The Necklace
The Necklace

The Necklace - Study Guide

The Necklace is an ironic story about the distinction between appearance versus reality, written by Guy de Maupassant in 1884. We hope this study guide is particularly useful for teachers and students eager to appreciate the nuances of the story.

Read the story: The Necklace, Character Analysis & Summary, Genre & Themes, Literary Devices, Quotes, Discussion Questions, Paired Readings, Useful Links, and Notes/Teacher Comments

Character Analysis & Summary

The Necklace Study Guide: Napoleon's diamond necklace
Napoleon's diamond necklace

Genre & Themes



The Necklace Study Guide: Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant

Literary Devices & Vocabulary

Literary Devices

Interesting Vocabulary

The Necklace Study Guide: Paris Street, 1870
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, 1870


Explain what the following quotes mean and how they relate to the story:

The Necklace Study Guide: 1890s dress fashions
1890 dress fashions

Discussion Questions

1. Explain how Maupassant hooks the reader with his opening line: "The girl was one of those pretty and charming young creatures who sometimes are born, as if by a slip of fate, into a family of clerks."

2. Define a morality tale and how Maupassant's story qualifies as one. Relate your answer to the adage: "Beauty is only skin-deep."

3. Discuss the theme of appearance versus reality.

4. Discuss how "a slip of fate" and "an error of fate" foreshadows the story's plot.

5. Compare the alternate translations of this story, in The Diamond Necklace (50 words longer, alternate word choice), to The Necklace. Do you have a preference? If so, why?

6. Discuss the literary device of a twist ending. Explain what it is and why readers are drawn to these type of stories.

7. While Maupassant is best known for his realism stories with twist endings, but his works include a number of gothic horror stories, such as The Hand and A Ghost. Read one of these and compare his writing style in both genres.

8. Explain the significance of Mathilde's reflection upon losing the necklace: "How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!"

9. Why does Monsieur Loisel put up with his wife, giving their opposing views on life?

10. Put yourself in her shoes: would you have hidden the truth if you lost something valuable of your friend's? Do you sympathize or feel Mathilde deserves her situation for trying to pretend she's something she's not?

11. Compare the elements of irony in The Gift of the Magi to this story. Identify literary devices used by each author to engage his reader in the protagonists' covetous behavior towards the objects they value.

O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi
The Gift of the Magi

Paired Reading Suggestions

Compare The Necklace themes and literary devices to these stories:

Short Stories for Middle School
Short Stories for Middle School

Biography and Works by Guy de Maupassant

Twist Endings Explained

The Necklace Lesson Plan by Michael Kravchuk

Is It Actually Ironic? 3 TED-Ed lessons on irony

Themes in The Necklace

Storyboard That Differentiated Lesson Plan

20 Great American Short Stories

Short Stories for Middle School

Short Stories for High School

Teacher Resources
A Teacher's Work Is Never Done

Notes/Teacher Comments

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