The Necklace

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necklaceHi, Glowers!

Have you ever read the short story, The Necklace, by French writer, Guy de Maupassant? If not, you must! I read this story about 10 years ago and it has impacted the way I think about appreciating what I have and being present and grateful in the moment for what is.

If you’ve found yourself always living in the past and constantly thinking about what you should’ve done with your life, or living in the future and imagining how awesome you’re going to be if you could just do that one thing, one day – then you will relate to The Necklace.

The story is set in Paris. The main character, Mathilde Loisel, is beautiful and charming but has taken to a pessimistic outlook on life, blaming her lackluster social status on being born into a poor family and marrying a man of average means. She’s never happy with what she has. She sits around her home and wishes she had velvet drapes and royal linens and fine China to serve her guests, who she imagines in her head to be rich and famous. She yearns for status and nobility. She complains to her hard-working husband that what he provides for her isn’t enough.

One day her husband comes home excited that they’ve been invited to a gala among the noble and elite and he thinks this will make his wife happy. To his surprise, she is saddened by the notion of not having anything respectable to wear. He offers to use the money he had saved to buy a hunting rifle in exchange to buy her a beautiful dress. He buys her the dress, and yet again – she is not happy. She does not have any jewels to wear. So, he suggests wearing flowers. But of course that isn’t enough for her.

Per his suggestion, she asks her dear and wealthy friend, Madame Forestier, if she can borrow a necklace for the event. Her friend obliges. Mathilde is ecstatic! She has the complete wardrobe fitting for a woman of status. She and her husband attend the party and she dances all night and networks with the most amazing people. For just a short moment she had forgotten about her real life. She had morphed into the woman she was in her fantasies. She was graceful and respected and admired.

The night ended with her husband sleeping in another room while she danced and laughed. When it was time to go he cloaked her in a shabby wrap to keep her warm, but she was embarrased because it was an indicator to others of their poverty. For that reason, she ran outside to quickly jump in a taxi with him.

When they arrived home, she took off the wrap and the beautiful diamond necklace was missing from her neck! She panicked. Her husband went back out and traced all of their footsteps but didn’t find the necklace. For an entire week, they scoured the city looking for it – but to no avail. They knew they had to replace the necklace so they visited jewelers around the city looking for a close match. They found a necklace that was priced at 36,000 francs ($40,000 today). Mathilde returned the replacement necklace to her friend hoping she wouldn’t open the jewelry case and notice the change. Madame Forestier was annoyed that she kept it for longer than promised; however, she never opened the case in front of Mathilde.

For 10 years the Loisels worked multiple jobs to pay off the debt from the loans and interest of the necklace. They had to move out of their home into a smaller apartment. Mathilde had to do all of the heavy work around the house since they dismissed the servants. Because of the hardship and manual labor, Mathilde’s extraordinary beauty had faded and she appeared to look old and irrevocably damaged. She was no longer the beautiful and charming woman she had once been.

One day she was walking in the park and she saw her dear friend, Madame Forestier. She had not seen her in 10 years. Mathilde walked up to her to say hello. Her friend was startled by her appearance and didn’t recognize her. Mathilde had to tell her who she was. Her friend was appaulled. She didn’t understand why her beauty had drastically changed and why she was so wretched and old.

Mathilde decided to tell her the truth about the necklace. She decided to confess her dishonesty. She explained that because she had to pay for the replacement necklace her life took a turn for the worst. Mathilde recounts how terrible the last 10 years of her life had been paying back the enormous debt on the expensive diamond necklace.

 

{Spoiler Alert: don’t read below if you plan to read the story for yourself}

It was then that Madame Forestier grabbed her dear friend’s hand and said, “My poor, poor Mathilde. That necklace was a fake. It was only worth 500 francs!” ($555).

The necklace was costume jewelry. It meant nothing to her. In fact, she never opened the case when it was returned because it was worthless.

Ahhh! Can you believe that? The anguish. The hard, manual labor. The life Mathilde once had (which she thought was not good enough) was gone. The power of deception and wanting to appear wealthy became the demise of her life. There are several instances of irony of not appreciating the decent life that she had and the appearance of being wealthy when she was actually wearing a fake diamond necklace. And the fact that her best friend was regarded as a wealthy person, when in fact, she had managed to live a life of deceit with fake jewelry that appeared real.

I think we can all learn a lesson here. We can see how by not appreciating your life and by not being grateful you can manifest the very things you didn’t want in your life.

My request is that you take 5 minutes each day and write down 5 things you’re grateful for. Just make a gratitude journal or notebook and everyday jot down the 5 things you appreciate, including people, experiences, blessings, things and feelings. Acknowledge what you have in that very moment –  for that day –  that gave you some peace.

 

 

 

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