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The Gift Of The Magi Essay

1402 words - 6 pages

LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

The Gift of the Magi is one of the most popular short stories by O. Henry, a pen name for William Sydney Porter - a renowned American author. Originally published in 1906, in O. Henry’s second collection of short stories, The Gift of the Magi which displays all of the major O. Henry traits in abundance has given him credit for his genuine talent. It has been retold in various forms since then, especially at Christmas time. The story is about a young poor couple, Jim and Della Dillingham Young, who each sells their most precious possession in order to buy a Christmas gift for their partner, but in doing so, they end up making ...view middle of the document...

Her concerns greatly represent her deep love and passion for her husband, which absolutely features the theme of love within the story. However, all she has saved, one dollar and eighty-seven cents, is definitely not enough to give Jim a valuable gift that he will be proud of owning. As a result, she comes to a daring decision that starts the rising action part of the story. Della sells her hair, which she most treasures, to get twenty dollars in return. This is an obviously great sacrifice which is born out of love. She then spends most of the day searching around the city until she finds a platinum fob chain for his watch, a gift that would increase not only the watch’s value but also make him proud and happy. Hurriedly returning to the flat, she fixes her hair so as not to upset Jim and starts to make Christmas Eve dinner. When Jim comes home form work, he stands still and shows a peculiar expression on his face which terrifies Della now that she can not read it. O. Henry brilliantly pushes his story to its climax when Jim gives Della a present first, and it turns out to be the tortoise shell combs she had craved and yearned over without the least hope of possession. Yet Jim’s gift seems to be useless because she had her hair cut. Nevertheless, Della still stays positive – she tightly hugs the valuable present then comforts Jim and herself that her hair will grow so fast. In response to Jim’s kindness, Della eagerly holds her gift out to him upon her open palm. In contrast with the expression she expected from Jim, he tumbles down on the couch, and with a smile spreading across his face, he calmly reveals to Della that he had sold his watch to acquire money to get her the combs. This is indeed a surprising turn of events that readers find so interesting and emotional. The couple displays great love for each other, because they both show a desire to offer their partners the best gift possible. However, their financial constraints leave them with least discretionary space and they have no choice but to sacrifice the only possessions they treasure in their lives - Della’s hair and Jim’s watch. There was no greater sacrifice that would have been offered apart from what the two did. Della’s endless love for Jim is particularly portrayed when she not only swallows her pride to shamelessly haggle and humiliate herself in grocery purchases, but further shaves her hair and sacrifices her good looks to secure Jim a present that would show her great love for Jim. As a falling action, when the truths all unfold, the couple realizes that both of their gifts are currently worthless due to their “foolish sacrifice”. Consequently, Jim suggests that they should put away their Christmas gifts and save them for later use. The Gift of the Magi bears simple yet effective use of paradoxical coincidences to produce a striking and unexpected irony for the ending. Though the presents Jim and Della had made effort to buy...

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