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Comparison of Two Female Characters in The Necklace Novel

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Comparison of the Characters Scheherazade and Madame Loisel

In the short story ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant, which was written in the late 19th century in France, the main character is a pessimistic, hateful woman named Madame Loisel who loses a donated diamond necklace and ends up paying for her actions 10 years on.

The other short story ‘King Schahriar and his brother’ features another female main character named Scheherzade, where she, single handedly, tries to prevent the murders of women caused by the Sultan. This story was written in the 18th century, whilst the origin and author of this story is unknown.

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In ‘King Schahriar’ Scheherzade is at first seen as a Innocent girl , “Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?” The use of formal, gentle tone of voice perhaps shows that she cares for her father, yet has admiration and respect for her father because he has given her the intelligence to help others, “the best masters in philosophy, medicine, history and the fine arts.”

On the other hand, Madame Loisel is quite the opposite, “ Not one stone, that I can put on. I’ll look like a church mouse. I’d almost as soon as not to go to the reception.” This sentence not only highlights the neediness of Loisel, but also how she is very cunning, and she uses her ungratefulness to persuade her weak husband into getting what she desires; an upgrade in class, “She dreamed of elegant dinners, gleaming silverware, and tapestries which peopled the walls with mythical characters and strange birds in enchanted forests.” The use of the large amount of adjectives followed by nouns in this description tells us that Loisel’s dreams are extremely vivid and well thought out, therefore suggesting that she spends a majority of her life in jealousy for the rich.

Another character trait that is clearly visible is that Scheherzade is very optimistic, “ if I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.” Although she may seem optimistic on the surface, she is truly trying to persuade her father, because she believes that he wants patriotism because he is the grand-vizier. In addition, this sentence perhaps suggest that stories have become an important part of Scheherzade, as this sentence may be seen as a cliché; a common feature of fiction. On the other hand Madame Loisel is much more pessimistic, “A modest, everyday coat, a commonplace coat , violently at odds with the elegance of her dress.” The use of Maupassant’s dialogue is to show how quickly Loisel is to notice the downsides of a situation, and how these negatives can ‘drag her down’ are shown by the multiple adjectives that she uses, which are also in the line, “the peeling walls, the battered chairs and the ugly curtains.” This use of multiple adjectives may suggest that Madame Loisel is too experienced, because her thought is advanced and extremely detailed.

Another character trait of Scheherzade is that she is persistent, “Once again, my father, will you grant me what I ask?” This sentence highlights that she is not going to be changed by what her father says, but she won’t stop until she has gotten her way and achieves this by the repetition of non threatening phrases and structures in other sentences, for example, “Father, I have a favour to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?” In addition, the use of ‘will you’ is implying that her father has no choice, and Scheherzade knows that he is able to help her and because he has developed an affection for her, and she knows he is going to respond eventually in the way that she wants. In comparison, Madame Loisel is less experienced in person and in person she is irresolute, “ I… I… Madame Forestier’s necklace… I haven’t got it!” This sentence highlights that Madame Loisel first thought is panic, and the multiple sentences in one may imply that her thought process is muddled.

An underlying, yet major character trait of the grand-vizier’s elder is that she is manipulative, which is exposed throughout the story, for instance, “when his highness receives me, I shall beg him, as a last favour, to let you sleep in our chamber…” Since Scheherzade is both beautiful and intelligent, she is able to use these two ‘powers’ together to make even the most powerful of men, the sultan, fall for her. Also, she is able to manipulate a person on more than one occasion; repetition of her begging is due to her powers that she possesses that are able to undermine any form of strength. Just like Scheherzade, Madame Loisel has traits of manipulation, “I can’t say precisely, but I dare say

I could get by on 400 francs.” The use of author’s diction in the line is to highlight that Madame Loisel is also careful with her word choice just like Scheherzade, but unlike Scheherzade, her word choice implies suffering, for example ‘I could get by’, and uncertainty which highlights that she is always trying to get more.

Scheherzade is also very affectionate for people such as her sister,” My dear sister, if you are not asleep, tell me I pray you, before the sun rises, one of your charming stories.” This sentence highlights that Scheherzade has been able to gain admiration by her sister, which is shown by the use of her words, “my dear sister” and “I pray you”, which are altered from what Scheherzade tells Dinarzade, “My sister” and “I beg you”. This alteration may also suggest that the younger sister is willing to do anything for her older sister, and if she is given instructions by her sister she will complete the task. This is displayed by the use of “I pray you”, which means ‘please’ and is less demanding than “I beg you”, which is example of an imperative. On the other end of the spectrum, Madame Loisel shows no respect towards her husband, “she tossed the invitation peevishly onto the table and muttered: “what earthly use is that to me.” The author’s use of diction is to show that any effort and thought that her husband makes is merely appreciated, and without the use of the husband’s logic, she wouldn’t have any sense in any situation, “but if you’d lost it in the street, we’d have heard it fall. So it must be in the cab.” Although Loisel is extremely caring for his wife, which is shown by the use of his repetitive caring diction such as ‘look’ and questions: “What’s up? He stammered. What’s the matter?” this may also be implying that the husband is afraid of his wife when she expresses her pessimistic feelings, and he wants to avoids this by caring for her.

The final point to make about Scheherzade is that she is always prudent, “Scheherzade did not answer her sister, but turned to the Sultan. “Will your highness permit me to do as my sister asks?” The author’s use of dialogue also suggests that Scheherzade always tries to gain respect from others by using a formal and intelligent voice , because she has realised that she will be able to get favours from those who she is respectful and charitable to in the future, “if I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.” In reality she may be going through with this because she will be in debt to the nation from what many favours could be obtained in order to make her life much easier. On the other hand, Madame Loisel has no idea how her actions now could affect the future, “for she was always so unhappy afterwards. Sometimes, for days on end, she would weep tears of sorrow, regret, despair and anguish.” This sentence shows how not one word can describe her suffering because it effects her so greatly that it has taken over her ideal visions of what is reality. Because of this, her demand is so great, “popular, envied, attractive and in demand. Moreover, her additional suffering of 10 years in poverty may have ended if she lived off the concept that people can give favours, yet Madame Loisel has no awareness of other people’s feelings, “And it was all on your account.” In my opinion, the necklace would’ve never been lost if it had never been borrowed, and her egotism was the entire reason that got her into the situation of getting the necklace which turned out to be a fake, “oh, my poor Mathilde! But it was only an imitation necklace. It couldn’t have been worth much more than five hundred francs!” In conclusion Madame Loisel has been living both mentally and physically in a fantasy, always in belief that the rich live a ‘perfect life’, yet in reality they do not, and to finally realise this, a 10 year grind of poverty was to take place, which her husband took part in. Because of this, I’d say that this was worth it for Madame Loisel, because she was able to she herself without any barriers in the way. For Scheherzade, I would say that her overall goal is to make her future much easier, and her main strategy is to befriend others so that she will easily get her way, a lesson that could’ve been taught to Madame Loisel to prevent her suffering from ever occurring.


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