Comparing Guy de Maupassant's 'The Necklace' and Patricia Smith's 'What It's Like to Be a Black Girl'
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Comparative paper: Maupassant versus Smith
Both Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace" and Patricia Smith's poem "What It's Like to Be a Black Girl" function as female tragic coming-of-age tales. Maupassant's tale chronicles the folly of the young, beautiful Mathilde, a young woman who tries to live beyond her means and impress society with her appearance at a ball. When Mathilde loses a necklace she believes to be valuable, she must sacrifice everything she possesses to replace it, only to discover at the end of the ironic tale that the necklace was made of paste. In contrast, Smith's poem chronicling the strivings and yearnings of a young black woman against society does not condemn the speaker's aspirations for a better life, but instead celebrates them, even while she acknowledges the difficulties inherent in female self-actualization.
Maupassant's story of "The Necklace" has the quality of a fairy tale, only it is a Cinderella story in reverse: after a night at a stately ball, Mathilde is rendered into an ugly pauper by her labor. The characters are deliberately underdeveloped in the story: Mathilde is stereotypically 'flat' in her role as a spendthrift young wife, just like her husband, a dull clerk. The story is memorable because of the 'twist' on the fairy tale spun by the narrator. The plot is all-important, and like an Aesop's fable, it conveys a clear moral. The reality of the story seems rather questionable surely Mathilde would have approached her