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"The Gift of the Magi" introduction

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by

C Meyer

on 16 September 2015

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Transcript of "The Gift of the Magi" introduction

What's up with the title?
The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry
The Magi
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
(cc) photo by Franco Folini on Flickr
(cc) photo by Metro Centric on Flickr
Summary
The Setting
Where it all goes down...
How it all goes down...
Born as William Sydney Porter
aka O. Henry
Worked as a
reporter,columnist,
and cartoonist
O. Henry
Sent to prison and
wrote short stories
Stories known for their playful humor and surprise twist endings
The story opens with $1.87. That's all Della Dillingham Young has to buy a present for her beloved husband, Jim. And the next day is Christmas. The short of it is they live in a shabby flat and they're poor. They love each other and will go to great lengths to buy the best presents for the person they love.
Christmas Eve at Jim and
Della's apartment
We discover how shabby their life is
This is where we learn about two very important possessions...
"The Gift of the Magi" is about a young couple who sacrifice everything they have of value to give each other the best Christmas present.
Who invented the practice of giving
Christmas presents in the first place?
*The three wise men
*Trio of kings who
traveled to find Jesus
*They gave Jesus gifts
The gifts the magi gave to Jesus must have been wise too (as the narrator of "The Gift of the Magi" suggests at the end of the story). These gifts must have been the smartest, best gifts anyone could have chosen.
And according to the narrator, that makes the two characters in this story – Jim and Della – just like the magi: they gave each other the wisest gifts of all.
O. Henry uses a lot of imagery
to emphasize this point
Why should I care?
IRONY!
Have you ever loved someone and wanted to find him or her just the perfect present? My bet is you have. Could be your mom, could be your significant other. And once you're in that gift-giving frame of mind, you're in the situation of Della, the main character from "The Gift of the Magi."
You'll probably also face the same questions Della did. What is a perfect gift? And how much (money, time, etc.) are you willing to give up to find something that would really matter to that person? You might even be lead to some surprisingly large questions. What really matters, and what's really valuable? For a short, simple, and delightful way of assuring yourself that "all you need is love," this story's hard to beat. Read it to get a major case of the warm and fuzzies. Though it might also make you think more carefully about just what "love" means.
Besides all that, to be honest, you've probably encountered this story somewhere even if you didn't know it. You might have seen it filtered through Sesame Street (which lodged it forever in your child subconscious), or you might have seen it recently parodied while watching The Simpsons. "The Gift of the Magi" is the original, though, and in our opinion, nothing's really touched it. It's hard not to be charmed by O. Henry's storytelling style.
Irony conveys a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meaning. In ironic situations (situational irony), actions often have an effect exactly opposite from what is intended.
Irony conveys a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meaning. In ironic situations (situational irony), actions often have an effect exactly opposite from what is intended.
Full transcript