A. Listen to Part 1 of a short story. Continue sentences 1-8 in your own words.
1 Mathilde was unhappy because…
2 She never visited Madame Forestier because…
3 Her husband was proud when he came home one night because…
4 Mathilde threw the invitation on the table because…
5 Her husband was really upset because…
6 He was able to give her the money for a dress because…
7 Mathilde was still unhappy because…
8 She was delighted when she visited Madame Forestier because…
When do you think the story takes place? What kinds of people are Mathilde and her husband? Who do you sympathize with more? Do you think Mathilde will enjoy the party?
1 she was socially ambitious, but poor.
2 she was jealous of her life of luxury.
3 he had gotten an invitation to a party at the Ministry.
4 she had nothing to wear to the party.
5 his wife didn’t want to go to the party and he had gone to a lot of trouble to get the invitation.
6 he had already saved the money for himself.
7 she didn’t have any jewelry.
8 she lent her a beautiful necklace to wear.
By Guy de Maupassant
Mathilde Loisel was a pretty and charming girl, but born into a poor family. She was ambitious, and thought she deserved to be part of the highest level of French society. As she grew up, she was increasingly ashamed of her circumstances, but there was little she could do about it. Eventually, she married a clerk at the Ministry of Education.
They led a simple life, and Mathilde suffered. She felt that she deserved a life of luxury, and their poor house and ugly furniture, and just one young servant, made her miserable. She had no dresses, no jewelry, nothing. She never visited her one rich schoolfriend, Madame Forestier, because she could not bear to see the life that she herself would never have.
One evening, her husband came home, proudly holding in his hand a large envelope.
“Here,” he said, “here’s something for you.”
She quickly opened it. It was an invitation from the Minister of Education to a party at the palace of the Ministry. But instead of being delighted, as her husband had hoped, she threw the invitation on the table.
“What do you want me to do with this?”
“My dear, I thought you would be please. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I went to a lot of trouble to get the invitation. Everybody wants one and not many are given to the clerks. You will meet all kinds of important people there.”
She looked at him impatiently and said, “What do you want me to wear to the party?”
He had not thought of that; he hesitated. “The dress you wear to the theater –“
He stopped, as he saw that his wife was crying.
“What’s the matter? What’s the matter?”
Mathilde wiped her eyes and replied calmly, “Nothing. Only I have no dress, so I cannot go to this party. Give your invitation to some colleague whose wife has better clothes than I.”
Her husband was heartbroken.
“Look here, Mathilde, how much would this cost, a proper dress?”
She thought for a few seconds, and answered, “I don’t know exactly, but I think I could do it with four hundred francs.”
He grew a little pale. He had saved exactly this amount for a short trip the following summer with his friends. But he said, “All right. I will give you four hundred francs. But make sure you get a pretty dress.”
But as the day of the party drew near, Mathilde was still not happy. Although she now had her dress, she had no jewelry to go with it. When she told her husband, he suggested that she ask her friend Jeanne Forestier to lend her something.
Pleased with the idea, she went to her friend’s house, and told her about her distress. Madame Forestier agreed to lend her something. She tried on several pieces, but nothing was right, until she suddenly was a magnificent diamond necklace. To her joy, her friend let her borrow it.
B. Now listen to Part 2. Answer the questions.
1 Did Mathilde enjoy the party? Give examples.
2 How did they get home?
3 What did she discover when they got home?
4 What did her husband do?
5 What did they decide to do in the end?
6 How did they raise the money?
7 How did Madame Forestier react?
How do you think their lives will change now?
1 Yes, she did. She was the prettiest of all, all the men admired her, she danced all night.
2 They walked and then got a cab.
3 That she had lost Madame Forestier’s necklace.
4 Her husband went out to look for the necklace.
5 They decided to buy another necklace.
6 They used their savings and borrowed the rest.
7 She reacted coldly and told Mathilde she should have returned the necklace sooner.
N = narrator, L = Mr. Loisel, M = Mathilde Loisel, F = Madame Forestier
N The day of the party arrived. Mathilde was a success. She was the prettiest of them all, elegant, smiling, and mad with joy. All the men stared at her, asked her name, and asked to be introduced. She danced all night in a cloud of happiness.
They left at about four in the morning. It was a cold night, and her husband could not find a cab.
They walked towards the Seine, shivering, and finally found one.
When they got home, Mathilde took off her cloak, but as she glanced at the mirror to see herself one last time, she suddenly gave a cry.
Her husband, half undressed already, asked…
L What is the matter with you?
N She turned to him, in terror.
M The necklace. I have lost Madame Forestier’s diamond necklace!
N He jumped up, frightened.
L What? How? It is not possible!
N They searched everywhere, but they did not find it. They had no way of contacting the cab driver. Her husband rushed out and retraced their steps from the Ministry to where they had caught the cab. He came back at about seven o’clock in the morning. He had found nothing. He went to the police, to the newspapers, and to the cab companies to offer a reward, hoping against hope that it would be found.
L You must write to your friend…
N …he said…
L …that you have broken the clasp of her necklace and that you are having it repaired. That will give us time to decide what to do.
N By the end of the week they had lost all hope. The next day they went from jewelr’s to jewelr’s, looking for a necklace like the one Mathilde had borrowed.
In a shop in the Palais Royal, they found a diamond necklace that seemed to them absolutely identical. The price was thirty-six thousand francs.
Monsieur Loisel had eighteen thousand francs, which he had inherited from his father. He borrowed the rest, asking a thousand francs from one friend, five hundred from another, doing business with money lenders, and signing promises to pay which he was not sure he would be able to keep. Finally, he was able to raise the eighteen thousand more that they needed.
When Mathilde took the necklace back to Madame Forestier, she said, coldly…
F You should have brought it back sooner. I might have needed it.
C. Listen to Part 3. Answer the questions.
1 How did life change for Mathilde?
2 How did it change for her husband?
3 What had they achieved at the end of the ten years?
4 How had Mathilde changed over the ten years?
Who do you think suffered the most, Mathilde or her husband? Why? What do you think would have happened if Mathilde hadn’t lost the necklace? How do you think the story ends?
1 They moved to a small attic with no servant. She had to do all the housework and shopping, and wear worn-out clothes.
2 He worked in the evening and at night.
3 They had paid everything back that they owed.
4 Mathilde now looked like an old woman.
Mathilde now learned the terrible life of the really poor. Heroically, she made the best of it. The debt must be paid. She would pay it. They dismissed their servant; they left their house and rented a small attic under the roof.
She learned how to do housework, and how to cook. She washed the dishes, wearing out her pink nails on the greasy pots and the bottoms of the pans. She washed their dirty sheets and clothes. She took their rubbish down to the street every morning, and she carried up the water, pausing for breath on every floor. Wearing old, worn-out clothes, she went out to the greengrocer, the grocer, the butcher, with a basket on her arm, bargaining, insulted, fighting to save a sou here or there.
Every month, they had to pay back part of the money they had borrowed. Her husband worked in the evening, doing the accounts for a shopkeeper, and at night, often, he did copying at five sous the page.
This life lasted ten years. At the end of ten years, they had paid everything back, everything, with all the accumulation of interest.
With her badly combed hair, and her red hands, Mathilde now looked like an old woman. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window, and she thought of that evening long ago, of that party, where she had been so beautiful and so admired.
What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? Who knows?
D. Listen to the end of the story. Did it end the way you expected?
Do your feelings for Mathilde change during the story?
What do you think might have happened after the final conversation?
What do you think the message of the story is?
Suggested answer for the message of the story
The moral of the story is that you should be happy with what you have.
N One Sunday, after a hard week’s work, Mathilde decided to go for a walk in the Champs-Élysées. As she was walking, she saw a woman with a child. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still seductive.
Mathilde felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that they had paid off the debt, she would tell her everything. Why not?
M Good morning, Jeanne.
N Madame Forestier did not recognize her. She hesitated.
F But, madame, I don’t know you. Are you not making a mistake?
M No. I am Mathilde Loisel.
N Her friend gave a cry.
F Oh, my poor Mathilde, how changed you are.
M Yes, I have had hard times since I last saw you, and many troubles, and all because of you.
F Because of me? How can that be?
M You remember that diamond necklace that you lent me, to go to the party at the Ministry?
F Yes. I remember.
M Well, I lost it.
F That’s not possible. You brought it back to me.
M I brought you back another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You will understand that it was not easy for us; we had no money…But it’s paid for at last.
N Madame Forestier stared at her.
F You say that you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?
M Yes. You did not even notice it, did you? They were exactly alike.
N Madame Forestier, much moved, took her by both hands.
F Oh, my poor Mathilde. But my diamonds were false; they were imitation. At most they were worth five hundred francs!
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