The purpose of a literary essay is to examine some aspect of a literary work. In this sample essay, Susie Student analyzes the theme of the short story, “The Necklace.”
Illusion and Reality in “The Necklace”
It is human nature to want the things we do not have. It is also true that many times we want what is not real – only the illusion of happiness. In “The Necklace,” Guy de Maupassant creates the story of a woman, Mathilde, who thinks happiness lies in having money and in being admired. In this story, the author’s theme of illusion and reality is told through his characters, symbolism, and irony.
The character of Mathilde is described as “…one of those pretty and charming girls, born by blunder of destiny into a family of employees” (1). In the setting of this story, one’s birth determines one’s fate. Mathilde’s great flaw is that she thinks she deserves more than the modest life she has. She wants a life more glamorous and exciting than her hardworking husband can provide. When she is able to live out her fantasy for one night, it all ends very badly with Mathilde and her husband losing their modest but comfortable life in order to pay off the results of her vanity.
Going into debt to pay off the cost of a valuable diamond necklace is necessary because Mathilde loses the necklace she borrows from her friend. Caught up in the illusion of her own fantasy, she is careless with the piece of jewelry, loses it, and then is forced to take out ruinous loans to buy another one. This object, the necklace, is a symbol for Mathilde’s values. She places value on pretty but useless things such as jewelry and fine clothes. The necklace could be said to symbolize Mathilde herself. It is charming and pretty, but it is ultimately worthless. Mathilde finds out that she has worked to pay off a worthless trinket at the end of the story. Her friend says, “Oh, my poor Mathilde. But mine (the diamonds) were false. At most they were worth five hundred francs!” (4). At the story’s resolution, Mathilde discovers the reality that what she valued so much turns