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Personification. If this word is throwing you for a loop, and you’re struggling to find examples of it in the short story ‘The Necklace,’ look no further. In this lesson, we will explore examples personification in ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant.

Personification

Take a look at this sentence: ‘The sun kissed our faces as we walked through the park.’ What’s going on here? Does the sun have lips? How can the sun kiss someone? While this sentence doesn’t seem to make any sense, there’s a reason why it’s written like this.

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This sentence uses a technique called personification. Put simply, personification is when a writer gives human characteristics to a non-human thing.Another example would be, ‘The stairs moaned in protest with every step I took.’ In this example, we are suggesting that the stairs can vocalize and also that they have emotions and care enough to protest the person walking on them.

Fate

Lucky for us, the very first sentence of ‘The Necklace’ contains an example of personification. The sentence reads ‘She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans.’ Can you spot the example of personification here?Take a moment and read back through that sentence. Zero in on the part that reads ‘fate had blundered over her.’ By making it clear that fate is to blame for Mathilde’s lame life, the narrator removes all responsibility from Mathilde herself.

She isn’t poor and unhappy because she chose it; she is poor and unhappy because fate has ruined and blundered her life.

Tormenting House

Another example of personification comes when we learn how Mathilde feels about her house and the way it looks. We know that she wishes everything were nicer and believes she deserves better. The narrator tells us ‘All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.

‘In this sentence, ‘All these things’ refers to her ugly curtains and crummy furniture. In other words, the sentence is telling us that her furniture and her plain, boring house torments and insults her. Since a house and furniture cannot literally insult a person, the narrator is giving them human characteristics. One of the results of this passage is that it helps convey just how miserable Mathilde is. She is not just unhappy about her life; she feels attacked by it.

Shameful Carriages

Another example of personification comes after Mathilde and her husband leave the fancy party. They are unable to get a taxi, so they decide to take a carriage, which the narrator describes as, ‘one of those old nightprowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.

‘The personification in this example comes when the narrator suggests that the carriages can be ashamed. Shame is certainly a human emotion, and suggesting that carriages have emotions is giving human characteristics to a non-human thing.

Lesson Summary

Personification is when non-human objects are given human characteristics.

In ‘The Necklace’ there are few different examples of personification. One is in the very first sentence of the story when the narrator tells us that fate blundered Mathilde’s life. Another example is when the furniture and curtains in Mathilde’s house are described as tormenting and insulting her. Finally, when Mathilde and her husband get in a shabby carriage, the narrator suggests that the carriages themselves are ashamed of how they look.

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