Mathilde Loisel, the main character of "The Necklace," is a 19th century French version of a desperate housewife. Because she's a woman in a man's world, she has almost no control over her life. She finds herself married to a husband she doesn't care for, and cooped up in a house she despises. What she wants more than anything else is to be desirable to other men. And what's particularly irritating is that she has all the "womanly virtues" she needs in order to be desirable: she's charming, graceful, beautiful. She's just doesn't have the necessary wealth. Does Mathilde Loisel capture the tragic plight of the modern, middle-class woman? Is she a victim of the patriarchal society in which she lives? Or is she just a shallow and materialistic character?
Questions About Women and Femininity
- In what ways is Mathilde a typical woman according to the story? How are Mathilde's desires feminine desires?
- How might Mathilde's being a woman be a cause of her unhappiness? Do you think it is the primary cause of her unhappiness? Why or why not?
- How are wealth and femininity connected in "The Necklace"? Where in the story do you see a connection?
- Does "The Necklace" paint a bad picture of women?
Chew on This
Mathilde's desires are "feminine," because what most interests her is attracting male attention.
Wealth and femininity are intimately bound together in "The Necklace."