Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The False Gems by Guy de Maupassan

The False Gems 

by Guy de Maupassan


My first impression of The False Gems by Guy de Maupassan was that it was mediocre. During my second and third reading of the short story, I was able to understand the author's intent and appreciated it much more. The story begins with M. Lantin, who is the chief clerk at the office of Minister of Interior and his wife. The wife is described as "a perfect type of the virtuous woman in whose hands every sensible young man dreams of one day entrusting his happiness." Guy de Maupassan uses adjectives such as virtuous, angelic, pure, and modest to further empathize the merits his new bride. Nevertheless, it is clear to the reader that Madam Lantin "is too good to be true." Moreover, the author hints to irony in the fourth paragraph, "She governed his household with such clever economy that they seemed to live in luxury." The word choice of "seemed" was another clue that Madam Lantin was as the title suggest a false gem. I also found it intriguing how Guy de Maupassan choses adjectives that are in contrast to the character's personality.

The shape and story structure was easy to follow. Guy de Maupassan was clear with the time frame of the short story and gave simplistic detail on how six years had passed without too much or too little description. I was surprised at how abrupt the death in the story was told. It was brilliant to create this emotional shock toward the middle of the short story because it helped to create the tone. Irony was used throughout The False Gems. For example, it is ironic that a prostitute would take care and financially support the man she loves.

I do wonder if the story seed for this tale came from Guy de Maupassan personal life. It has been common knowledge that he visited several brothels during his lifetime. He has written another short story titled, Boule de Suif where the theme is that "prostitutes are inherently noble but victimized women." The fact that Maupassant has chosen a prostitute to represent his ideal woman in both The False Gems and Boule de Suif is thought provoking. Furthermore, I am curious as to what the reception of his work was during the late-19th century compared to now.

As a writer, I have learned much from this short story. First, that the use of cynicism and irony can create thought provoking work. Second, characters are the representations of the personalities of the story. Guy de Maupassan doesn't need to give a first name in order to develop his characters and still make them dynamic with change. Most of all, I learned that social context of problems or issues can enhance a plot in a story. I immensely enjoyed The False Gems by Guy de Maupassan.


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