I thought you would be so excited to attend this ball.
Don't I look lovely with this giant necklace?
The story takes place in late 18th century France, somewhere near Paris. Mme. Loisel struggles with what she has versus what she believes she should have. She is very concerned about what others think of her. She is beautiful so she thinks she should be rich. She is not rich, but she is far from poor, she has a maid, and a loving husband, who has a steady job.
Mme. 's husband comes home with an invitation to a fancy ball, thinking his wife will be thrilled to go. She is not because she feels she does't have the right things to wear. In the end Mme concern over what others think of her on this special evening cost her what she values most, her beauty.
Her husband gives her the money the he has saved for a new hunting gun to spend on a frock and encourages her to borrow jewels from a rich friend to persuade her to attend the ball. Mathilde has a fabulous time dancing the night way. She catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and likes what she sees. She doesn't want to leave until most everyone else has left because she doesn't want them to judge her transportation. She is the belle of the ball, but tragedy strikes when she loses the necklace.
Oh my!! Mme Loisel, how I wish you had been honest with me! That is a great deal of money! My necklace was "paste"! It was fake!
After frantically looking everywhere, & eventually reconciling with the fact that the necklace is lost, Mme. Loisel and her husband purchase what they think is a replica costing $36,000 francs. The couple work day and night for ten years to pay off the many debts they obtained to pay for the necklace. In the process, she loses what she values the most, her beauty. Her hands grew rough and red, her hair frizzy, her clothes tattered, and she is now the household help for others.
One evening, after finishing up work, around dusk, Mme. Loisel is walking home on the Champs Elycee and spots her old friend, Mme. Forestier, who loaned her the necklace. She has aged so much, her friend doesn't recognize here. Mathilde angrily explains how her life has changed in order to repay the cost of the lost necklace. Mistakenly, she blames Mme. Forestier for all of her misfortune.
Mathilde learns the necklace she borrowed was fake. She and the reader are left to comprehend the fact she just spent the last ten years working herself and her husband to the bone, to pay for a fake necklace. If she hadn't been so concerned about what others thought of her this would never have happened. It is ironic that she lost what she loved most to impress others.