‘The Necklace’ and ‘Desiree’s Baby’, are both short stories. In the 19th century short stories were a popular form of art, because they were a convenient way for writers to put across their views. They were used as a medium to entertain, and comment on human nature. Which is similar to ‘Desiree’s Baby’, a woman with no origin, but her beauty is left to fit into a southern American society, where a lot is expected from women.
Women in the 19th century did not have the same social opportunities as many women today. Wealthy women, with money for a dowry, could expect to marry well; also it was easier for them to live in Deep South Alabama, and in France. This was the case in ‘The Necklace’. Mme Loisel, who is the heroine, without dowry settles for a middle-class man.
But for poor women, they found life difficult in places, like France and could expect to marry badly. In 19th century Alabama, many rich people were salve owners which meant racial prejudice, against black people were high, this is one of the themes explored in ‘Desiree’s Baby’.
Guy de Maupassant, in his story deals with women’s position in society, and the great diversity between the social classes. Similar to Maupassant, Kate Chopin deals with roles of women in society, and prejudice shown by whites to other races.
Maupassant deals with the expectations of women in society; he writes “women have neither rank nor class”. He’s saying that women have to depend on their beauty, and dowry, this is what the word “rank” signifies. Metaphorically the word “class” could mean dignity, what he’s saying is that society has taken women’s dignity away from them, because they have to depend on the men to be able to get a good social class. This is what leads to Mme Loisel wanting a better life for herself, and believing the best class to be, is to be an aristocrat. This leads to her struggling to fit into her society.
Guy de Maupassant based the story on real events that were happening “post revolutionary France.” The revolution (1789) has promised a new beginning in French society, but by Maupassant’s time a new aristocracy had been created, and the poor were just as badly off. Perhaps He used his main character to warn French people about social inequality that was going on in France and to give a moral story about contentment.
In 19th century Alabama, wives, and mothers had one role; and that was to keep her family together. However this was impossible when Armand refuses to accept Desiree, “Armand has told me that I am not white”. She has been rejected by her husband. Due to ill-fated circumstances; she has been driven out of her home. As a woman at the time society will be against her for leaving her husband’s home. This will make the readers feel sorry for Desiree, because of the pressure society puts on women to be good wives.
Chopin and Maupassant’s characters are similar in many ways, one of which are; Mme Loisel, and Desiree both die at the end of the stories. Desiree dies at the end due to husband’s misunderstanding and prejudice way of thinking. she “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” He sent both his wife and baby to death. The line “she disappeared amongst the reeds,” shows a very horror death. She “disappears “, is almost like she was never alive, Chopin used that word because it gives a greater effect of sympathy, towards Desiree and the baby. Furthermore, upper-class expectation contributed to their deaths. “I shall die, I must die. I cannot be so unhappy and live.” She assumed she was black, and black people in that time had no means of living amongst the white people. Just like women, black people at that time were inferior; which is what Kate Chopin deals with, prejudice against race and women. Chopin emphasizes the word “die”; this is to tell us in advance that Desiree will die. Also “I shall” and “I must” are commanding words telling Desiree that she has to die, almost like a list of things to do.
Metaphorically, Mme Loisel dies at the end, because she is no longer a middle class but a “common woman” which is a much worse situation than she believed she was in at the start of the story. “Common woman” is used to show the lowest possibly class in France,
In the 19th century. In addition at this point Mme Loisel relives her own words, “there is nothing so humiliating as to look poor when you’re with women who are rich”.
Although Mme Loisel is comparable to Desiree, but Mme Loisel’s life also contrasts with Desiree’s life. This because Mme Loisel is unhappy and middle class and Desiree seemed happy, married an aristocrat making her rich. The similarity is that they both want to fit into their social order. Whereas Desiree kills herself because she cannot face society, however Mme Loisel is prepared to do whatever it takes to recover her dignity. So, it could be argued that Mme Loisel is the stronger of the two.
Chopin shows that, Desiree’s love for Armand is more anxious because of the fact that she has no origin. Desiree by the end of the story, shows desperation to keep her husband “Look at my hand whiter than yours,” signs that she is desperate for his love. She wants to prove herself to him in return for his love, but his reputation is far more important to him “Because of the shame she has brought upon his home and his name,” her feelings are not vital to him.
Chopin shows that women have to prove themselves to their husbands before they can be loved and that they are in desperate need of happiness. “I’m so happy, it frightens me.” The use of paradox shows that when the women are happy, there is an aspect of denial. It’s almost as if good things shouldn’t happen to them.
Armand is not too bothered that she was nameless because according to him, he could give her “one of the proudest in Louisiana.” He will now automatically own her because his name is now hers. Thus having power over her. Kate Chopin shows Armand to be a proud person, therefore was able to control Desiree “yes go.” This strong imperative is a powerful rejection, that he no longer wants her.
Chopin does not portray Armand has a good person, “Armand’s handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.” here the readers find out he did love Desiree, before he rejected her.
The relationship between Mon Loisel, and Mme loisel, is not balanced. This is because, at the beginning of the story Mme Loisel, seemed to have more control over Mon Loisel. “What’s up? He stammered”, stammering is a sign of fear, and this could be the fear of expressing himself. The line “the words died in his throat”, this is an indication of the fear of expression, and the power, Mme Loisel at this point has over him. However Mon loisel gains some form of control, in the middle of the story. “She wrote to his dictation”. This shows Mon Loisel to be in the dominant position at this point, and remains dominant to the end of the story. Perhaps this could be because he knew he was doing Mme Loisel a favor, by not abandoning her so in return she lets him remain dominant.
Both authors have given us an insight into how the story would end. In ‘Desiree’s Baby’, Armand’s pride has already shown us that Desiree would die because of the way he fell in love with her. “The Aubigny’s fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot.” This simile shows a lot in his character; he was selfish and his pride ruined other people.
In ‘The Necklace’, Mme Loisel has an aristocratic friend whom is was jealous of. She envies her friend so much that she wants her life so she restrains herself from making any more contacts with her. Ironically, her friend lends her the jewellery she lost. This is also the friend she does not want to see, because she made her unhappy. Guy de Maupassant did this because this was going to be the cause of her misery later on; he has already told us how the story would end “she would weep tears of sorrow, regret, despair, and anguish.”
In conclusion, Guy de Maupassant wants us to sympathize with his character because she had beauty. She was supposed to have everything because she was pretty and her father left her without dowry. This limited her chances of finding love and she was lucky to get Mon loisel. Guy de Maupassant’s moral story in ‘The Necklace’ is that Mme Loisel should have been happy with what she had, because she ended up in a worse situation than she started with, being “poor.” Some of this story is concentrating on society because “post revolutionary France” made class an important part of people’s life, did this put pressure on Mme Loisel on wanting a better life? Maupassant is asking the readers
this question. He was also asking the people of France in the 19th century that, should great importance be put on class?
In my opinion, I feel sorry for Mme Loisel, because by wanting a better life for herself; she wanted to be independent, and less dependent on Mon Loisel. She wanted to work, and not stay at home to be a housewife. In society today, majority of the women, are working, and possibly bread winners. Since it’s not bad today, it shouldn’t have been a problem then, but it was due to social prejudice.
The evidence provided in ‘Desiree’s baby’, shows that a lot of our compassion should be fixed on Desiree because Mme loisel bought her ill-fated event upon her. Desiree is not to be blamed because of her husband’s callousness Armand’s prejudice against race made him lose everything. Ironically he was the black one and not Desiree “our dear Armand will never know that his mother who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery”. Moreover, her biological parents who abandoned her caused her a lot of misery “she had no origin. Although she has her beauty, except she had no background, so she needed love, but the love she wanted was desperate. She married a bad person, to her; he is opposite. Desiree goes through a lot, which is why Chopin wants us to show compassion for her; also, she hopes the world will learn what their faults can do to people. Overall, both authors are sending a message to the world that equality in our society is very important, whatever race it is, or any gender; we should be less discriminative, racist, and prejudice, but more tolerance in acceptance.
I feel sorry for Desiree, because to be wrongly accused is wrong, especially if it’s against race. Desiree didn’t deserve to die, although in the 19th century race was a bigger issue then, than it was now. Today more people are tolerant towards each others culture, and race. Society today has improved, but there is always need for equality if not within society, but within the world.