The Necklace by Guy De Maupassant is an astonishing short story capturing readers’ attention with its realistic plot and an unexpected twist in the end. This article will focus on describing The Necklace’s main characters. So, who is the protagonist in The Necklace? Keep reading to find out more about Mathilde Loisel, Monsieur Loisel, and Madame Forestier.
Mathilde Loisel is the main character of the story. She is a young married woman who is quite pretty and charming. Madame Loisel was blessed with physical beauty, yet not with the financial benefits. She is married to a “simple clerk” and lives with him in a shabby apartment. Therefore, she believes that her good looks will lead her to her dream – wealth and respect. Her beauty and lack of sufficient (in her opinion) finances make her dissatisfied with her life.
She’s so obsessed with the idea of immense wealth that she doesn’t notice anything pleasant around her. Mathilde’s life is full of pain, envy, and greed. The only time she feels genuinely happy is at the ball, hosted by her husband’s boss. This one night will ruin the next ten years of her life.
With that being said, Mathilde is The Necklace’s protagonist and antagonist. All of the problems and conflicts that have happened in her life were the product of her actions. Therefore, she hurts herself with her actions, making herself The Necklace’s antagonist.
Mathilde Loisel’s Quotes
- “She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education.”
(The Necklace, p.1)
- “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.”
(The Necklace, p.1)
- “The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her.”
(The Necklace, p. 3)
- “Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it.”
(The Necklace, p. 5)
Monsieur Loisel is one of The Necklace’s main characters and Mathilde’s husband. He works as a clerk in the Ministry of Education. While Mathilde is not thrilled about having a simple clerk as a husband and living in a shabby apartment, Monsieur Loisel seems content with everything. He serves as the main character foil for Matilda, for their characters, needs, and desires are contrasted continuously in the text. Moreover, he never wishes for more (wealth/luxury).
He seems to love his wife genuinely. Monsieur Loisel is ready to do anything it takes to please her. Firstly, he got them invitations to a ball and bought Mathilde a dress. As a loving husband, when the necklace was lost, he helped search for it and, eventually, paid for it.
Monsieur Loisel’s willingness to please his wife becomes his downfall. Mathilde is never satisfied with anything. As the necklace is lost, he devises a plan to purchase a new one, spends his savings on buying it, and goes into debt.
What is fascinating about the character is his sacrifices. In literary works, especially of the 19th century, women were more prone to have this trait. However, Maupassant had it switched. In his story, the woman becomes an eccentric antagonist who wants to have fun and, eventually, brings trouble upon herself. The man is silent support, ready to do everything for the partner.
Monsieur Loisel’s Quotes
- “…and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education.”
(The Necklace, p.1)
- “When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: “Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?”…”
(The Necklace, p. 1)
- “He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays. Nevertheless he said: “Very well. I’ll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nice dress with the money.”
(The Necklace, p. 2)
Madame Forestier is a friend of Mathilde. She is a wealthy woman. Therefore, it is safe to assume that she has a lot of jewelry to borrow. So, that’s what Mathilde does before the ball. However, it seems that they don’t communicate quite often before it. Mathilde does not want to go to her wealthy friend and look at the luxury she can’t afford. Yet, when she does, Madame Forestier lends her gorgeous diamonds.
After the necklace was lost, Loisels needed time to find a substitution. Therefore, they informed Madame Forestier that the chain got broken, and they had it fixed. The late return of the jewels annoyed Madame the slightest.
Madame Forestier is comfortable as a rich woman. She no longer pays attention to the luxury the way Mathilde does. What’s more important, she has a fake necklace, while she can afford the real one. Why? Maybe, the reason is everyone else’s perception of the jewels. Why does she need a real necklace while everybody thinks that the fake one is real? The most significant fact is how the person is perceived, rather than who the person is.
Her lending of the jewelry becomes more ironic at the end of the story. Mathilde thought that Madame Forestier gave her the jewels out of generosity and friendship, and so did the readers. Although, in reality, it didn’t matter to her what would happen with the fake necklace.
Madame Forestier’s Quotes
- “Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels…”
(The Necklace, p. 2)
- “When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in a chilly voice: “You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it.”
(The Necklace, p.4)
- “It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.”
(The Necklace, p.5)
There are other characters in The Necklace, as well:
- M.Georges Ramponneau. He is the Minister of Education, which makes him Monsieur Loisel’s boss. Also, he is the one to throw the ball.
- The First Jeweler. The first jeweler’s name is on the box of the lost necklace. He claims to not sell the jewels to Madame Forestier but just the box. How come?
- The Second Jeweler. He is the jewelry store owner in which Loisels find an identical to the lost one necklace. Monsieur Loisel makes the payment arrangement with him.