and the worn chairs always tortured and angered her.
- She only liked lavish food served in marvellous dishes.
- One day, her husband gave her a printed card. It was an invitation to a ball party.
- At this, she did not feel delighted. Instead she threw the invitation card upon the table.
- When her husband told about the party, she told that she didn’t have a proper dress. So, she could not attend this party.
- She also told her husband to give this card to some colleague whose wife was better fitted out.
- Mr. Loisel asked her about the cost of a good and fancy dress. She told him that it would cost four hundred francs.
- As the day of the ball approached, Mme Loisel was very anxious and dejected.
- After this, she told that she did not have a jewel to adorn herself with. Her look seems to be poverty-stricken. So she would not attend the party.
- Her husband also told to wear some natural flowers but she did not get ready.
- Then he advised her to borrow jewels from her friend Mme Forestier.
- She went to Mme Forestier’s house and told her about the necklace. Then she brought before Mme Loisel a large jewel-case.
- After going through a lot of items, she chose a superb necklace of diamonds. She was very happy after seeing this.
- When she asked her friend Mme Forestier about this, she replied affirmatively.
- Mme Loisel wore this and she was looking elegant and gracious. All the men looked at her and also wanted to have her company.
- She enjoyed the party and danced with more enthusiasm.
- After reaching her house when she removed the wraps from her shoulders before the glass, she found that there was no necklace around her neck. She cried suddenly.
- Mr. Loisel went out in search of the lost necklace. He went to the police, cab offices and also gave an advertisement in the newspapers.
- At the end of the day, they had become hopeless. Now, they went to a shop of the Palais-Royal and bought a necklace for thirty-six thousand francs.
- Apart from eighteen thousand francs of Mr. Loisel’s father, he borrowed the rest.
- She handed over the diamond necklace to Mme Forestier.
- Mme Loisel now knew the horrible life of necessity. To pay this debt, they sent away the maid, changed their lodgings and rented some rooms in an attic. She also washed the dishes, clothes and dishcloths etc.
- The husband also worked in evenings and put the books of some merchants in order.
- Mme Loisel was too old now. She had become a strong and hard woman. Now she spoke in a loud tone.
- One Sunday, she met a woman walking with a child. It was Mme Forestier.
- Now Matilda narrated the entire story of her miserable condition. And the necklace was only responsible for this.
- At this, Mme Forestier said that it was the false necklace. It was not worth than five hundred francs.
English The Necklace Important Questions and Answers
Very Short Answer Type Questions
When did the party end? What did Matilda find when she reached home?
The party ended at four o’clock in the morning. Matilda and her husband returned their home. She stood in front of the mirror to see herself again. But she was shocked to find that she had lost the necklace.
What would Matilda often dream of?
Matilda would often dream of all the delicacies, luxuries, elegant dinners, marvellous dishes, rich silver, beautiful dresses, jewels, adoration and a life of glory. She would escape into her dreams from the dullness of her very humble existence.
Why did Matilda throw the invitation spitefully?
Matilda was simply displeased when her husband showed the invitation. She felt humiliated and threw the invitation spitefully as she had nothing beautiful enough to wear at such a grand gathering.
Describe Mme Loisel’s success at the ball.
Do you think Mme Loisel had an enjoyable evening at the ball? Give reasons for your answer. [CBSE 2014]
Mme Loisel was the centre of attraction at the ball. Her beauty, her grace, her joy and the gorgeous smile captivated all. Men sought to be presented to her. She danced happily at her conquest of all.
How was Mme Loisel’s condition after ten years?
Ten years of poverty and hardship took away Matilda’s youth and beauty. Now she had become a strong and hard woman, who was poorly dressed with untidy hair and red ragged hands.
Why was Matilda’s friend astonished to see her at the end of the story?
Mme Forestier, Matilda’s friend, could not recognise her as she seemed to be an old and worn out poor woman. Matilda was no longer in her former beautiful and joyous self.
Comment on the use of irony in the text.
The irony in the story is based on the fact that the Loisels spend 10 years of toil and frugality paying for a necklace which turns out to be a cheap imitation.
Short Answer Type Questions
Why did Matilda think that she was born in a family of clerks due to some error of destiny?
Matilda was a young and beautiful lady with high dreams and aspirations. She had, no hopes, no fame and no wealth. She had lost all her hopes of marrying a rich man. Realising that her dreams are high and to fulfil those she should have been born into an affluent family, she termed her birth in the family of clerks some error of destiny.
What did Matilda and her husband do to find the necklace?
They checked into the folds of Matilda’s dress, her cloak and pockets. Her husband went back on the route to the party venue to search for the necklace. He returned at seven o’clock. Then he informed the police. He also gave an advertisement in the newspaper and also announced a reward. But the necklace was found nowhere.
Why did Matilda not like to visit her rich friends?
Matilda was bom in the family of clerks but her dreams were very high. She dreamt of a grand house, costly dishes, good dresses and jewels. She was disillusioned that she was not able to get them. When she visited her rich friend, she really suffered because she became intensely conscious of her poverty in the presence of her rich friend. She suffered more when she returned to her modest and miserable surroundings.
What excuse did Loisels put up to explain the delay in returning the necklace?
Loisels had lost the necklace and needed time to find an identical one. Thus, Loisels wrote a letter to Mme Forestier with an excuse that the clasp of the necklace was broken and they needed time to get it repaired.
How did Loisels manage to pay for the necklace?
The necklace cost Loisels thirty six thousand francs. Loisel had to chip in his entire inheritance of eighteen thousand francs and the rest he had to borrow from the usurers.
How did Mme Loisel now know the life of necessity? [CBSE 2016]
To pay the debt of eighteen thousand francs, Loisels let go of their decent living. They lived
in impoverished neighbourhood. Matilda had to cook, clean, wash, mend, bring water and bargain with the butcher and grocer. Her husband worked day and night to save every sou.
What do you think of Mme Loisel as a husband? Cite instances from the text to support your answer.
Mme Loisel was a caring and supportive husband. He sacrificed his wishes and the money he inherited from his father for his wife. This can be shown when he gave four hundred francs saved for the gun to her wife so that she could buy a new dress for Minister’s ball.
Essay Type Questions
Do you think that Matilda’s dream was fulfilled at the Ball party? Why did the people in the party want to mix up with her?
Matilda always believed in pomp and show although her means did not support her. After getting invitation for the Ball party, she wanted to present herself for this occasion. She did not want to show her poverty-stricken image amidst the rich ladies and gentlemen of the society. To attend this party, she purchased a new costume. Later on, she changed her mind and expressed her desire for a jewel. It was beyond the means of Mr. Loisel. So, he advised her to take the necklace from her friend. Matilda also took the necklace from her friend, Mme Forestier and wore at the Ball party. She enjoyed the party a lot and danced with much enthusiasm. Her only intention was to get admiration from others. This way Matilda’s dream was fulfilled.
Matilda was very elegant and graceful. She was the most beautiful lady. That is why all the men noticed her. All the people asked her name and wanted to mix up with her. Her personality was really appealing.
Mme Loisel’s disposition invites her doom. Comment in the context of the text you’ve read.
Mme Loisel belongs to a family of clerks. Her existence is quite average. They live on meagre income, enough for basic needs but not to fulfil aspirations. She gets married to a clerk and is so caught up with her dreams of wealth and pleasure that she is out of touch with the truths of her real life. In order to keep up appearances just to flatter her pride, she blows up four hundred francs on a gorgeous dress. And, not contented, she goes on borrowing a necklace from her friend. And, all of this is just to impress the wealthy and the rich with her beauty and glamour. No doubt, her pride is flattered and her wish of fine dining, expensive dresses and jewels satisfied but at a great price. Unfortunately, the necklace is lost and the couple has to cough up their entire inheritance and borrow as well to replace it. Repayment of the debt eats away the next ten years of their youth. They live poor. All the household chores and cares of a life of poverty visit them. Hence, her disposition invites her doom.
Mme Forestier proved to be a true friend. Elucidate. [CBSE 2015]
Mme Forestier turns out to be an interesting character. She plays a vital role in the story.
As a friend to Matilda, we find her to be really genuine as she helps Matilda in the hour of her need. When Mme Loisel needs to borrow jewels, she turns to Mme Forestier. Mme Forestier does not refuse. Displaying her generosity, she opens up the entire array of her jewels for Matilda to choose from. Also, she is considerate when Loisels delay the return of the necklace. Surprisingly, at the end of the story, she concludes the entire narrative. Without even a moment’s hesitation, she reveals to Matilda that her necklace was just a fake. She is not at all worried in the light of the fact that she may have to return the necklace. It shows her honesty. Rather, she, like a true friend, feels bad for Matilda at her unnecessary suffering. We find her sympathising with Mme Loisel. She is indeed a gem of a friend.
Do you think the story is aptly titled? Justify your answer.
The whole narrative of the story ‘ The Necklace’ revolves around a young woman Matilda, who in her foolish pride borrows a necklace inviting misery and sorrow for herself as well as for her husband. The necklace has lost and the Loisels fall into a tremendous debt. They spend the next ten years of their life in paying debt for the replacement of the lost necklace. Their entire life moves around impoverished, everyday saga of misery and hunger and the necklace, in fact, changes the very course of their life. Also, it is against the backdrop of the necklace that Matilda’s pride and dishonesty are highlighted. At the same time, the necklace serves a twist at the end as it turns out to be a fake one. The story is, hence, most aptly titled as the necklace is, in fact, the leading character of this ironic tale of desire, the doom and the tragedy.
English The Necklace Textbook Questions and Answers
Read and Find Out (Page – 39)
1. What kind of person is Mme Loisel? Why is she always unhappy?
Mme Loisel was a pretty young lady born in a family of clerks. She felt that she was born for all the delicacies and luxuries. Instead, she had to live a simple and economical life. She completely disliked her circumstances. This made her angry and unhappy.
2. What kind of a person is her husband?
Her husband was a clerk in the office of the Board of Education. Unlike Mme Loisel, he was content with his life. While Mme Loisel used to suffer thinking about luxuries and delicacies, he could derive great sense of satisfaction even from a humble ‘potpie’. He was also a loving husband, as is seen from his behaviour towards his wife. He readily parted with the four hundred francs that he had saved to buy a gun, so that Mme Loisel would be able to wear a nice dress to the Minister’s ball. This shows that his wife’s happiness was more important to him.
Readand Find Out (Page – 41)
1. What fresh problem now disturbs Mme Loisel?
After buying a pretty dress, Mme Loisel was bothered by yet another problem. She had no jewel to adorn herself with. She said that she would have a poverty-stricken look. Her husband suggested that she should wear some natural flowers. However, she refused and said that there was nothing more humiliating than to have a shabby air in the midst of rich women.
2. How is the problem solved?
Mme Loisel’s husband solved this problem. He told his wife to request her friend, Mme Forestier to lend her some jewels. When she went to Mme Forestier, the latter brought a jewel case, so that Mme Loisel could choose whichever jewels she liked.
Rand Find Out (Page – 42)
1. What do M. and Mme Loisel do next?
When M. and Mme Loisel realized that the necklace was missing, they tried finding out where she could have lost it. They concluded that it could have been dropped in the cab. They did not know its number. Therefore, Loisel went over the track where they had walked. When he found nothing, he went to the police and to the cab offices. He even put an advertisement in the newspapers, offering a reward. He then asked Matilda to write a letter to Mme Forestier, explaining that she had broken the clasp of the necklace and would get it repaired. This gave them time to find the necklace. However, they eventually decided to replace the necklace with a new one.
2. How do they replace the necklace?
Loisel asked Matilda to write a letter to Mme Forestier, explaining that she had broken the clasp of the necklace and would get it repaired. They found a chaplet of diamonds in a shop of the Palais-Royal. This necklace seemed to be exactly like the one that had been lost. They could buy it for thirty-six thousand francs. Loisel had eighteen thousand francs, which his father had left him. He borrowed the rest from various sources. Finally, he bought the necklace and gave it to Matilda for her to take it back to Mme Forestier.
Think about It
1. The course of the Loisel’s life changed due to the necklace. Comment.
The course of the Loisel’s life changed due to the necklace. After replacing the lost necklace with a new one, they had to repay all the money that they had borrowed to buy the new necklace. They sent away the maid and changed their lodgings. They rented some rooms in an attic. Matilda learnt the odious work of a kitchen. She washed the dishes, soiled linen, their clothes and dishcloths. She took down the refuse to the street each morning and brought up the water, stopping at each landing to catch her breath. She went to the grocer’s, the butcher’s, and the fruiterer’s, with her basket on her arm, shopping, haggling to save her money. Loisel worked in the evenings, putting the books of some merchants in order. At night, he did copying at five sous a page. This lasted for ten years, and at the end of the said period, they were able to repay their lenders.
2. What was the cause of Matilda’s ruin? How could she have avoided it?
The cause of Matilda’s ruin was her dissatisfaction with whatever life offered to her. She was always unhappy. She felt that she was bom for all the delicacies and luxuries. She disliked her circumstances.
She could have avoided this situation by being content with what she had.
3. What would have happened to Matilda if she had confessed to her friend that she had lost her necklace?
If Matilda would have confessed to her friend that she had lost her necklace, she might have been in lesser trouble than what she faced after having replaced the necklace. Her friend would definitely be angry with her. Most probably, she would have asked Matilda to replace it. She would have given her the details from where she had bought the necklace and how much it had cost her. Matilda would thus have known that the jewels in the necklace were not real diamonds. It would have cost her a far lesser amount to replace it. Matilda would thus have saved herself and her husband from all the troubles they went through.
4. If you were caught in a situation like this, how would you have dealt with it?
This question requires you to use your own perspective as well as your analytical skills. The answer to the question would vary from one person to another. It is suggested that you read the text carefully and try attempting it on your own.
Talk about It
1. The characters in this story speak in English. Do you think this is their language? What clues are there in the story about the language its characters must be speaking in?
The characters in the story speak in English but this is not their language. They must be speaking French and there are many clues from which it can be proved. Like the currency they used was ‘francs’, the Minister’s ball invination carried some specific French words, the name of the jewellery shop Palais-Royal and the names of the characters in the story, shows the French backdrop.
2. Honesty is the best policy.
Do it yourself.
3. We should be content with what life gives us.
Do it yourself.