The story “The Necklace” deals with the irresistible temptation to outshine and drastic limitations. Matilda is the central character of the story. She herself suggests that there is a very narrow margin between safety and disaster. A mere stroke of good or bad fortune can change the entire course of one’s life.
Matilda is an extraordinarily beautiful young woman, possessing all charms of a high-class family. She would have been readily accepted by any rich man of high rank and status but perhaps by an error of destiny, she is born in a family of clerks and is compelled to marry a clerk of low status. She always imagines herself living in well furnished apartments like a rich lady attended upon by servants.
Her husband Loisel, a mere clerk, realizes her feelings and thinks her justified to some extent. He tries to please her by different methods. Matilda being highly ambitious is greatly dissatisfied by her poor conditions. She dreams of well-furnished drawing rooms, beautiful dresses, costly jewels, and other luxuries of life. Whenever she returns after visiting her rich friend, her sense of deprivation aggravates.
One day her husband, Loisel returns home happy as he has managed to procure an invitation card to a dance party being held at the minister’s residence. But instead of being happy Matlida begins to weep, as she has no suitable dress to wear on the occasion. She suggests her husband give an invitation to some other friend whose wife should have a befitting dress for the occasion. Loisel had saved 400 francs to purchase a hunting gun that he offers to Matilda to purchase a dress. He suggests she borrow some ornaments for the occasion from her rich friend Forestier. The idea is liked by Matilda and she brings a diamond necklace from her friend that greatly adds to her grace. The necklace matches superbly with her dress hence she happily prepares herself to attend the party.
On the day of the party, she is a great success as her captivating personality attracts the attention of all men. She becomes the center of attraction for everybody at the party. Everybody tries to be introduced to her. Many young men desire to dance with her. She enjoys her glorious success and admiration by men. But in the ecstasy of her charms and success, she loses her necklace as it falls somewhere in the hustle and bustle of the party.
Before changing her dress she stands before the mirror to have a last look at her charming personality with a new dress and necklace that has made her the most attractive figure at the party. But she is stunned and greatly shocked to see the necklace missing from her neck. She makes a cry of horror and her husband comes at once to help her They search for the necklace in the clothes and begin to guess where it could have fallen.
Loisel asks his wife to write Lady Forestier that the necklace is under repair as its clasp is broken. They decided to replace the necklace. They go over to many shops and at last succeed in finding a chaplet that exactly resembles the diamond necklace they have lost. Its price is thirty-six thousand francs which are beyond their meager resources. Loisel has inherited eighteen thousand francs from his father. The other eighteen thousand hie borrows from various agencies on interest. They purchased the necklace with genuine diamonds and return it to lady Forestier without telling her that they have replaced it at such a high cost.
To repay the amount of eighteen thousand they have to change the style of their life, they previously enjoyed. They change their apartment and shift to slum areas. She dismisses her part-time maidservant who washed her clothes and utensils. Now she fetches water from a distance. Her husband has to work overtime to earn additional income to pay the installments of debt.
They have to undergo a tough and rough life for ten long years to pay for the mishap that results from the loss of the necklace. Both husband and wife lose their youth and good looks much before the usual age. Matilda has to do all domestic work herself. Hard work, the pressure of debt, and the shock of heavy loss tell upon their health. However, after ten years they clear the debts, but they clear it at the cost of their youth and ambitions of their bright future.
One Sunday, Matilda takes a walk in a park in Paris when she suddenly sees Madame Forestier with her child. She still looks fresh and quite young. Her beauty and charms have not faded so far, whereas Matilda looks altogether a different woman from the one she used to be in her youth time.
Matilda now decides to tell her all as the crisis is over and they have already cleared the debts. Matilda tells her name and reminds her about the past. She explains how the borrowed necklace changed the course of their life and has made them suffer miserable life for ten long years. Madame Forestier is touched and takes both her hands with love and replies that the necklace was hardly worth five hundred francs as it was an imitation. This discovery is another great shock to Matilda as her entire life has been affected by a single accident.
The author says: How would it have been if she had not lost that necklace! Who knows? How singular is life and how full of changes! It is a tragedy brought upon Matilda and her husband by the power of destiny and not because of any failure on her part. In other words, she is made the victim of cruel destiny.
Role of Destiny
Luck is nothing but man’s weakness and lack of understanding. Sometimes luck is understood if things stand in favor of man and sometimes it is misunderstood because a minor incident, rather than just a mere chance changes the whole course of life, and the man appears to be a mere instrument. And sometimes man takes step thinking better but the result is quite drastic. Man appears only a plaything in the hands of luck.
A man is pushed suddenly into a world that is against his ambitions and desires. He has to fight strange circumstances produced as a result of mere chances where his fault cannot be determined. In this story, the mere chance of attending a party and the loss of the necklace, and the ignorance of its being fake mar the future of a beautiful woman who would have been loved and welcomed as the wife of a rich man. She suffers a lot for long ten years for a slight mistake. She has rather more sinned against than sinning. Hence the role of luck dominates in her life
Moral of story
The following moral lessons can be derived from this story. Unrealistic ambitions are the cause of our unhappiness. Man is generally misled by his ambitions and commits blunders for which he has to suffer throughout life. Beauty is vanishing and it should not be prided upon. The beauty of character is of far greater value than the beauty of physical features. A man can shine and set a good example to others by the beauty of character. A man should ace the circumstances and challenges of life heroically like Matilda and her husband THe life will pass, the beauty will vanish, but how you face the challenges of life will become a poor or shining example for other.