The difference between what is expected to happen and what actually happens or The difference between appearance and reality. The story’s outcome must be ironic for this literary device to be used effectively. Situational Irony may also be referred to as “Verbal Irony” or words that mean one thing but mean another or “Dramatic Irony” where readers are aware of facts not known to characters in the story (Irony, n.d.). The five examples of situational irony from The Necklace are listed below:
1. The first example of situational irony occurs when Madame Forestier praises Mathilde Loisel for her simple life after she has just borrowed money from her husband to buy an expensive evening dress for the party (Maupassant, n.d.).
2. The second example of situational irony takes place when Madame Loisel buys an expensive necklace because she thinks it will bring her luck and solve all of her problems (Maupassant, n.d.).
3. The third example of situational irony occurs when Madame Loisel loses the original necklace and spends ten years working pay off the debt for the replacement. The author uses irony to make the audience laugh at Madame Forestier’s expense. The last example of situational irony occurs when Madame Loisel returns the original necklace to Madame Forestier who thought that she had lost it (Maupassant, n.d.). The story’s outcome must be ironic for this literary device to be used effectively.
What happened in The Necklace is a perfect example of situational irony. The irony may not be apparent at first because the situation isn’t exactly what one would call pleasant, but when you think about it, Madame Forestier lived a life of luxury off the sacrifices and heartaches that Mathilde Loisel had to endure. Madame Forestier was a wealthy acquaintance of Mathilde Loisel who could afford to spend her days indulging in nice clothes and expensive jewelry.
She owned so much jewelry that she let Mathilde borrow an especially beautiful diamond necklace for a ball that she was going to attend. The night of the ball, Mathilde was talking to Madame Forestier’s maid when she noticed how much nice jewelry her employer had. The maid told Mathilde that it wasn’t unusual for Madame Forestier to loan out some of her more expensive pieces of jewelry. Mathilde left the ball in a state of despair because she didn’t have anything nice enough to wear and especially because she couldn’t return the diamond necklace Madame Forestier lent her.
The next day, Mathilde grabbed what little money she could save up over ten years and went shopping with Madame Forestier’s diamond necklace in hand so that she could pretend it was hers. The clerk at the shop kept bringing up how great Madame Forestier was, and Mathilde tried to play it off as if she were a close family friend. The clerk couldn’t see the necklace because Mathilde didn’t take off the black ribbon that Madame Forestier had loaned her with the piece of jewelry.
Mathilde ended up buying an imitation version of what she was trying to pass off as hers for hundreds more than she would have originally spent on something nice for herself. The necklace broke when her husband lost his job, and they had to sell it in order to make ends meet. After ten years, Madame Forestier finally realized that her diamond necklace was missing. She asked around at parties to see if anyone returned her diamond necklace but no one knew anything about it until Mathilde, feeling guilty and ashamed that she could no longer afford to keep up the lie, confessed what really happened.
The two women compared stories and realized that Madame Forestier’s maid was responsible for telling Mathilde how much Madame Forestier liked to lend out her pieces of jewelry. The story implies that it took ten years for Madame Forestier’s necklace to break and be sold because it wasn’t as high-quality as the one she originally owned. The necklace, like everything else in The Necklace, is full of irony due to the fact that Mathilde Loisel could not afford to buy nice things for herself but then ended up borrowing an expensive piece of jewelry from a wealthy acquaintance who didn’t even care about what happened to it.
The fact that Madame Loisel felt so guilty about telling the truth after ten years further shows how much she disliked living a life of poverty, but her sacrifices have been for nothing because she has been wearing an imitation version of an expensive necklace all that time. The irony in The Necklace is interesting because Madame Forestier was able to afford her lifestyle off of Mathilde Loisel’s sacrifices and hard work. It isn’t until The Necklace breaks and Mathilde is forced to confess why hers didn’t match up exactly with Madame Forestier’s that this realization finally hits home.
The Necklace as a whole as well as both characters involved are full of situational irony due to each persons opposite lifestyles as well as one woman having little to no knowledge of the other’s lack of money. The fact that Madame Loisel could not afford to buy nice things for herself but then ended up borrowing an expensive piece of jewelry from a wealthy acquaintance who didn’t even care about what happened to it, is just one example of situational irony in The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.
The entire story is filled with this ironic twist including Mathilde Loisel could not afford to keep up the lie and told the truth after ten years had passed. The theme by itself shows how much Madame feels guilty living a life of poverty but her sacrifices have all been for nothing because she has been wearing an imitation version of an expensive necklace throughout The Necklace. The irony in The Necklace is interesting because Madame Forestier was able to afford her lifestyle off of Mathilde Loisel’s sacrifices and hard work.
It isn’t until The Necklace breaks and Mathilde is forced to confess why hers didn’t match up exactly with Madame Forestier’s that this realization finally hits home. The irony surrounding The Necklace makes the story not only more memorable but it lets the reader know how much Madame felt guilty living a life of poverty throughout The Necklace. The theme, symbolism, mood, setting, characters, conflicts, climaxes & resolutions provide further information about situational irony in The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.