The Jewelry By Guy De Maupassant Essays Example
“The Jewelry” is the casual name of Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The False Gems”. In “The False Gems” Maupassant uses the realistic approach and eliminates the moral judgment and long digressions found in most writings. This short story entertains and moves the audience to ponder the deeper and hidden meaning of events. It entails symbolism, irony, diction and subtle allegory. Maupassant masters irony by blurring the boundaries between art and reality. He uses allegory to underscore and bend the essential nature (greed and deception) of the characters to the perceived truths (standard of living). The protagonists in the short story include Monsieur Lantin and his wife. Maupassant uses a narrator that embodies most of the views of Monsieur Lantin and his wife is silent throughout the story. However, Mrs. Lantin’s actions speak louder than words. “The False Gems” serves to educate the reader on how our perception of reality serves our interests. It denotes the role lies told by people in our lives play in an effort to give us happiness or vice versa when they are revealed. Monsieur Lantin is a simple man who works at the department of the interior as a chief clerk earning a minimal salary of three thousand five hundred francs. At the beginning of the short story, Monsieur Lantin fell hopelessly in love with a young woman, who he married (De Maupassant 365). He absolutely adores his wife. As the short story is narrated we see him living in a superficial reality of marital bliss. Lantin places his beautiful wife in a plinth of virtue and she is the source of his happiness. However, her death reveals a shocking truth; his perception of their lives is far from their true reality. Lantin sees deception in his life and marriage but does not confront it, he is happier being deceived. Lantin’s relationship has an essence that is cleverly woven in the story. Monsieur Lantin only finds fault in two of his wife’s tastes “Her love for the theatre and her taste for imitation jewelry” (De Maupassant 365). Later in the plot one comes to associate the wife’s love for the theatre with the place where the wife meets her benefactor and her lover. Her taste for imitation jewelry goes to symbolize the passionate love shared between her and her lover that results in gifts of jewelry. One can assume that Lantin subconsciously knows that his wife’s passion for his so assumed imitation jewelry is the thing that can destroy his perceived happiness. This is the reason he finds fault in her love for the theatre and her taste for imitation jewelry. The faults that Lantin finds in his wife represent his subconscious fixation with the foundation of his marriage that is seriously lacking. Monsieur Lantin loathes accompanying his wife to the theatre “which bored him excessively after his day's work at the office” (De Maupassant 365). This symbolizes his lack of facing the reality of his crumbling marriage. Consciously or unconsciously his dislike for the theatre goes to show his subconscious knowledge of his wife’s infidelity. Lantin cannot face the reality that his life is an illusion. This is clearly displayed with his “infinite delight” when his wife agrees to go to the theatre with “some lady of her acquaintance” (De Maupassant 365). The theatre is an allure of the false reality. It is a symbol of the correlation between Monsieur Lantin and his wife’s deception. The theatre is masterfully woven to transport the reader to a physic of make believe, of sorrow and joy just in the right quantities.
The relationship between Lantin and his wife is an act filled with ecstatic emotions that are too painful to face in real life. This is an act that cannot be sustained in the long run; the painful truth always comes out. Lantin is vivaciously and gratefully enjoying having this deception. Lantin’s wife adorns herself in a costume (virtuous, elegant and faithful), pretending to be someone else. Her costume of an angelic and demure wife vividly illuminates the false pretense in the story. The illusion provides an escape for both the readers and the characters, which are more than receptive to the ruse. Lantin blindly believes in his wife’s production (acting). Lantin’s wife is very comfort with deceiving his husband. This is seen in the way she loves the theatre so much and spends all her time in it. The standard of living for Monsieur Lantin and his wife is based on deceit. Lantin perceives that his wife “governed his household with such clever economy that they seemed to live in luxury” (De Maupassant 365). This is far from the truth. Mrs. Lantin does not govern their modest income frugally and exceptionally well but supplements their income with the income obtained from her lover. The finer things in life are coveted by those who live above their means like the Lantins. The truth is that they have a modest income but since they covet the finer things in life Mrs. Lantin finds herself a lover and a benefactor and Mr. Lantin enjoys living in luxury and does not confront the infidelity.
The Lantins excesses are an illusion since they live well above their income level. The world of luxury they live in is created through deception. They fill the vacuum (deception and infidelity) with their need to live in luxury. Monsieur Lantin does not look deeper into how his wife is able to meet their needs and they are able to seem like they live in luxury. He is contended in blindly believing in the illusion of profit. His love and affection for his wife creates a blind spot that he readily welcomes and is ironically loyal to. Monsieur Lantin dislikes his wife wearing “imitation” jewelry and argues “you ought to appear adorned with your beauty and modesty alone, which are the rarest ornaments of your sex” (De Maupassant 365). One is inclined to think that Monsieur Lantin is subconsciously fearful of the attention the jewelry draws to his wife’s beauty. Monsieur Lantin may also be repelled by the artificial beauty created by the jewelry that makes his wife appear as a gleaming, vain and cold partner. He shies away from the artifice behind her beauty. Lantin is made to believe that the jewelry is an imitation by his wife saying “Look! Are they not lovely? One would swear they were real” (De Maupassant 365). He readily welcomes the deceit. Mrs. Lantin often brought out and admired her jewelry passionately while spending time with his husband. The jewelry seemed “as though they imparted some deep and secret joy; and she often persisted in passing a necklace around her husband's neck” (De Maupassant 365-366).
The false gems are symbolic of Mrs. Lantin’s lover. The fact that the jewelry is a central point of their everyday interactions goes to show the crucial part that Mrs. Lantin’s lover plays in their marriage. Mrs. Lantin stays physically attached to her lover by frequently fondling with the gems he gave her. She shares her lover with Monsieur Lantin when she insists on placing the necklace on him and kisses him affectionately (De Maupassant 635). While Monsieur Lantin is wearing her lover’s gifts he readily receives her passionate affection. Monsieur Lantin has no objection in being placed in her lover’s shoes. The enthusiasm and passion Mrs. Latin feels for her husband is a sham since it is intended for her lover. Through Monsieur Lantin the reader learns how easy it is to deceive ourselves and others in an attempt to gain happiness. Monsieur Lantin unravels this misconstrued impression of his wife and marriage when she dies and discovers that the imitation jewelry is indeed real and very valuable. He accepts the role he played in maintaining the illusion when he begins to recognize his wife’s many other deceptions. After facing the subconscious deception to himself he begins to deceive others by exaggerating the value of his inheritance with every new telling of his riches. The inheritance was the product of his wife’s deception and infidelity. Monsieur Lantin now begins to attend and enjoy the theatre he loathed and indulges in a life of luxury, carousing and disgrace (De Maupassant 639).
His eyes wide open; he marries his second wife who despite being very virtuous brings him much sorrow. This misguided characters and the lies that compose their lives illustrate how easily we are fooled and suspend the truth to obtain escapism. Self-indulgence, greed and infidelity make life unbearable therefore we favor escapism. The love and affection Monsieur Lantin feels for his wife blinds him and he cannot and will not ask any questions about those things which in a sensible environment do not make sense. He is blissfully happy until he confronts his wife’s deception. We tend to fall into the same trap, whether it is for love or just naivety, we fail to or refuse to see the deception that is right in our face and ironically this may be our salvation (happiness).
De Maupassant, Guy. The false gems. NuVision Publications, LLC. 2007. 365-368.Print.
De Maupassant, Guy. “The Jewelry.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 9th ed. Booth,
Alison et al, eds. New York: WW Norton, 2005. 634-639. Print.