Social Class as the Theme of The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant: A Literary Realism Approach
Guy de Maupassant is considered as a famous realist author. The Necklace, a short story that he writes in a style called Literary Realism. Maupassant duplicates the reality of French Society in 19-th by observing considering he is a realist. In this analysis, I would like to reveal how The Necklace could reflect the reality of 19th century of French Society and the relation with social class as the theme of this story.
Maupassant portrays his observation in 19-th century of French society by Mathilde as the representative of the middle-class women in this society, where caste or social class was classified economically. Maupassant draws Mathilde as a woman who cannot afford fancy things because she is just a middle-class woman that is married to a little clerk. So, they have no much money. In this topic, Maupassant writes:
“…and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class,…”.
From those passage we can imply that social class is the theme of The Necklace.
Discussing about Literary Realism approach in this short story, which is Maupassant as the one of a realist in 19th-century; considering realism movement started to develop in 19th-century in French Literature, and The Necklace was published in 1884— we can consider that The Necklace is based on the reality. The romantics and realists alike wrote of the painful discovery of self-awareness and the torments of the inner life and, in differing degrees, concerned themselves with contemporary social mores. By this statement, Mathilde as the main character is drawn by Maupassant to be tormented because of degress differ in her society, social class. He writes:
“She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her…”
Cohen (2016) in his article writes that women of the middle and upper classes did not work, instead being taken care of by their husbands. Thus, many of the Loisels’ problems involve money.²
In line with Cohen, Grear (2002) reveals that working women of this time (19th-century of French Society) generally did work outside the home. They would manage household affairs and the children.³ Those statements are reflected of Maupassant’s portrait of Mathilde’s daily life, has no job and only doing household works. Maupassant mentiones:
“The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in mind…”
¹Denis R. Goitem and Anne Grynberd (2nd ed.). “French Literature”. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Oct 2018. Accessed on November 1st, 2018.
²Madeline Cohen and Aaron Suduiko ed. “The Necklace: The Necklace Summary and Analysis. GradeSaver, 29 October 2016 Web. Accessed on November 1st, 2018.
³Kelly Grear. “Nineteenth Century French Working Women: Love, Marriage and Children. (University of Kentucky: Sara Hinds, 2002). www.uky.edu. Accessed on November 1st, 2018.