The Grip of Obsession
Money is a very important part of everyone’s life as no one can live without it. Sometimes, though, one may encounter a person who is obsessed with wealth. The story “The Necklace” written by Guy de Maupassant portrays one such character, named Mathilde, whose mindset limits her satisfaction with life. She receives an invitation to a party that she does not wish to attend, for she has no jewels and deems herself “plain.” She eventually purchases an expensive dress to wear and borrows a gorgeous necklace from a richer friend. She loses the necklace and purchases a replacement with borrowed money. She works the next ten years of her life to pay off that debt only to find out that the necklace she lost was a fake. “The Necklace” shows that obsession with wealth can cause dissatisfaction with reality, paranoid self-consciousness, and extreme selfishness.
Obsession with wealth can cause dissatisfaction with reality. Mathilde, the main character in “The Necklace,” is a very clear example of this dissatisfaction. Mathilde has a very strong obsession with jewels, but she does not have the money to afford them. She is not happy with anything because she is born into a “poor family” and cannot have what she desires most. She says that “she [feels] that she [is] made for” jewels and clothes, and she “[longs] so eagerly to be chased, [to] be desired, [and] to be wildly attractive and sought after” (Maupassant 1). Mathilde’s dissatisfaction with her life clearly shows that obsession with wealth can prevent one from feeling happy with oneself and one’s lifestyle. If Mathilde was more down to earth, she would have realized that she should be grateful for what she already has. She has a home, a husband, food, and friends, but she does not value them, for she only wishes to be wealthy.
Obsession with wealth and luxury can also create a sense of paranoid self-consciousness, leading one to become critical of not only oneself but also of others. In “The Necklace,” Mathilde is portrayed as a self-conscious character who is not only critical of herself but also of others. She resents her husband’s jacket as she believes it makes her look poor. Because she does not want to be seen with the old and unfashionable jacket, she rushes out of the party, which causes her to lose the necklace. If she was not so self-conscious, she would not have rushed away. Besides being critical of others, Mathilde is also critical of herself. She believes that she looks much too “plain” (Maupassant 1) without jewels to enhance her beauty. If she was not so self-critical, she would not have borrowed the necklace diamond from her friend. She would have listened to her husband and worn flowers, instead.
Being obsessed with wealth can also cause extreme selfishness. Being selfish means being only concerned for oneself. For example, if one decided their needs and wants are more important than everyone else’s needs and wants, they would be considered selfish. Mathilde decides her needs and wants are more important than her husband’s, showing she is too selfish to care about what her husband thinks. She says the dress is about “four hundred francs,” which is “the exact amount to buy a gun” (Maupassant 3). Her husband has been saving up money for years on end just so he could go out with his friends, but Mathilde uses that money just for a dress that she will wear only once. If Mathilde was not so selfish, she would not have used up all her husband’s savings for just a dress that she may use only once to a party.
Guy de Maupassant wishes to convey the message that it is people’s mindset that determines their satisfaction with their lives and that obsession with wealth and luxury can blind them to reality, cause self-consciousness, and lead to selfishness. If Mathilde was not so absorbed in her obsessions, she would not have had to put her and her husband through such hardships to pay off the debt. People must realize that being so obsessed with wealth and class can cause them and people around them pain and misfortune, so one must be careful not to fall into the grip of obsession as Mathilde does.