The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry

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Stories of love and sacrifice abound in literature. Perhaps one of the most well known stories among teens and adults is the tale of a poor, young couple struggling to find the perfect Christmas gifts for each other using their very limited means. They each manage to get what they think is the perfect gift for the other, but only accomplish this by selling a prized possession which effectively makes the new gifts impractical. This bittersweet narrative, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, illustrates the moral idea that a person, motivated by nothing but love for another, can possess a willingness to give in a self-denying way which necessitates that the reader consider that wealth be measured by something more than having money and material possessions. One of the most famous books containing parables is the Bible, and O. Henry utilizes biblical characters and ideas to help cement certain points in his parable about Jim and Della. A parable expresses an underlying moral point, similar to a fable, but with people as characters, and is traditionally presented orally. With its numerous incomplete sentences and grammatical errors the style of this story flows much like an oral tale. O. Henry utilizes characters such as King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba in an exaggerated comparison of worth to show how Jim and Della value their individual possessions. Jim’s gold pocket watch, which is a family heirloom that had belonged to his father and grandfather, would have made King Solomon jealous. Della’s hair, which “reached below her knee…like a [shining] cascade of brown waters,” rivaled the jewels of the Queen of Sheba (Henry). Additionally, Henry depends on the concept of the Magi in both the title and body of the stor... ... middle of paper ... ...ll Book Reviews (1990): Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. In this short article the writer summarizes “The Gift of the Magi” in the first two paragraphs. In the following paragraphs he talks about the typical twist ending and how it skillfully incorporates “genuine irony” found in the “deepest human relationships.” He also discusses the significance of the main characters’ sacrifices. Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Gift of the Magi." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. Shmoop is an online tool that provides analyses of literary works. For the “Gift of the Magi” one can find information such as themes, characters, analysis, quotes, a summary, and much more. Professionals with PhDs and Masters degrees, who are “hopelessly devoted to their topics,” compile the information. It is a great resource for literary writing.
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