By Guy de Maupassant
–Read India Initiative—
This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about
This short story was first published on 18 February 1884, in a French newspaper named Le-Gaulos. The story is known for its twisty ending … or you could say ironic end which indeed is the hallmark of De Maupassant’s writing style. The original French title of this book is ‘La Parure.’
The story revolves around, only a few protagonists. Prime being Madame Mathilde Loisel. Who always imagined herself to be an aristocrat despite being born in a lower middle-class family. And she describes that as an ‘accident of fate.’ She marries a lowly paid clerk who tries his best to make her happy but has little to offer. Through lots of begging at work, her husband is finally able to get an invitation for both of them to the ministry of education’s royal ball and party. Where, Mathilde refuses to go for she has nothing good to wear and desires not to be embarrassed there.
Her husband is upset to see her displeasure. So, he uses all his money that he has saved or was saving to buy a hunting rifle, and gives Mathilde four hundred francs to use. Mathilde buys a dress. But is still unhappy because she has no jewels to wear along with it. The couple does not have much money left. Her husband suggests that she should buy flowers to wear along with the dress. But Mathilde disagrees. He then gets a brainwave and suggests borrowing of jewelry from her friend Madame Jeanne Forestier for the evening. Mathilde jumps at the suggestion and visits her friend at once and borrows the fanciest peace. A huge scintillating diamond necklace.
They then go for the ball. Where, Matilde outshines other women both in looks and waltz. Even the minister makes a comment on her accomplishments. After attending the party when they return home early in the morning Mathilde discovers the ‘Necklace’ has gone missing. Mr Loisel immediately goes in search of the necklace but is unable to find it. The couple is aghast. They try to find a quick way to replace it. They go to a shop and buy a similar looking necklace for thirty six thousand francs. But in doing so the couple has to sell everything they owned to secure loans at high interest rates to pay for the it.
Ten years later, one day while walking along the Champs-Elysees, Mathilde suddenly sees Madame Forestier. She still looks as majestic as she looked ten years back. But she barely recognizes Mathilde. Mathilde is now haggard and in a shabby state. Where, she, really has to introduce herself. The two then get around talking. Mathilde recounts the story of losing and replacing of the necklace. In a way she also points a finger that it was only because of her friend Madame Forestier that she has lived a terrible life thereafter and during the last ten years.
Horrified Madame Forestier takes Mathilde’s hands in her own, explaining that the original necklace that she gave her was a fake one or ‘made of paste’ and was nothing more than five hundred francs.
One of the lessons out of the story is the dichotomy of ‘reality versus appearance.’ Mathilde is indeed beautiful outside. But inside she is discontented with her less-than-wealthy status and lifestyle. This reinforces the idea that wealth means happiness. Mathilde is gripped by a greed that contrasts with her husband’s kind generosity. She believes that material wealth will bring her joy, and her pride prevents her from admitting to Madame Forestier that she is not rich and that she has lost the necklace she borrowed.
Because of her pride and possession with wealth, Mathilde loses years of her life and spends all of her savings on replacing the necklace, only to find out that the original necklace was a fake one to begin with. The story demonstrates the value of honesty. If Mathilde had been honest to Madame Forestier she’d likely have been able to easily replace the necklace and enjoy the prosperity she wanted but never had.
The story has been adapted by many movies, sound tracks and stage plays. Some are:
- The Diamond Necklace 1921. A British film
- A String of Pearls. (1926) a chinese film
- Sound track played in All India Radio’s ‘Hawa Mahal’ in Hindi.
- Vennila Veedu a Tamil play uses a similar story line as a main theme.
Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi
Share it if you like it
Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:
NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION
Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)
IFSC code: BKID0006805
GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha
(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)