Characters in a story can be classified as “dynamic” or “static”. Dynamic characters are characters that change as the story progresses. That is, they recognize, change with, or adjust to circumstances. Static characters, which can also be described as “flat”, are characters that are not well developed and remain fairly unchanged throughout the story. Usually static characters have minor roles in a story. In any literary work, it is absolutely essential to have characters, whether major or minor. It is also necessary to develop these characters through out the story.
Character development gives the reader insight to the more important meanings or lessons of the story. “A characteristic of `The Necklace’ is its extreme brevity: it is nine pages long. But this is not because all so-called extraneous details have been ruthlessly pared away. For the story is not as straightforward as it seems. The story-teller in `The Necklace’ is a ludic narrator, sometimes mischievously misleading his reader, and sometimes building suspense by indulgence in personal digression”. (Adamson) lessons are usually brought out by the events that take place within the story.
Looking at Guy De Maupassant’s piece “The Necklace”, we see a very clear development of the main and dynamic character is Mathidle. In the story, we see a change in her attitude about life. This change come about when she has to learn one of life’s little lessons the hard way. She and her husband are forced to live a life of hard work and struggle because of her own selfish desires. Mathilde changes from a woman who spends her time dreaming of all the riches and glory she doesn’t have, to realizing that she over looked all the riches she did have.
The story opens with the description of how miserable Mathilde is. Maupassant describes her as “suffering constantly, feeling herself destined for all delicacies and luxuries. ” (Roberts 4) She sits dreaming of silent rooms nicely decorated and her own private room, scented with perfume to have intimate “tete-a-tetes” with her closest friends. Then she is awakened from her own daze, only to realize that she is in her own grim apartment. In her eyes, she lives a tortured and unfair?life. Mathidle has a husband named Losiel. He is much the opposite of his wife.
He is completely content with his lifestyle. He seems to be a very passive person, who doesn’t let status or riches effect him. Yes, M. Loisel appreciates the little things. He also seems devoted to his wife. Of course, if he had the chance to be rich he would, but he doesn’t dwell on the fact that he is part of the middle class. He seems to be a hard worker and does his best to provide for his wife. He demonstrates is simplicity the one night at dinner Losiel and Mathilde sit down to eat. Mathidle is dreaming of fancy four course meals, while he is ecstatic because they are eating boiled beef.
Losiel is aware that his wife has not yet adjusted to her status. One night, he had come home from work very excited. He had worked extra hard to get he and his wife invited to one of the biggest parties ever. Losiel thought this would be please his wife, when in fact it only made her upset. Here was Losiel trying to please his wife and she just started to cry. This just goes to show how ungrateful she really is. When Losiel had inquired about why she was upset, she had said it was because she had nothing to wear.
She was hinting to her husband that she needed a dress. Then Losiel, because he wanted his wife to be happy had willingly given up his vacation money so his wife could have a dress to wear. Still, that wasn’t good enough for her. Mathilde wanted more. Luckily, Mathilde had a friend in the upper class. Mme Jeanne Forestier is the rich friend: the person you turn to when you need something absolutely fabulous to wear and someone who has everything Mathilde would love to have. Mathilde had gone to her friend and had asked to borrow jewelry for the occasion.
This just helped to prove her need to have more. When she arrived at her friends house she had many things to choose from. Mathilde had seen all kinds of things that delighted her but one thing in particular had caught her eye. “In a black satin box, a superb diamond necklace, and her heart throbbed with desire for it. Her hands shook as she picked it up. She fastened it around her neck, watched it gleam at her?throat and looked at herself ecstatically. ” ( Roberts 6) She had gotten all she?wanted. Once again, Mathilde’s selfish desires had been fulfilled.
After going to the ball and basically being the “life of the party”, she returned home to her drab apartment, only to remember the events of the evening where she was in the spotlight and people looked at her. It was at that moment that she had noticed that the necklace was missing. She and her husband had searched everywhere for it yet, the necklace was no where to be found. For the next ten years Loisel and Mathilde worked their fingers to the bone to repay Mathi lde’s friend for the necklace that Mathilde had carelessly lost. They had to ove to a different apartment, this worse than the last. They also had to borrow money from the various people to pay some of the finance charges they had acquired from owing loan sharks. “Another trait Mathilde owns is being dependent. I believe she is very dependent on her husband. She always expects him to please her or buy the items she wants. An example of this would be when she loses the necklace he is the one who spends his inheritance to pay back for her mistakes”. (Adamson) It was in this time, that Mathilde had began to change.
Physically, “she had become the strong, hard , rude, woman of poor households. ” ( Roberts 9) But also there was a change on the inside , too . Sometimes she still sat and thought about her moment of glory and then thought about what her life would have been like if she would have never lost the necklace. She realized that her selfishness and desire to be “on top” had caused her to experience the major down fall that she did. She also realized that she was at rock bottom now, her and her husband both, and she had put them there.
She had become the person she absolutely did not want to be. Her life was worse than it had been before, and only because she was being selfish and unthankful. Losiel in this time really didn’t change. He just did what had to be done in order to pay for his wife’s mistake. I don’t think he complained about it either. He saw that she was working hard to correct her mistake and indeed was learning from it. Once again, Losiel was demonstrating his passiveness. Maupassant uses Mathilde as a round character. She is the one who changes or evolves with the events of the story.
She learns that “one should be content with what one has” and ” it’s ok to dream, but not to let your dreams keep you from seeing reality. ” Losiel then, is a flat character. He remains the same or is constant. With all the commotion in the story, Losiel manages to keep the same character traits. His life is effected yet, he’s still the same person. Another example of a flat character is Mrs. Forriester. Even though her necklace is lost, it really doesn’t have an impact on her character. She too, remains constant. Mathilde dreams of unattainable wealth and comfort yet, fails to see that her dream life ends up harming her real life.
Maupassant does and excellent job of showing the transformation of Mathilde’s character from a person who is selfish and ungrateful to a person who realizes that her mistakes and pays for it the rest of her life. Even though the story is fiction, Maupassant has made it believable and lifelike. These traits are what made “The Necklace” so understanding. If it weren’t for Mathilde’s actions and traits the moral of the story would have never been learned. Someone reading this story could benefit greatly from it. all must deal with selfishness at some point in our lives. Why not learn from other peoples mistakes , fiction or not.