"For women belong to no caste, no race; their grace, their beauty, and their charm serving them in the place of birth and family."
This quote, which comes early in the story, speaks to Madame Loisel's dissatisfaction with her current life and social status. More generally, the quote speaks to the differences in gender roles in 19th century French society. Women were, to some extent, able to marry above their social class if they were beautiful or lucky. However, this also points to the vulnerability of women in society: as women above a certain social class did not work, they did not have much control over their social status besides through marriage.
"She thought of the exquisite food served on marvelous dishes, of the whispered gallantries, listened to with the smile of the sphinx while eating the rose-colored flesh of the trout or a chicken's wing."
Mme. Loisel spends much of her time imagining what life would be like if she were wealthy. These lavish scenes are even more replete with vivid imagery than the descriptions of reality. These dreams of a lavish dinner party contribute to the irony of Madame Loisel's response when her husband tells her they are invited to such an event: whereas one would expect the news to bring her joy, it instead causes her to weep.
"There is nothing more humiliating than to have a shabby air in the midst of rich women."
This quote demonstrates that the most important thing to Mme. Loisel is one's apparent social class, rather than beauty, intelligence, or even one's true social class. Her greatest fear, now that she has been invited to a social event as she had dreamed, is that she will not seem to fit in due to her attire.
"How would it have been if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? Who knows? How singular is life, and how full of changes! How small a thing will ruin or save one!"
In this quote, the narrator speaks rhetorically and directly to the reader, opining on the fickleness of life. This seems to be the story's moral until the twist ending, at which time these thoughts are nuanced by the irony of the necklace not being worth the ruin it caused.
"Her hair badly dressed, her skirts awry, her hands red, she spoke in a loud tone, and washed the floors in large pails of water. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she would seat herself before the window and think of that evening party of former times, of that ball where she was so beautiful and so flattered."
It is hard to tell Madame Loisel's emotion at this point of the story. Though her life has become much harder in some ways, she seems to have changed her character so that she is accepting of her position in life, perhaps even able to feel a fondness when thinking back to the evening party she once attended.
The Necklace Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Necklace is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped...