The Gift Of The Magi

O. Henry


As the the author didn’t go into very much detail on what the setting was we did get a few hints that could tell us when and where the story “The Gift of the Magi” took place. In the story there was a great emphasis on how everybody was poor and how jobs didn’t pay much. The value of money due to inflation was very low. All of that suggests the story took place in the early 1900’s. Also the author talked about how the streets were so crowded with people and there were shops everywhere. She also stated numerous times that they were living in flats which is the equivalent to apartments. Which suggests that they live in an urban environment.


The conflict is very evident in the short story “The Gift of the Magi”. It is a few days before Christmas and Della, the main character of the story, is looking for a present for her husband jim. Because Della and Jim are very poor she only has one dollar and eighty seven cents to find Jim a present. Della is determined and motivated to find a great present to please Jim for Christmas.


The climax in the story is when Jim returns home on Christmas. To buy Jim a present Della cut off her long beautiful hair and sold it for money. Della was very nervous to see if Jim to see her. She was hoping that he would like her the same. When Jim returned home he was surprised but he loved her just as much and they spent the whole night together.


A theme is a statement that is universal and applies to everyone. The theme for the short story “The Gift of the Magi” is 'Love can cause people to make great sacrifices for the ones they love.'

Point of View

The story is told through the third person point of view.


A dynamic character is a character that undergoes a change in their thinking and their inner feelings throughout the story. They are most often the protagonist in the story.

A static character is a character that doesn't have very many assets and isn't very detailed. They could be described in a sentence.


Della is a passionate and cordial person. She is the wife of Jim and would sacrifice anything for him. All she wants is for him to be happy. Della is considered a dynamic character because she undergoes a change that isn't physical, but mental or from within. She changes her thinking about love throughout the story and that it isn't just about sacrifice, but about understanding and affection. She also realizes that she doesn't need to buy Jim an extravagant gift to receive his love, but it's her thought that counts and not a physical gift. She is the main character of the story, and in most stories or books, the main character is dynamic.


Jim is a working class man in a large city. He doesn't make much, but is very passionate about his wife Della. He has some valuable possessions that he treasures dearly.

Jim is considered a static character because Jim doesn't have very many assets. Also Jim isn't elaborated on except when they describe what he looks like and his job. Otherwise, Jim is just present to emphasize that the feeling of love from Della is a powerful force and can cause her to sacrifice things that she appreciates for love. Also, Jim is present in the story to explain the moral of the story and keep the story more interesting. In other words, Jim is a support character.


Irony is a state of affairs or events that seem contrary to what one states or expects. It is often amusing as a result.

Irony: there are some good examples of irony in the gift of the magi. For example, at the end of the story when Jim came home to see Della and they exchanged gifts, their gifts contradicted the the theme of the story which is that love can cause people to sacrifice the things they treasure for the person they love. This shows irony because the fact that their gifts didn't work and where the opposite of each other was ironic to the theme of the story.

Literary Elements

  • Simile

A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as.

“Della’s beautiful hair fell like a cascade of brown water.”

“That made her looks like a truant schoolboy.”

  • Personification

An inanimate object or abstraction is given human qualities or abilities.

"Her heart had simply craved and yearned over them"

"The next two hours tripped by on rosy wings"

  • Imagery

The use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas.

"So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her."

About The Author

William Sidney Porter, more commonly known as O. Henry was born on September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. As a child he was known to be constantly reading whatever he could get a hold off. He graduated high school when he was 17 and became a licensed pharmacist by the age of 19. The next year William moved to Texas because his doctor thought that it would be could for his health as he was developing a serious cough. He moved to Houston and was charged with embezzlement but fled to Honduras. Upon his his return he was jailed for 3 years. In this prison he started to write stories under many pseudonyms, the most famous being O. Henry, which stands for Oliver Henry. He became a very popular author after his release when he started to write a lot of short stories. These stories were known for having plot twist endings. His most famous stories include, The Gift of Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, and The Cop and the Anthem. William began to drink a lot and by 1909 his health was deteriorating. By William died in 1910 because of diabetes and an enlarged heart.