She was one of those pretty, charming young women who are born, as if by error of Fate, into a petty official's family. She had no dowry, no hopes, not the slightest chance of being appreciated, understood, loved, and married by a rich and distinguished man; so she slipped into marriage with a minor civil servant at the Ministry of Education.
But what about the dress you wear to the theater? I think it's lovely...
And so, with the money her husband had set aside for a new hunting rifle, Mathilde went and bought a beautiful dress for the reception for four hundred francs. Not thinking that this was enough, she went to her friend, Madame Forestier for assistance.
I haven't a thing to wear. How could I go?
Her friend lent her a beautiful necklace to attend the reception. Her outfit was complete. She now had a beautiful dress for the reception and a necklace borrowed from her friend. She was finally ready.
Yes, of course.
Could you lend me this one--just this and nothing else?
At the ball, Madame Loisel was a great success. She was the prettiest woman there--resplendent, graceful, beaming, and deliriously happy. All the men looked at her, asked who she was, tried to get themselves introduced to her. All the minister's aides wanted to waltz with her. The minister himself wanted to dance with her. Only when she had gotten home did she notice the necklace was gone. They had looked everywhere but the necklace was nowhere to be found. In order to replace the necklace, they had to borrow money. Her husband asked for a thousand francs from one man, five hundred from another, a hundred here, fifty there. He signed promissory notes, borrowed at exorbitant rates, dealt usurers and the entire race of moneylenders.
Forced to work long, grueling hours she earned meager pay. She dressed like a working-class woman, she went to stores all the while contesting each sou of her pitiful funds. After ten years, her debt was finally payed off. She looked old now. Sometimes when her husband was at the office, she would muse over the party long ago when she'd been the belle of the ball.
And so, finally talking to her dear friend for the first time in ten years, she figured out Madame Forestier's necklace was a fake only worth five hundred francs.
Mine was fake. It's only worth about five hundred francs .
You didn't even notice? They were exactly alike.