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The Gift of The Magi

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Christine Roberson

on 20 May 2015

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Transcript of The Gift of The Magi

Young couple Della and Jim Dillingham live in New York City in the early 1900's. They did not have much, the only valuable things they owned were Jim's Gold watch and Della's long beautiful hair. Christmas was approaching, and they had to get each other a gift. Della, who saved up $1.87, knew it would not be enough to get Jim something nice. She decided to cut her hair, sell it, and use the money to get Jim a watch chain. When Jim arrived home, she showed him the gift she bought. The expression on his face startled Della and she asked him what was wrong. And it turns out, Jim sold his watch to buy Della the jeweled combs she had been wanting.
William Sydney Porter was born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
It was in 1887 when he married and began writing freelance sketches.
Indicted in for embezzling bank funds, then imprisoned in Ohio.
After being released, Porter moved to New York City and began writing under the pen name O. Henry.
In 1905, O. Henry published "The Gift and the Magi" and this became his most famous short story.
He died June 5, 1910 and his stories continued to be published, collected and read.


The Life of O. Henry
Setting
The Gift of the Magi was set in the early 1900's in New York, like most of O. Henry's stories.
This time period made money tight and life hard.
He chose this setting to signify the sacrifice that Della and Jim made for each other.
Mood
The Gift of the Magi is a touching love story.
It is ironic because by selling their most valuable things to buy for the other, they made their gifts useless.
Yet its adorable because the love they share is the kind of love you would strive for. It is unselfish and unconditional.
Though this story can be upsetting at times, like when Della cut her hair, it leaves you in awe.
Summary
By: Christine Roberson
The Gift of the Magi
Antagonist
Jim is the antagonist to Della, he is not necessarily the bad guy, but he opposes her.
He sold his gold watch, and made the watch chain Della bought a gift that can't be put to use.
Jim also bought her the jeweled combs even though Della cut all of her hair off, which made the combs useless.
Character Analysis
Della Dillingham is in love, and because of that she is determined.
She had the motivations of making her spouse happy and buying him what she believed was the best gift.
The actions she took to get him his present, which were selling her long beautiful hair, were selfless and kind.
She could be seen as the heroine of the story.
Protagonist
Della is the protagonist is this story, we know the most about her.
We know how upset she was because she almost couldn't afford to buy Jim a gift, and we know how happy she ended up being when she was able to.
Although it was in third person, this story mainly focused on what she was feeling, thinking, and how everything effected her.
In a more simpler term, you could say Della is the main character.
Conflicts
Man vs. Society- Della did not have enough money to buy a gift, she struggled with the problem of poverty.
Man vs. Self- Della debated on whether to cut her hair or to keep it, so it caused an issue between Della's conscience and her gut.
Man vs. Man- Della bought Jim a gift that went with his watch, but he ruined her plan by selling his watch.
Motivations
Jim and Della's motivations were to make each other happy. To do so they had to get the gifts that the other really wanted, no matter what it would cost them.
Long beautiful hair and a old gold watch did not mean as much as Della and Jim did to each other.
They sacrificed a lot to please their spouse, and were very altruistic about it.
Irony
The situational irony in The Gift of the Magi is presented by Jim and Della selling their most prized possessions, to buy each other a special Christmas gift.
The presents they bought can not be used without the objects they sold.
Therefore by trying to do something nice for each other, they really just counteracted the selfless intentions they shared.
Symbolism
The jeweled combs and the gold watch chain symbolizes the love that Della and Jim share.
These gifts are a token of appreciation and affection that this couple feels toward each other.
It was their way of expressing the strong feelings they have for one another.
Theme
Loved ones should always be put first.
This story can be a lesson to us all on the fact that now-a-days everyone puts themselves first.
People are too worried on what they can get or do, they are self-consumed.
In The Gift of the Magi, Della and Jim did not put themselves first. Instead they sacrificed something very dear, to make each other happy.
This is what it should be like more now.
Anyone who reads The Gift of the Magi would learn something very important from it.
Title
O. Henry gave this story the title "The Gift of the Magi" because he related the Dillinghams gifts to the gifts that the three wise men, who were known as the Magi, brought to the newborn Jesus Christ.
Although Della and Jim were not wise, their gifts were. In their case, it wasn't intelligence that made them wise, it was the fact they sacrificed a lot to see each other happiness.
Style
So distinct that critics gave his style the name "O. Henryism"
Uses surprise endings
Main character is a usually a shop girl
Repeats the same motive in his stories, which strikes a note of sacrifice
Has a folksy narrative voice
Copious allusions
Intricate language and dialogue
Metaphors and hyperboles
Cultural Effect
Personal strength and the certain circumstances characterizes many of O. Henry's stories.
His type of writing is derived from his past experiences.
Cultural inheritance caused a type darkness or fatalistic curve in his writing.
The Gift of the Magi wasn't actually dark or have a sad ending, it did have a sense of darkness. Just like O. Henry did in his life.
Themes & Meanings
In a criticism on "The Gift of the Magi" Rhona E. Zaid said “love conquers all, particularly material setbacks”
Even though money got in the way, love found a loophole to happiness.
O. Henry counterpoints an element of love with the note of sacrifice in this story.
Della and Jim's unselfish love made it possible to overcome all obstacles.
Opinion on Style
I think O. Henry's style and techniques of writing is very unique and necessary.
His plot structure is different from the common type. Instead of having the a usual climax and resolution, O. Henry changes it up and has a surprising twist.
Instead of using a high class character, he uses a struggling one. This is very inspiring because he is recognizing that not everyone's life is perfect.
The remarkable components of O. Henryism add up to a different type tale, apart from the normal, simple and predictable stories.
Opinion on Cultural Effect
O. Henry's life and experiences made him out to be the writer he is.
I believe that if he did not go through all that he did, he wouldn't of been such a great writer.
His life was not the typical easy one, it was hard and he went through a lot. If he did not, his stories would not be so realistic and unique.
Works Reference
Opinion on Theme
The theme of The Gift of the Magi is very sincere and unselfish.
Della and Jim gave up a lot for each other, and I believe that that was quite amazing.
I think that this story was one of the best stories I have read, and this is because of the theme and meaning of it.
Blansfield, Karen. “The Gift of the Magi” Cheap Rooms and Restless Hearts: A Study of Formula in the Urban Tales of William Sydney Porter (1988): 143. Rpt. in Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol 2.
Detroit: Gale, 1997. 77-80. Print.

Quinn, Arthur H. “The Gift of the Magi” The Journalists. (1936): 521-49. Short Story Criticism
The Gift of the Magi. MasterPlots 2. Vol. 3. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2004. Print.

“The Gift of the Magi.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 70-71.

"William Sydney Porter." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

"William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) (1862 - 1910)." The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-century American Short Story. Eds. Blanche H. Gelfant , Blanche H. Gelfant , and Blanche H. Gelfant . New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Credo Reference. Web. 9 Apr 2015.
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