Example plot outline for “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant
Exposition: A woman who is unhappy with her position in life yearns for a life of elegance.
Unfortunately she has married a minor clerk in a governmental position who
cannot afford to give her that. She spends her days grieving over her position and
dreaming of how life could be. To add to her grief, she has a friend who is well-
to-do whom she can no longer visit because it distresses her.
Rising Action: One day, her husband comes home with an invitation to an elegant governmental
ball that he procured at his office. This leads to a person versus society conflict
between the woman and society because she does not have the proper clothes to
wear. Her husband gives up money he has saved for a rifle to allow her to buy a
Rising Action: As the party approaches, the woman’s husband finds her once again distressed.
She has no jewelry to wear to the party. She feels that she will be the laughing
stock of the ball. Her husband suggests that she borrow some jewelry from her
rich friend, which she does, borrowing a rather expensive necklace.
Rising Action: She and her husband attend the party and instead of being a laughing stock the
woman is the belle of the ball. Every man wants to dance with her, and she stays
till the late hours while her husband falls asleep waiting. Eventually they leave,
but the woman wants to leave quickly so that no one sees her cheap coat.
Climax: When the woman and her husband get home they discover that the necklace is
missing. She must have dropped it on the way out of the party. The husband goes
out and retraces their footsteps but to no avail. They worry about what they will
Falling Action: The next day the couple goes out and finds a necklace that is identical to the lost
one. Unfortunately it cost over 30 thousand franks. They buy it, borrowing
money from every conceivable source, going into debt. The woman returns the
duplicate to her friend who does not notice the switch. They then spend the next
10 years paying back the loans. During this time they become basically paupers,
having to live a poorer life than they had before.
Resolution: At the end of the ten years, the woman has found a new sense of pride, having had
to work to pay off the debt. She no longer feels that life is unfair but actually feels
proud of her accomplishments. She runs into her rich friend on the street and
proudly walks straight up to her and tells her exactly what happened ten years
before. As a shock to the woman, her friend tells her that the necklace she
borrowed was a fake, worth only five hundred franks!