Irony in Two Short Stories Essay
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She also learns, too late, that the jewels and the life she coveted so long ago was a sham. Hence, the symbolic nature of the necklace itself -- although it appears to have great value, it is in fact only real in appearance, not in reality and the heroine is incapable of assessing the false necklace's true worth.
The tale of "The Necklace" conveys the moral that what is real, the replacement she returned to Madame Forstier, can be won not with beauty but with hard work, sweat, and toil. Like "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Necklace" revolves around the use of irony and a single, symbolic element, exemplified in the title object that works throughout the tale, using the literary device of irony, to reveal the protagonist's moral character. That final revelation engineered by the title object makes the story compelling, even if both protagonists may seem morally repugnant. The tone of the stories, one of creeping horror in Poe, versus the lighter and more cruelly humorous tone of "The Necklace" may differ, but ultimately both strive to show the false world-view of the protagonist embodied in both the heart and the piece of false jewelry.
In contrast, the central character of Guy de Maupassant's "A Piece of String" is a fairly likeable individual, an honest peasant. He is a man so honest in fact, that he is physically as well as emotionally and socially crippled by allegations that he failed to return a lost wallet. The title of the story, like "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Necklace" refers to the single, physical symbolic element of the tale, around
which the story revolves. However, rather than symbolizing the protagonist's guilt or shallowness, the string refers to the innocent action of the man, as he picked up a piece of string from the dirt. That one action caused him to be blamed for refusing to return a wallet containing five hundred francs. No one believes the man, and even after the wallet is found, he continues to be blamed and mocked others, and his reputation is ruined because of vague sense that the peasant must be mixed up in the affair of the missing wallet, somehow, being guilty by association. He picked up a piece of string because it might seem useful, but ironically the string, ultimately useless, was only of use in destroying its finder.
The themes of the capricious nature of life are manifest in both de Maupassant tales, as well as the irony by which a reversal of fortune can occur. Poe's tale is driven more by irony of character than circumstance, although the de Maupassant woman's shallowness and the "A Piece of String" peasant's scrupulous honesty and thrift have a role in bringing about their own ironic demise. Irony drives the plot and sharpens the reader's interest in the story and its central, symbolic, title element, an element that exists in the mind of Poe's protagonist, but is all to real for the protagonists of the de Maupassant "The Necklace" and "A Piece of String."
Works Cited de Maupassant, Guy. "The Necklace." Classic Short Stories. 28 Jun 2008. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/necklace.html de Maupassant, Guy. "A Piece of String." Classic Short Stories. 28 Jun 2008. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/string.html
Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Tell-Tale Heart." The Online Literature Library. Literature.org.
28 Jun 2008. http://www.literature.org/authors/poe-edgar-allan/tell-tale-heart.html
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