The Gift of the Magi Short Story Analysis Essay

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry is a short story about James and Della Dillingham Young, and the events that occur one Christmas eve. The story begins with Della Dillingham Young frantically gathering her money to purchase a gift for her husband Jim Dillingham. Della loves her husband Jim so much, that she sacrifices her beloved hair in order to purchase a wrist band for Jims watch. Unbeknownst to her, Jim sacrificed his watch to purchase a set of combs that she always desired. Love, sacrifice and wealth are three main themes that can be found in this short story.

The love that Della and Jim share is unconditional. They are willing to sacrifice their most prized possessions to please one another. Although they are poor their love for one another makes them rich. The setting takes place on Christmas Eve in a very modest apartment. The couple’s humble living environment helps the reader clearly visualize their poverty. The fact that Della and Jim are poor forces them to sacrifice, while simultaneously making the sacrifices more meaningful. O. Henry uses imagery to depict the couple’s cheap, shabby living arrangements.

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The author creates a strong contrast between their poverty and their rich love for one another. This quote assists in illuminating this contrast: “She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. ” “The Gift of the Magi” is a fable. The author uses a simple situation to help make a complex moral point. The moral of this story is unconditional love is greater than physical riches. The tone of “The Gift of the Magi” is reminiscent. The narrator is not a character in the story, and appears to speak directly to the audience.

The narrator seems to be very wise, and well informed about the world. This can be seen when the narrator states: “There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. ’ As the author examines the lives of Della and Jim, the overall idea is that this story is being told from the perspective of a fond and quite personal memory.

The number three appears to be a very significant number in “The Gift of the Magi” . The title “The Gift of the Magi” gives a biblical allusion to the three wise men in the bible. The biblical story is about three wise men that brought gifts to Jesus. Another biblical illusion in the story is Della’s hair and Jims watch. “Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts.

Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy. ”The queen of Sheba and Solomon are both biblical figures. In the bible, the Queen of Sheba visits Solomon’s house and attempts to amaze Solomon with her riches. Solomon isn’t impressed by her riches Once the Queen of Sheba sees this, she begins to bombard Solomon with questions, and is impressed by how wise he is in his responses.

At the end of the story the narrator briefly describes the correrelation between his story and the story of the magi in the bible. “The magi were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. They invented the art of giving Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were wise ones. And here I have told you the story of two young people who most unwisely gave for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. ”


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