Friday, March 2, 2012

THE NECKLACE BY GUY de Maupassant


THE WRITER: GUY de MAUPASSANT
·         He was born on August 5, 1850, Château de Miromesnil, near Dieppe, France. He died of Syphilis  on July 6, 1893 in  Paris. It is possible that his disease was congenital.

·     He was a French naturalist writer of short stories and novels. He is by generally considered  the greatest Frenchshort-story writer.

·        Guy received his first education from the church. At age 13, he was sent to a small seminary at Yvetot that took both lay and clerical pupils. He felt a decided dislike for this way of life and intentionally engineered his own expulsion for some trivial offense in 1868.

·        His mother asked Gustave Flaubert to keep an eye on him at a point in time. This was the beginning of the apprenticeship that was the making of Maupassant the writer.

·          Whenever Flaubert was staying in Paris, he used to invite Maupassant to lunch on Sundays, lecture him on prose style, and correct his youthful literary exercises. He also introduced him to some of the leading writers of the time like Émile Zola, Ivan Turgenev, Edmond Goncourt, and Henry James.

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·  "Maupassant's work is thoroughly realistic. His characters inhabit a world of material desires and sensual appetites in which lust, greed, and ambition are the driving forces, and any higher feelings are either absent or doomed to cruel disappointment."

·         The tragic power of many of the stories derives from the fact that Maupassant presents his characters, poor people or rich bourgeois, as the victims of ironic necessity, crushed by a fate that they have dared to defy yet still struggling against it hopelessly.

ABOUT THE NECKLACE

·     It was first published in the Paris newspaper Le Gaulois on February 17, 1884, and was subsequently included in his 1885 collection of short stories Tales of Day and Night (Contes dejour et de la nuit).

·         It was an instant success, and it has become his most widely read and anthologized story.

·         In addition to its well-rounded characters, tight plotting, wealth of detail, and keen social commentary, ''The Necklace'' is conspicuous for its surprise ending, in which a plot twist at the end of the story completely changes the story's meaning

·         Flaubert’s influence on Maupassant is evident in “The Necklace.”

·         The story is in many ways similar to Madame Bovary.

·         Both works, for example, revolve around attractive yet dissatisfied young women who seek to escape their destinies.

·         More important, both works are also among the finest examples of realist fiction, a style of writing first appearing in the mid nineteenth century that sought to expose the grittier realities of ordinary people’s lives.

·         Above all else, Maupassant sought to explore the deeper meanings of everyday events, and his writing style has influenced other literary giants such as Anton Chekhov.


STYLE

Style refers to the manner in which a writer writes or send his message across. Remember that every literary piece has two major parts: the "what" and the "how." The what refers to the content or the message the writer wishes to put across and the how refers to the manner in which the writer does this. Thus, the manner has to do with style.


SATIRE
·         What is a satire?: It is an artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement.

IRONY
Irony, is a literary technique used to express a statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.
 There are three types of irony:  Verbal, dramatic, and situational.

 Verbal irony is when what is said is the opposite of what is meant.

 Dramatic irony, refers to situations when the audience to perceive or know something a character does not know. This normally creates suspense  and thus, enhancing the tension  in the story.

Situational irony, the outcome that turns out to be very different from what is expected.

Irony in the necklace

An example of irony in the Necklace is mainly as a result of the story's surprise ending. This is mainly as a result of situational irony.

Secondly, it is an irony that Mme Loisel seem to have become confident after she lost everything and looks very rusty.

Also, it is an irony that Mme Loisel exchanges her previous life for just one day of enjoyment.


SYMBOL

The Necklace: The necklace, beautiful but worthless, represents the power of perception and the split between appearances and reality 

 The Flowers: they seem to oppose what the Necklace stands for.

Madame Forestier represents those who seem to give the impression that they are rich but in actual fact what they have is only a paste of the real thing

  Madame Loisel: present people who so much emphasis on the material things of life and the consequences they face from having such a life

CONTRAST
Notice the contrast between her dress and the shoal she uses to cover herself and the car they take home.

Apart from this the narrator employs what we call a faux pas (miscalculation) and it is this miscalculation the part of Mme Loisel and her husband that causes them to experience all the things that happen to them after the loss of the Necklace.

 


FAUX PAS: a miscalculation. Where does that occur in the story?

Realism 

Maupaussant believed that fiction should convey reality as accurately as possible. He focused on presenting the objective rather than focusing on psychological exploration or romantic descriptions. Thus he structured his stories and novels around clearly defined plot lines and specific, observable details.

 However, he argued that calling fiction “realistic” was not correct. All work of fiction according to him was an illusion. He maintained that focused observation could reveal new depths and perspectives to even the most unremarkable aspects of life. 

“The Necklace” shows Maupassant’s pre-occupation with facts and observations. Rather than explore Mathilde’s yearning for wealth or unhappiness with her life, Maupaussant just tells us about her unhappiness and her desires. Note that he provides no moral commentary or explanation about Mathilde’s reaction to Mme Forestier's statement. The narrator simply reports events as they occurred. 

Thematic Issues 

Deceptiveness of appearances (Not everything that glitters is gold).


The story is a critique on vanity or materialism:The moral lesson to be learned from “The Necklace” is that a person will pay dearly for coveting false values, and a person’s preoccupation with appearances and materialism is fruitless and vain.

OTHER MATTERS
The story is set in late nineteenth century France. Maupassant uses the limited omniscient narrator. Utilizing this point of view enables his readers to appreciate the changes that take place in her character. 



I will be waiting for your questions

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