Appearance in The Necklace

Have you ever been so worried about your appearance and the way other people viewed you that it affected your thoughts and actions? In the short story “The Necklace” written by Guy de Maupassant, Mathilde Loisel is a woman who lives every day with dissatisfaction towards her social class and appearance. She believes that she deserves much more than she possesses. Mathilde Loisel’s value and amount of importance that she gives to a worthless diamond necklace symbolizes all that she dosent have and all that she desires in life.

Through the author’s use of tone and characterization the story explores the way that if one puts their appearance as their primary concern it will affect their actions, thoughts, and overall happiness.

Throughout the story the author uses tone to express his view towards the way Mathilde Loisel sees her own appearance and the way she acts. On the night of the party, Madame Loisel’s beautiful appearance, that she worked so hard on, started to affect her personality and actions.

The author describes her dancing as, “intoxicated”, “enraptured, and “carried away” (de Maupassant 68). All of these words provide a negative connotation which conveys the author’s disapproving tone toward Madame Loisel’s appearance.

The words that the author uses and the tone associated this those words present an idea that Madame Loisel’s physical appearance at the party make he forget who she really is, and that night, she started to act much more wild, and carried away. Another example of the authors tone is at the beginning of the story when he describes Madame Loisel as, “one of those pretty, charming young women” (de Maupassant 686).

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When the author generalizes her as “one of those” it gives off a tone that she is just commonly pretty and not to special. This contracts what Madame Loisel thinks of her own appearance. She thinks she is so deserving of a luxurious life, but the authors statement and tone shows what he truly thinks of her appearance. Overall the authors tone shows his opinion and view towards the actions and appearance of Madame Loisel.

Maupassant also expresses the theme of appearance through characterization by indirectly and directly stating Madame Loisel’s words and showing her actions. When Mr. Loisel asks his wife why she is not happy about the party invitation, she responds saying, “I haven’t a thing to wear. How could I go?” (de Maupassant 687). This shows Madame Loisel’s character in a way that lets the reader know she puts her appearance as her primary concern, she lets it affect the way she reacts to something that should be exciting. The indirect characterization from what she says also shows how her happiness is affected by her appearance and how others view her.

Also, when the author is explaining how Madame Loisel has no jewels or wardrobe he adds, “and those were the only things that she loved- she felt she was made for them” (de Maupassant). Through this piece of characterization, the vanity of Madame Loisel is seen, and how she is overly obsessed with some of the least important things in life. Also the author uses characterization to describe the foolish personality that Madame Loisel has. Altogether, the characterization and details about Madame Loisel contributes to the fact that her personality is affected by her appearance, and she gets the most satisfaction and happiness from the things the mean the least in life.

In the story, “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, the author uses tone and characterization to show the significance of how ones view of their own appearance can change the way they act and think. Mathilde Loisel’s excessive pride and admiration in her own appearance causes her to be conceited and arrogant which was proven over the course of the story through what the author says and what Mathilde says. The main take away theme is that no one should let their physical appearance and materialistic thing define who they are and their personality.

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Appearance in The Necklace. (2022, Mar 07). Retrieved from

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