The Realism period (late 1800s-early 1900s) was a shift in expression which turned to focus on the everyday, middle class life. Rejecting the trend of the Romantic period, Realism modernized the everyday classing between wealth, power, social class, and more. The Industrial Revolution was directly involved in the social and economic changes, distinguishing the working class from the wealthy. This led to a gap between the rich and the poor-the middle class-that many artists wanted to explore. Writers wanted their works to show the realistic details of suffering lives and create relatable content. They wanted to go against the social structure and resented the gaps of power in society. There was an expansion of education in the Realism period, which led to many more people learning how to read and easily acquiring the works of writers. This helped writers appeal to more of the masses. Going against the status quo was a bonded front between art and literature alike.
There are many elements of Guy de Maupassant’s, “The Necklace” that represent the Realistic period and the themes of its time. One theme of this story, Reality vs. Illusion, directly reflects the Realism of society. Mme. Loisel lived a middle-class life, embarrassed to attend any events in which the wealthy outshined her. Maupassant’s character gives the illusion of wealthy appearances, while realistically living a plain life. The greed and materialism shed from Mathilde show how dire it was for her to have money and be a part of a better social class. This relates to the Realism period events of a structed social class based on power and wealth. The author gives realistic views of the story by not letting the audience understand why the characters want what they want, but instead just simply telling about them. “The Necklace” also shows the theme of suffering and sacrifice that many people in the realistic age had to make. M. Loisel was a simple clerk who gave up his saved money for his wife’s gown, his inheritance for her necklace, and 10 years of hard labor to repay his debt from them. He did so for his wife to have a spectacular night, which in turn led to suffering in their actual lives.
The Realistic period rejected Romanticism, which is reflected in “The Necklace” through Mme. Loisel. Her relationships with both her husband and her friend are not deeply explored, while it is instead shown that she puts herself before them. She speaks ill of her life to her husband when he makes a gesture for her happiness and she is not honest with her friend about losing the necklace. This also displays the irony present in the story. After so long of being un-honest, after the debts have been repaid and the Loisel’s lives have wretched, Mathilde finds out the necklace was a fake and it was all essentially for nothing. If she had been truthful in the first place, her life would not have continued farther away from her wants and desires. This also caused her beauty and essence to diminish to the point that her friend did not even recognize her. The end of the story is a great twist of events that is defined in one sentence alone. There is no explanation of what happens next or how the characters react. This ending displayed the realist trend of writing on how actions come with consequences, without detailing too much information on them.
Guy de Maupassant was a popular French author who is considered to be a father of the modern short story. His life ranged from 1850-1893 and he had the given name Henri Ren Albert Guy de Maupassant. During his younger life, he fought in the Franco-Prussian war, where he witnessed great suffering and tragedy. This later inspired many of his short stories. After his time serving, his friend and mentor, Flaubert, led him to be a great author. He showed Maupassant the naturalistic writing style, which was the foundation for his career. He was very popular in newspapers and was always in demand to publish new stories. In his young adult years, Maupassant contracted syphilis. Without modern medication, this led to him having a mental illness and it showed in his stories. They became abnormal and darker than his previous works. He attempted suicide in 1892 but remained living in an asylum for 18 months before eventually passing. In his lifetime he wrote around 300 short stories and 6 novels. His stories were later compared to Stephen King novels and he was an inspiration for many famous authors such has O. Henry, W. Somerset Maugham, and more. His contribution to the short story is what made them what they are today.