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IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 02

IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 02

Edexcel English IGCSE: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Q2. Compare the character of Madame Loisel to the other characters in ‘The Necklace’. How does the writer bring out the contrasts between them?

In your answer, consider:

  • Madame Loisel’s husband;
  • Madame Forestier;
  • use of language techniques.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘The Necklace’, the writer brings out the negative characteristics of Madame Loisel through contrasts with her husband and her friend, Madame Forestier. Madame Loisel is presented as negative, cruel, and placing too high a value on material possessions.

Although she lives a relatively comfortable life at the beginning of the story, Madame Loisel is constantly dissatisfied with her lot, which contrasts with the attitude of her husband. The first three paragraphs of the story give a detailed description of her dissatisfaction with her life, causing her to be “unhappy all the time”. Exaggerated vocabulary is used to show how unreasonable her discontent is: her life is “torture” and she considers herself a “spectacle”. In direct contrast to Madame Loisel’s unreasonable misery, her husband speaks “delightedly” about his dinner! His short, joyful exclamations are immediately followed by a very long sentence describing what Madame Loisel would rather have. This highlights the contrasts in their character.

Contrasting her husband’s kindness and supportiveness, Madame Loisel can be cruel and manipulative, showing her self-centredness in contrast to her husband’s selflessness. An example of this is when he brings her the invitation to the party. He “brandished the envelope, showing that he believes that this will be an impressive and pleasant surprise. However, the adverbs describing Madame Loisel’s reaction – “peevishly”, “irritably” and “shortly” – show that she is ungrateful for his efforts. To highlight her cruelty towards her well-meaning husband, the writer describes his emotional reaction to her meanness, eliciting sympathy in the reader: he is “disconcerted and dismayed” and “devastated”. Madame Loisel takes advantage of his selfless desire to please her, forcing him to give her money for clothes and jewellery. This contrast shows her to be a manipulative character.

Unlike her friend Madame Forestier, Madame Loisel places a great deal of value on material possessions. When Madame Loisel asks to borrow some jewellery, Madame Forestier responds flippantly, showing that she has a casual attitude towards her riches: the dialogue “Choose whatever you like” and “Just look” suggests that Madame Forestier does not care about her possessions as much as Madame Loisel does. This contrast between Madame Loisel and her friend is the cause of Madame Loisel’s tragic downfall. Madame Forestier places such little value on her possessions that she is happy to have cheap, imitation jewellery; it is Madame Loisel’s assumption that this would not be the case that causes her and her husband to have to sacrifice everything they have, to unnecessarily buy an expensive replacement.

In this story, the reader is encouraged to dislike and lose respect for Madame Loisel. This is heightened by the contrasts with the kind and reasonable people around her.

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IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 03

IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 03

Edexcel English IGCSE: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Q3. What do you think the moral of ‘The Necklace’ is? How does the writer portray this message?

In your answer, write about:

  • the character of Madame Loisel;
  • the importance of material possessions;
  • the use of language.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The moral of ‘The Necklace’ is that we should not judge our lives by our material possessions. This moral is portrayed through the flawed character of Madame Loisel, who is obsessed with material wealth and consequently very unhappy.

Madame Loisel’s constant dissatisfaction with her life shows the reader that we should be grateful for what we have. In the first part of the story, the writer draws a contrast between Madame Loisel’s life as it is, and how she wants it to be. The description of her apartment uses negative adjectives – “run-down”, “peeling”, “battered” and “ugly” – which contrasts with the grandeur that she wishes she had: “tall, bronze”, “huge”, “great” and “pretty”. Exaggerated language shows how unreasonable her dissatisfaction is: she is “unhappy all the time” and feels that her life is “torture”, implying physical pain. However, her and her husband’s situation worsens later in the story, when they have to live in an “attic room” and are “very poor”. This shows that we should be grateful for what we have, because we could always be worse off.

It is Madame Loisel’s obsession with material possessions which makes her so unhappy. Her happiness is dependent on material wealth, which makes her miserable when she feels that she is not as rich as others. The writer highlights this through the contrasts with other characters in the story. Whilst Madame Loisel is “intoxicated with pleasure” at the luxurious party, her husband spends it “dozing in a small, empty side-room”, showing that he does not need luxury to be happy. Similarly, Madame Loisel’s richer friend, Madame Forestier, does not place much value on material possessions. When Madame Loisel asks to borrow some jewellery, she flippantly replies, “Choose whatever you want”. The fact that these two characters seem to be happier and more content than Madame Loisel shows that it is important not to become obsessed with physical things, as they are not the key to happiness.

The end of the story reveals to the reader that Madame Loisel’s pride and obsession with material goods has caused her and her husband misery for many years. Because she is so obsessed with material goods and considers Madame Forestier to be so much richer than herself, Madame Loisel never considers that the lost necklace might be cheap, imitation jewellery. We also learn that if Madame Loisel had valued her friendship more highly than her own pride, she would never have made this mistake.

Through this story, the writer provides the reader with a strong moral: that material possessions are not the most important thing in life. In fact, an obsession with such things can result in a damaging penchant for comparing oneself with others, and dissatisfaction with one’s lot.

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IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 04

IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 04

Edexcel English IGCSE: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Q4. How does the writer engage the reader’s interest in ‘The Necklace’?

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In ‘The Necklace’, the writer engages the reader’s interest by inducing frustration with Madame Loisel, building tension, and providing a powerful moral to the story.

Madame Loisel is frustrating, because she is so dissatisfied with what she has. The hyperbolic language describing her discontent at the start of the story makes the reader’s wonder why she is so affected by her surroundings: she is “unhappy all the time” and experiences “torture”. The unreasonable nature of her pain is highlighted by contrasts with her kind husband, who talks excitedly about his stew in short exclamations – “Ah! Stew! Splendid!” – which contrasts with the extended descriptions of what Madame Loisel would rather be having. Madame Loisel’s discontentment engages the reader by inducing frustration and anger.

Tension is built throughout the story, particularly after the necklace has been lost, causing the reader to wonder how the situation will be resolved.  In the description of the search for the necklace, a number of short sentences are used to effectively portray to the reader the severity of their situation. For example, the statement, “It cost forty thousand francs,” reflects the brutal nature of this fact, encouraging the reader to reflect on how they could possibly raise this sum. The reader is particularly upset by the fact that the responsibility falls mainly on the husband; emotive language is used to emphasise his suffering, such as “sick with worry”, “grim poverty” and “mental torture ahead”. This preparation for a terrible life evokes the reader’s sympathy, and again builds tension concerning how they will cope.

The story has a powerful moral, which encourages the reader to engage with the lessons that can be learned from the story. A great irony is revealed at the end of the story: that the original necklace was cheap, imitation jewellery, and therefore their long struggle through poverty was completely unnecessary. The writer ends the story with Madame Forestier’s shocking revelation about the truth behind the necklace. By finishing with this bombshell, the writer allows the reader time to stop and reflect on the implications of this news. It shocks the reader and causes them to reflect on the lesson that we should not place too high a value on material possessions. Madame Loisel considered material possessions to be the key to happiness, and as a result, she literally valued the necklace far too highly. By including a moral in the story, the writer engages the reader by causing them to reflect on their own life and attitudes.

This story evokes a number of emotions in the reader, including frustration, sympathy and shock. The story also has an important message which encourages the reader to reflect on the broader issues of happiness and materialism.

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IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 05

IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 05

Edexcel English IGCSE: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Q5. How does the writer portray Madame Loisel’s thoughts and feelings in ‘The Necklace’?

In your answer, think about:

  • Madame Loisel’s attitude to her life before the party;
  • her experience of the party;
  • any changes in her character after losing the necklace;
  • the writer’s use of language techniques.

You should refer closely to the text to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Because of her obsession with material possessions, Madame Loisel is always dissatisfied with her life. The only time when she is happy is at the party.

Before the party, Madame Loisel is frustratingly dissatisfied with her situation. She considers it “torture” to live in an average household; this hyperbolic language makes her sound ridiculous. There are extended descriptions of her daydreams, including adjectives creating a sense of luxury, such as “tall”, “huge” and “great”.  These adjectives contrast with those used to describe her apartment, like “peeling”, “battered” and “ugly”, showing her hatred for her surroundings. She is also rude to her husband when he brings her the invitation to the party:  instead of being excited, she acts “peevishly” and “irritably”. This shows that she is irritable and ungrateful.

The party is the only time when Madame Loisel feels truly happy, but she is perhaps happy for the wrong reasons. At the party, she finally achieves her dream of being in luxurious surroundings, admired by others for her appearance. The sentence describing her joy is long, reflecting the opulence and excess of the party. Language implying victory is used, such as “victorious”, “success” and “triumph”. This reveals Madame Loisel’s competitive approach to life, reflecting the way that she constantly compares herself to others. The language used to describe her feelings at the party also indicate a lack of control over her emotions: she is “intoxicated”, and is “swept along”, with the metaphor of “floating on a cloud”. Her obsession with being physically admired completely takes over.

Superficially, Madame Loisel’s character changes when they pay back their debts for the necklace, but she retains her obsession with materialism. The description of her changed behaviour creates an exaggerated sense of drama: the short, clipped sentences reflect the austerity of their situation, and repeated triple structures, such as “sheets, shirts and floorcloths”, emphasises how Madame Loisel’s sees her new life as a sacrifice. However, she retains her obsession with appearances. For example, she admires Madame Forestier for being “still young, still beautiful, and still attractive”. The repetition and triple structure creates a tone of jealousy and regret. The way that she phrases her story to Madame Forestier is unnecessarily cruel. She says it was “all on [her] account”, placing responsibility on her friend for her life of poverty; in fact, it was entirely Madame Loisel’s fault for losing the necklace and then lying about it. Her experience of poverty has evidently not improved her character.

Madame Loisel is not a likeable character. She is unnecessarily mean to those close to her, and she does not learn any lessons from her experience, retaining her obsession with appearance.

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IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 01

IGCSE The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant Model Essays Question 01

Edexcel English IGCSE: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Q1. In ‘The Necklace’, what does the writer teach the reader about material possessions?

In your answer, you should write about:

  • Madame Loisel’s opinions;
  • the deceptiveness of appearances;
  • the value of material items;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

In this story, the writer shows that material possessions are not the key to happiness, and that in fact, placing too high a value on material things can lead to misery.

Due to her obsession with material possessions, Madame Loisel never achieves real happiness. At the beginning of the story, her dissatisfaction with her current possessions is shown through her constant daydreaming. The writer highlights the differences between her perceived reality and imagined ideal with contrasting adjectives: her apartment is “run-down”, “peeling” and “battered”, but she dreams of a room which is “great”, “fine” and “tall”. Again, when she is eating her dinner, an abundance of adjectives highlights the material things that she wishes for: “elegant”, “gleaming”, “mythical”, and many more. This constant daydreaming prevents her from enjoying her real life. The damaging nature of this approach is highlighted by the contrast with her more contented husband, who is happy and excited about his stew.

One major theme of the story is that appearances can be deceiving. When Madame Loisel finally achieves her dream of being admired for her appearance, she is simply using material possessions to create a deceptive appearance of her wealth. Whilst she achieves temporary pleasure at the “homage, admiration and desire” that this evokes, her anxiety returns when she has to wear “a commonplace coat” that betrays her average wealth. The alliteration reflects her disgust. The coat is described as “violently” contrasting the rest of her appearance; the hyperbolic language here shows the strength of Madame Loisel’s emotions regarding material things. The central storyline of the necklace offers the most obvious lesson about the deception of appearances: it appears valuable, when it is in fact an imitation. It is this deceptive appearance which causes Madame Loisel and her husband years of poverty.

The overall message of this story is that material possessions should not be valued too highly. It is literally valuing the necklace too highly that leads the Loisels to have to live in poverty. Their emotional struggle begins as soon as the necklace is lost, and continues for another ten years. The struggle that they face as a result of this mistake is emphasised with the emotive imagery used to describe their new lives. Their lives are “grindingly horrible”, and Loisel fears “the grim poverty which stood ready to pounce”. This image personifies poverty as a predatory animal, making it seem frightening and even life-threatening. This experience renders Madame Loisel’s initial dissatisfaction with her possessions ironic, as her desire for better possessions ultimately led to her losing her own.

The moral of this story shows the importance of being satisfied with what one has, and not placing too much value on material things, since they do not lead to happiness.

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