IN MY EYES
By Edward B. Antonio
St. Thomas Aquinas listed the seven deadly sins as pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, fellas.
Pride and envy are the subjects of Guy de Maupassant’s story, “The Necklace” (La Parure) starring Madame Mathilde Loisel.
It was my th time to read the story, fellas, and I thought it’s worth sharing it for the value it projects.
Mathilde was one of those pretty, delightful girls who married a junior clerk in the Ministry of Education.
She dressed simply, being unable to afford anything better. She was unhappy all the time, for she felt that she was intended for a life of refinement and luxury. She was made unhappy by the run-down apartment they lived in, the peeling walls, the battered chairs, and the ugly curtains. She dreamed of elegant dinners, gleaming silverware, and tapestries which peopled the walls with mythical characters and strange birds in enchanted forests; she dreamed of exquisite dishes served on fabulous china plates, of pretty compliments whispered into willing ears.
She had no fine dresses, no jewelry, nothing. And that was all she cared about; she felt that God had made her for such things. She would have given anything to be popular, envied, attractive, and in demand.
She had a friend who was rich, a friend from her convent days, on whom she never called now, for she was always so unhappy afterwards. Sometimes, for days on end, she would weep tears of sorrow, regret, despair, and anguish.
One evening her husband came home looking highly pleased with himself. In his hand he brandished a large envelope.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I’ve got something for you.’
She tore the paper flap eagerly and extracted a printed card bearing these words:
The Minister of Education and Madame Georges Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry Buildings on the evening of 18 January.’
Instead of being delighted as her husband had hoped, she tossed the invitation peevishly onto the table because she had nothing to use or wear!
Her husband gave her 400 francs to buy a decent dress, but she had no jewelry on.
She said “there’s nothing so humiliating as to look poor when you’re with women who are rich.”
She borrowed a diamond necklace from a rich friend which she wore on the occasion. After a night of party and enjoyment, the couple went home at 4 the following morning only to find out the diamond necklace she was wearing all night was gone!
To replace the necklace, they mortgaged everything they had, incurred debts at exorbitant fees and interests, pooled every penny they saved through the years and worked extra time in the evenings to collect 34,000 francs which was the diamond necklace’s worth! They bought the necklace from a jeweler and “returned” it to the owner.
They worked for 10 years to pay their debts. Each month they had to settle some accounts, renew others, and bargain for time. They dismissed the maid. They moved out of their apartment and rented an attic room
One day, Mathilde, all rugged, spent, haggard and old, met Jeanne Forestier, her wealthy friend from whom she borrowed the diamond necklace.
Let’s read their conversation, fellas:
The friend did not recognize her and was taken aback at being addressed so familiarly by a common woman in the street. She stammered: ‘But … I’m sorry … I don’t know … There’s some mistake.’
‘No mistake. I’m Mathilde Loisel.’
Her friend gave a cry: ‘But my poor Mathilde, how you’ve changed!’
‘Yes, I’ve been through some hard times since I saw you, very hard times. And it was all on your account.’
‘On my account? Whatever do you mean?’
‘Do you remember that diamond necklace you lent me to go to the reception at the Ministry?’
‘Yes. What about it?’
‘Well I lost it.’
‘Lost it? But you returned it to me.’
‘No, I returned another one just like it. And we’ve been paying for it these past ten years. You know, it wasn’t easy for us. We had nothing. …But it’s over and done with now, and I’m glad.’
Madame Forestier stopped. ‘You mean you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?’
‘Yes. And you never noticed the difference, did you? They were exactly alike.’ And she smiled a proud, innocent smile.
Madame Forestier looked very upset and, taking both her hands in hers, said:
‘Oh, my poor Mathilde! But it was only an imitation necklace. It couldn’t have been worth much more than five hundred francs!’
Lesson: Let’s live within our means and stop being unhappy by envying the fortunes of others.
Mang Maing said it better: “Pride and envy have open ears to those who come to them.”#