Significance of the Title of ‘The Necklace’

Guy de Maupassant used the simple title The Necklace to introduce his famous short story about a woman who loses her friends necklace and spends ten years of her life paying for the jewel. The simplicity of the title is common in many of Maupassant’s novels. He likes to pick out an element for the reader to focus on as significant. The necklace is significant for many reasons.It is symbolic of the materialism that misguides the main character, and it also reveals Maupassant’s theme of fatalism.

Maupassant uses the title The Necklace to pinpoint the necklace as a136noteworthy element of the story because it is a coveted object. By picking a possession as the title of the story, Maupassant is intending to point out that materialism is a focal point of the story. The necklace is representative of the riches and expensive material possessions that Mathilde wastes her time pining after. Importantly, the necklace that Mathilde borrows from her friend, instead being glamorous and satisfying, dooms her into a state of poverty and despair. Maupassant expresses Mathilde’s greed saying that when she first saw the necklace, “her heart began to beat covetously”, but Mathilde only enjoyed a very temporary satisfaction. Mathilde got the satisfaction of one night of being accepted among rich people, which in the end left her with ten years of suffering. Maupassant foreshadows the gloomy future saying that when the night ended “it was the end for her” and that the characters felt “appalled at the agonizing face of the future, at the black misery about to fail upon (them)”. The story is pessimistic and upsetting, and the emphasis is on the necklace, especially as the title reveals that emphasizing material things is harmful and fruitless.

The title encourages the reader to focus on the symbolism of the necklace in the story. The theme of fatalism is emphasized in this title, for each time the necklace is brought into the plot of the story, it involves an event where“fate had blundered” over some characters. The first time the necklace is brought up, Mathilde is borrowing the necklace from her friend, so that she,doomed into a middle class social status, can pretend for one night to be part of a more fortunate class of people. The next time the necklace is spoken of, it is the cause of a “fearful catastrophe”, its unfortunate disappearance which causes Mathilde lots of grief. Then, the final time the necklace is brought up, Mathilde discovers that, as fate would have it, the necklace she spent so long replacing was worthless. Fate interacts with the characters every time the necklace comes into the story, and the title helps to focus the reader in on the necklace’s implications.

Titles are often used to introduce the main idea of the work, and The Necklace is no different. Maupassant carefully chose to use an object as the main idea for the purpose of signalling the object out as important. The main idea is not expressed through the statement of the object itself; it is expressed through the purpose and through the necklace in the story. In this short story,there are many motifs and themes. However, the important ones, materialism and fatalism, are easily recognized because they revolve round the necklace.The reader knows to focus on these themes because they revolve round the necklace. The reader knows to focus on these themes because the title encourages the reader to analyze the interaction of the necklace in the plot.

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