The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry: Summary, Theme & Analysis - Video & Lesson Transcript Essay

This course covers O. Henry's famous brief tale, ''The Gift of the Magi.'' We will cover the story's plot, evaluate some of its major themes, and finish with a quick quiz.

Plot Summary

The Gift for the Magi is a well-known brief story by American quick tale journalist O. Henry, the pen title of William Sydney Porter. The tale first appeared in This new York Sunday World on December 10, 1905 and ended up being later on posted in O. Henry's collection The Four Million on April 10, 1906.

The tale tells of a married few, James, known as Jim, and Della Dillingham. The couple has very little cash and life in a modest apartment. Between them, they have only two belongings they consider their treasures: Jim's gold pocket view that belonged to their dad and his grandfather, and Della's lustrous, long hair that falls nearly to the woman knees.

It is Christmas time Eve, and Della finds herself running away from time for you to buy Jim a xmas present. Right after paying every one of the bills, all Della has left is $1.87 to put toward Jim's xmas present. Desperate to locate him an ideal gift, out she switches into the cold December day, searching in shop windows for one thing she can afford.

She really wants to purchase Jim a string for their pocket watch, nonetheless they're all from the woman cost range. Rushing home, Della brings down her breathtaking hair and stands at the mirror, admiring it and thinking. After a sudden motivation, she rushes away again and has the woman locks cut to offer. Della gets $20.00 for offering her locks, just enough buying the platinum string she saw in a shop window for $21.00.

Whenever Jim returns from work, he stares at Della, trying to figure out what's various about her. She admits that she offered her locks buying their present. Before she will give it to him, but Jim casually brings a package from their overcoat pocket and fingers it to the girl. In, Della finds a pair of costly decorative hair combs that she'd very long admired, but are now completely worthless since she's cut off her locks. Hiding her rips, she jumps up and holds out her present for Jim: the watch string. Jim shrugs, flops down onto the old sofa, sets his fingers behind his mind and informs Della flatly that he sold their view to purchase the woman combs.

The story ends with a comparison of Jim and Della's gift ideas toward gift suggestions that the Magi, or three wise guys, gave to Baby Jesus in the manger inside biblical tale of xmas. The narrator concludes that Jim and Della are far wiser versus Magi because their gift suggestions are presents of love, and the ones whom hand out of love and self-sacrifice are undoubtedly smart simply because they understand the value of self-giving love.

Theme and Moral

The present of the Magi is a vintage exemplory instance of irony in literary works. Irony is a literary technique by which an expectation of what's expected to happen varies significantly from real outcome. In this case, Jim and Della lose their many treasured possessions so your other can fully enjoy his / her gift. Jim sells his watch to get Della's combs, expecting the lady to utilize them. Della sells the woman hair buying Jim a chain for their watch. Neither expects one other to possess made that sacrifice.

The irony right here works both on a practical as well as on a much deeper, more emotional level. Both Della and Jim purchase both something special that eventually seems economically silly. Being poor, they can not manage to waste money in things they can not use. But whatever they get is something they do not expect: an even more intangible gift that reminds them how much they love each other and are also willing to lose to help make both pleased.

The story's setting at the holidays are makes it a popular story for the christmas. Its major theme is the difference between wisdom and foolishness, or having or not having, a feeling of judgment and understanding.

Both Jim and Della behave impulsively, compromising their best treasures without thinking about the effects and concentrating instead on making the other person delighted. From a completely practical perspective, this doesn't make much feeling since they can not benefit from the presents which are designed to cause them to delighted.

Jim and Della are considering the current minute and also the product belongings giving us pleasure. What they foolishly don't realize, but is the fact that they will have provided one another a larger gift: their sacrificial love. The class they ultimately learn is the fact that their love for every single other may be worth a lot more than every one of the product possessions money can purchase. O. Henry makes a somewhat funny though a meaningful comparison involving the Magi into the Bible and Jim and Della at the end for the story:

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The Magi, as you know, were wise guys — wonderfully wise males — who brought gift suggestions to your newborn babe in the manger. Being wise, their presents had been without doubt wise people, possibly bearing the privilege of change in case of duplication. And here i've lamely associated with you the uneventful chronicle of two silly children in a flat… who many unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of these household. However in a last term towards the smart among these days, allow it to be stated that all who give gift suggestions, these two were the wisest.

Right here, O. Henry again emphasizes the thematic distinction between knowledge and foolishness in relation to the worth of self-giving love. The wise males had been smart in a practical feeling. The comical reference to their gifts being exchangeable in case of replication relates to the pragmatic side of thoughtfulness in present providing: spending money wisely and choosing something special that some one doesn't curently have and may make use of. Jim and Della, however, despite their apparent foolishness, are wise an additional sense; that's, in their ability to appreciate the sentimental meaning behind gift-giving that goes deeper than a gift's product worth.

The ethical associated with the tale, then, is that the meaning behind gift giving is not the product gift it self, but the work of love and thoughtfulness that motivates the present. That is an especially sentimental message throughout the Christmas period if the rush to purchase gift suggestions and get all of the shopping done often makes united states forget this simple truth.

Lesson Summary

The present of Magi is a quick tale by the American writer O. Henry, written and published in 1905. It requires place at the holidays are and informs the tale of Jim and Della Dillingham, an undesirable, young married few that donot have enough money to get each other xmas gifts. While the present regarding the Magi unfolds, both sell their many prized control to pay for a present for the other. Jim sells his view buying Della a pair of decorative combs for her locks, and Della sells her locks buying Jim a chain for his watch.

O. Henry's story is a classic exemplory instance of literary irony, the contrast between an expectation of just what will occur and exactly what in fact happens. Jim and Della each purchase gift suggestions for one another, hoping to make one another delighted. They never anticipate their actions may have a completely different outcome: that their presents are basically unusable. But they will have provided each other a larger gift in showing simply how much they love one another. The major theme for the tale may be the distinction between knowledge and foolishness, as well as the meaningful providing of gift suggestions as an act of love rather than a merely practical motion.

Learning Outcomes

Upon finishing this lesson on Gift associated with the Magi, you could:

  • Summarize The Gift associated with Magi by O.Henry
  • Discuss the major themes of this tale represented in actions of the figures
  • Highlight the feeling of literary irony in story and comprehend the class your figures ultimately learn

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