Willa Cather's Paul's Case And Maupassant's The Necklace

1910 words - 8 pages

Willa Cather's Paul's Case and Maupassant's The Necklace When comparing two fictional characters from two different writers one must first and foremost analyze their dreams, ambitions, or goals in the story. Whether the character is setting out to accomplish something physically, or they are on a personal or spiritual quest to find themselves. A character's ambitions can reveal a lot of underlying qualities that may not be as apparent at first glance from the reader. While many of the stories we have read this semester contain characters with very obvious similarities, I found that two in particular stood out for me the most. For the purposes of this paper I have chosen to write on Paul from Willa Cather's short story "Paul's Case" and Mathilde in "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant. I found that both of these characters complimented each other very nicely for this assignment, both wish to get a taste of lives they know they cannot have and in the end suffer for the thrill of it. Through the words of the authors we can see how miserable both characters are with their current stations in life and how much they strive to fit in with a "better" crowd. One may also see these characters as naïve, almost deserving of the tragedies that befall them due to the fact that they seem to dismiss their own class as inferior, and envy the upper class in the form of actors, aristocrats, political leaders, and social leaders.
In Cather's story of Paul's Case Paul is portrayed as being "tall for his age and very thin, with high, cramped shoulders and a narrow chest. (Kennedy)" He is referred to as using his eyes often in a very theatrical way. In these respects we learn from the very beginning that he doesn't fit in with the rest of his classmates and even his teachers. From the reference to his theatrical eyes which he "uses" we can easily deduce it is his attempt at playing the part of an upper class citizen that leads him to be shunned by his fellows. The line "His eyes were remarkable for a certain hysterical brilliancy and he continually used them in a conscious, theatrical sort of way…" is important because we later learn that his closes tie to this world he is longing for is an actor by the name of Charley Edwards. Paul feels that if he can emulate Edward's mannerisms and habits into his everyday life that he is somehow closer to the life he wants.
In direct comparison to this is Mathilde from Maupassant's "The Necklace." Like Paul she dreams of a life she is not born into and emulates those closest to her in...

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