Comparison of Irony
These two stories are the ones where we can clearly idealize the sense of irony that happen the protagonists of the stories. Chrysanthemums by Steinbeck provide us an insight of a women Elisa who is lonely by heart and feels outside this world. She has nothing to do with all the things going around in this world. She lives in her home and loves gardening. Her husband is not a loving person and she like a patient woman as accepted this fact and has allowed his husbands thought to dominate hers. She doesn’t complain about her marriage life which is incomplete. And she sees a change when a stranger puts life in his deadly heart for sometime and let her believe that she deserve much more than what she is living. The other story by Maupassant, called “the Necklace”, also provides us the perception of irony of woman who always complain about herself being so poor and didn’t accepted his stature in the society. Her ideas of life were quite unusual and she really thought that her beautifulness should provide her good life in the society. She never believed in the social classes and perceived the incidents quite awkwardly.
The first story provides us the plot for the selflessness a woman holds. The story is written around a woman named Elisa who lives with her husband who doesn’t really have any interest in her marriage life. Still more, Elisa quite satisfyingly overshadowed her thoughts beyond her husband. She made her life around the plants and gardening. She didn’t have a child and her husband never wanted that too, so she felt the plants to be very close to her. No matter what, the emotional attachment with the plants could never make up the irony of not having a child. But still she went on by with her life. She loved chrysanthemums and had planted them in her garden. Then one day when her husband was on work, a stranger came to visit her.
From until now, we can clearly feel for Elisa being lonely. She has no desires, she don’t seem to have any wishes to come true. The behaviour of her husband towards her was quite unethical. This made her felt deep inside that the people doesn’t care for her. They don’t want to indulge with people and it is only the plants that could please her in all the way they could. But the Tinker, stranger, made an entry to her life at this stage. He indulged her into talk and finally got into the weak points of Elisa. Elisa was a simple woman and was overjoyed when Tinker started to talk about her plants. Tinker figured out that this is the only way he could get some benefit from this woman.
Tinker cleverly talked about chrysanthemums and appreciated her work in keeping the garden in good shape. Elisa was very pleased to hear and was very happy that someone at last was having interest in what she does. Tinker again cleverly diverted her mind by saying that he works for a lady who also wanted chrysanthemums. Elisa gave some chrysanthemums seed to Tinker and also some money in case Tinker should see some chrysanthemums seeds somewhere else and take them to her. This all provided a great strength in her life. A small meeting was all she required. A little expression of appraisal was enough to charge her to live her life beautifully. Her husband and came and they were ready to go out for dinner.
It was now when Elisa heart shattered as she saw her pots which she gave to Tinker in the middle of the road. She became grieved and quite. A hope in her life was now gone again. She felt fool and everything was over to him. This is all that could have hurt her. She required nothing from anyone and still some person showed up and played with her innocence. A little sense of happiness was what she required and in the end she got even more grieved with her life. It is an irony when we all see people who try to have advantages of someone who is not worthy for that. Elisa shouldn’t have been treated like that. Some people perceive things differently and Elisa was one of them and still she was on the other side. The character of Elisa is an unusual character as we don’t often see this kind of person who is so vulnerable and soft. The irony Elisa had was enough for her to get back with her original life which had nothing to offer and she again became contented with that.
The next story “The Necklace” is common tragedy of life. The social classes and the differences that are created by these social classes most of the times provide scenario where something bad has to happen. The story is about another woman Mathilde who was young and very beautiful and required full attention. Unfortunately to start with, she was born in low class family. She could resist this social class difference but had no way to move ahead. But she had imagination. Imagination can sometimes gives positive response and motivation can also provide the way of destruction. The later happened to Mathilde due to her daydreaming. She was all the times thinking of the richness. She always thought to have big money and costly clothes and a luxurious life. It all made her to move away from realities. She married to a clerk to mediocre family who can never fulfill her expensive desires.
The circle of interest of Mathilde was only the expensive things. She never cared of her husband who was very caring and loving and always tried to make his wife contented but failed. The story continues as Mathilde borrowed a necklace to wear at some place. This was how she believed can feel a part of social high class and people were appreciate her for being rich. When things matter much then the emotional relationships, some bad incidents start to happen. The necklace was lost by Mathilde. A little act of screening was enough to let her go back to his original life with more grief.
She now has to pay debt which she owed to the owner of the necklace. She, who believed herself to be so special, was there to work for pennies. She now had to work in other people houses which she never dreamed of. She worked around ten years to pay that debt. A little step of greed and honour made her to suffer whole of her life. All the sense of beauty and grace and richness was all gone when she realized what unfortunate act she committed.
Here we can see the last story quite differently in two forms. First we can feel for Mathilde, as she had desires of her life. She wanted to be rich but never did. She didn’t do anything wrong when she thought she has to be rich. Anyone can have dreams as this is what makes the man to move forward. But working for ten years to pay for the debt is an irony too. That’s all as to happen when we run after those things which don’t worth that much. A saying “All that glitters is not gold” purposely defines this situation. Mathilde never looked towards her loving husband for all the emotions he had for her. She was never contented with her life and in the end suffered.
Both the stories provide different ironies. We can all feel for Elisa for being so contented with her life when she had a conversation with the Tinker and when she saw pots on the road which Tinker purposely dropped. But on the other hand we can not feel anything for Mathilde as she was never comfortable with her life and saw this too much happening around her.
Maupassant, Guy de. The Necklace and Other Short Stories. New York: Dover Publications, 1992.
Maupassant, Guy de. Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace”: A Study Guide from Gale’s “Short Stories for Students”. New York: The Gale Group, 2002.
Steinbeck, John. John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”: A Study Guide from Gale’s “Short Stories for Students”. New York: The Gale Group, 2002.
Steinbeck, John. The Chrysanthemums and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1995.
Chrysanthemums Reviews, Summaries, Synopses & Abstracts.