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Maupassant Essay, Research Paper

The Pessimistic Writer

A watchmaker and haberdasher from Paris, a peasant from Goderville, and an unhappy woman from Martyr Street, are all intertwined in Maupassant s writing. Guy de Maupassant, the famed nineteenth century French Storyteller distinctively outlines the bitterness, brutality, and pessimism that these four characters experience in his three short stories, Two Friends, The Piece of String, and The Necklace. The author embraces their brutality and ferocity of man (Lemaitre). His characters are all in some way governed by blind instincts that lead to their fall. Maupassant s pessimistic outlook on life rises to the surface in Two Friends, The Piece of String, and The Necklace.

Beneath the famine and agony in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, Maupassant portrays a pessimistic view of life when two friends search for consolation in their lives to overcome their difficulties with a fishing trip, only to have their lives turned upside down. M. Morissot, a respected watchmaker and M. Sauvage, an esteemed haberdasher, change to become local militiamen, not by choice but by authority; consequently are deeply affected by great troubles. Every Sunday, before the war, M. Morissot left at dawn, bamboo pole in his hand, and a tin box on his back ( Two Friends 914). He was always content, escaping reality life with M. Sauvage, his riverside acquaintance. Together they quietly fished at a deserted river, enjoying the sun pouring down on their backs (916). During the war it became too dangerous to fish at the streams; however, that wouldn t stop them from enjoying themselves. Consequently, the characters ignorance brings about their death at the hands of the Prussians. The Prussians were stern people, primarily evident in the officer, who is stereotyped as a hairy giant. He refuses to accept that these two friends aren t spies by rejecting the truth (917). As a result, Maupassant seems to imply that the only way these two friends, can reach their solace in all the hate and pessimism of the war is to depart the world together.

Similarly, in The Piece of String, a life filled with hardship and labor is turned worse by pessimism. Following his obsession with the difference between appearance and reality, Maupassant lays out a thin line

of a journey in a town of Goderville where a piece of string produces surprising overtones and renounces (Sullivan). Maitre Hauchecome of Breaute an economical Norman, with a shrewd personality that proves to be a negative trait when he is accused of theft, stumbles upon a piece of string on his way toward the public square; in spite of his rheumatism, he bends to pick it up ( The Piece of String 4). Coincidentally, that day a pocketbook that contains five hundred francs and some business papers is lost. Maitre Malandain, who is a man worthy of credence, subsequently accuses Maitre Hauchecome of picking up the pocketbook (7). Whenever Maitre Hauchecome would come to town following the incident, his fellow friends accuse him of theft, even after the pocketbook was found; apparently, they know that he has always gotten himself out of dilemmas. He died in the first days of January, and in the delirium of his death struggles he kept claiming his innocence . . . (11). Maitre Malandain, a harness maker who has business with Maitre Hauchecome on the subject of a halter, soon becomes Maitre Hauchecomes s adversary (5). Maitre Malandain shows ill will toward Maitre Hauchecome because of previous troubles. Furthermore, Maupassant also reveals all aspects of life are concealed by ignorance and timidity. The peasants are portrayed negatively as painful laborers of their country with whole bodies bent, bony bodies and deformed by hard work (3). As a result, Maupassant deliberately gives his readers a sense that his characters are bound to the pretense of life, and activity that is situated on the edge of travesty.

Most startlingly, the pessimism of Maupassant s victims does not cease; in fact, in The Necklace, it actually appears to increase. His next victim is a women born to luxury and wealth who lets herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans, ( The Necklace 296). Mme. Loisel suffers endlessly, from the destitution of her home, from the hideous curtains to the worn-out chairs. She feels she should be in the upper class and should not be faced with such difficulties. She dreams of being wealthy, of having vast saloons and elegant pieces of furniture; besides that, she imagines graceful meals, and most of all, she wants beautiful clothes and jewels of which she had none. Even though her husband tries to make her happy by getting a maid so she will not have to do the housework, she is always full of regrets. Her husband is a hardworking educator who scrapes every penny for his wife, even sacrificing his own riches for her. When

they are invited to a ball, he decides it would make his wife happy. She of course is appalled at the idea of going to the ball without a new dress. He turned pale, for he had saved just this sum of money to buy a gun that he might be able to join some hunting parties the next summer on Nanterre (298). In contrast, Mme. Forestier, a major part of the Mme. Loisel s future, is upper class and a woman just like Mme. Loisel wants to be. She is beautiful, rich, and possesses luxuries one can only dream about. Yet, she is not a very compassionate woman; in fact she costs the Loisels ten irreplaceable years of hardship. After meeting with Mathilde 10 years later, Mme. Forestier only offers Matilda superficial sympathy (301). The characters, Mathilde, her husband and Mme. Forestier aptly demonstrate Maupassant s pessimism.

Maupassant s pessimism surfaces through his characters in Two Friends, The Piece of String, and

The Necklace, by showing the disproportion between the world as we view it and the way it really is. Still, Maupassant creates the perfect image of life by staging his senses to reveal life as it is; at the same time, he shows that his senses can be deceptive. However, he is haunted both by what he may miss and by what he may find, but all he can do is continue his exploration to the end, (Sullivan).


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