Books Review

The three stories that this essay will embrace are “The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville and “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. All of these stories are concerned with the societal problem of perceiving the world through the materialistic prism. Those stories are depicting the problem in different ways through the examples of people suffering in situations they find themselves in.

The lawyer in the famous story by Melville is a representation of the bourgeois part of the society, who speaks of himself in such a manner “All who know me consider me an eminently safe man” meaning that he chose a safe path in life and endures a profession that will definitely bring him profit and stable position in the society. There is a scrivener in his firm who is of a different standing, a rather existentialist one who is not willing to confirm to values of society in the face of his boss. The two of them will never find a common language, as one is surrounding himself by the walls of egoism and material things in his Wall Street office while the other is trying to find meaning in nonexistent imaginary things. Bartleby also builds walls from the outside vicious world that’s not a safe place for those who do not confirm, in this way Melville states that whoever is unwilling to agree will have to leave, which it true because poor scrivener dies unable to survive. Non-conformity to the materialistic values does not serve good for the hero and neither explains anything to the selfish lawyer , thus leaves things as they were and only the writer makes his point of view clear.

Another story with an ironic and cruel ending is “The Necklace”. Madame Loisel “had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved” , so the author sets the main idea of the story in those lines. Madame was a very unhappy woman with a loving and caring husband whom she didn’t notice however. The light of the diamonds and warmth of expensive furs were the only things she was striving for but could not receive as she was poor. Her understanding of happiness was brutally laughed at by the author in the course of the story. He makes he rethink the meaning of her life when she loses a cheap necklace but has to repay thousands of franks. The borrowed necklace in this story represents wrong treasures that Madame Loisel is eager to get, it costs nothing and the diamonds are fake although they are sparkling as real. Materialistic pleasures bring only suffering and despair which our heroine is experiencing in full while working to pay the debt off. Maupassant criticizes such understanding of happiness and makes the lady rethink her values through misery and poverty that she never knew before that unhappy evening. Clearly the ending of the story when Loisel meets her old friend with a child proves the point that the author found joy in different things other than money. “Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.” was walking with a child and this child was a source of her wealth and beauty not jewels that were hidden in the boxes. Ironically enough the author makes her a rich one and Madame Loisel a “poor” friend, in this manner showing his attitude toward those who seek material wealth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *