Comparison of “A Piece of String” and “The Necklace” in use of tone and characterization.


02/24/04


Essay #3 ENG 1100


In all his short stories, De Maupassant liked to portray the greediness, selfishness, ungratefulness and other negative aspects of the human nature. Two of his short stories that showed that are “A Piece of String” and “The Necklace.” In these stories the writer has a mocking attitude towards the main characters, showing how life gets back on them through irony.


Starting with “A Piece of String,” Hauchecome, a believer of economizing, picks up a piece of string. But, his enemy Malandain, watches him being suspicious about whatever he is picking up. Hauchecome did not want to get embarrassed with his enemy watching him pick up a piece of string. Ironically enough that led to Hauchecome getting accused of stealing a pocketbook, getting even more embarrassed at the end.


Eventually, his constant efforts to clear up his name led him to death. In this way De Maupassant shows how fate’s irony gets you, he mocks people’s silliness and shows how obsessing over something can lead you to your own destruction.


In “The Necklace” Mrs. Loisel had youth, beauty and a good, loving husband but was very ungrateful. Her definition of happiness was being rich and prestigious. Through this ungratefulness and greediness, she looses the good things she had because of the hard, long work necessary to repay the necklace. Her vanity led her to loose what happiness really consists of and at the end that was over a “bubble,” since the necklace was fake. If she was honest with Mrs. Forestier about loosing the necklace, the 10 years of repaying debts would not have happened.


De Maupassant once again looks down on this sort of attitude and scorns the vanity and silliness of her nature. He also shows how fate gets you at the end when you are greedy and ungrateful.