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The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry - Essay

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❶The mottoes of most of our fiction periodicals are told on their covers:

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How can I be sure that your work to final delivery. The following entry presents criticism on O. In its time the tale was extremely popular, both commercially and critically, and O. Henry's best-known collection of stories, The Four Million, which was published in On Christmas Eve, a young married woman named Della has cut and sold her long, beautiful hair to earn the rest of the money she needs for her husband's Christmas present: When her husband, Jim, returns to their apartment, he is shocked to see her hair gone; he has sold his watch to buy her a pair of tortoise-shell combs for her long hair.

Touched by his thoughtfulness, Della assures him that her hair will grow back and she gives him the watch chain. When he sees the gift, he lovingly tells her that he has sold his cherished watch to buy her the combs for her hair. The story concludes with an omniscient narrator praising the sacrifice and love of the young couple.

Critics have noted the irony of the young couple sacrificing their most treasured possessions—Della's hair and Jim's watch—in order to buy each other gifts related to those same possessions.

Poverty is also a prominent theme, as Della saved her money for months to buy the platinum watch chain, but she still had to cut and sell her beautiful hair. The descriptions of the environs and the couple's clothing also underscore the indigence of the characters in the story.

The story is also thought to exemplify the author's interest in the elements of surprise and trick endings, as the impact of the mutual sacrifice is not revealed until the conclusion of the tale. It was frequently mentioned as a prime example of O.

Henry's work and has appeared in several anthologies of American short stories. Yet the story has mostly failed to attract serious critical analysis. Rea, has determined where the plotline for the story originated. Many commentators consider the story more of an anecdote, devoid of complex characters and themes. Despite the lack of considerable critical attention, most literary scholars still consider it one of the best Christmas stories ever written.

Of all recent American short story writers none is more popular than O. At the age of forty, when he gained his public, he had but eight years more to live, but he made those last eight years a triumph of success.

And altho he wrote so rapidly that his powers of production astonished every one, he could scarcely produce stories rapidly enough. The secrets of his great success lay in a wide observation of men, women and books; freedom from all literary conventions; humor and sympathy, and real genius in the story-telling art.

The years before O. Henry became successful were really aids to success, for he was unconsciously gathering material from which to draw lavishly in his last few years of work.

In actual life he was William Sidney Porter: Henry was born in Green[s]boro, North Carolina, in , but he lived as citizen of a wide world, seeing life in Central America and Texas, thru the great West, and in every An Art or a Trade? The mottoes of most of our fiction periodicals are told on their covers: Henry proved that it was possible to take the same age-old material and brighten it up with a coat of sparkling cleverness.

He had but to juggle his incidents in such a way as to make them follow one another in a most spectacular sequence. He had but to play upon the credulity of his reader. Like the stage magician, he said to his audience: The king of the wizards, then, occupies a most honorable position in our textbooks. Stories written in the vein of O.

Henry sell more readily than stories written in the vein of any other master. There is a brightness, a snappiness, a cheerfulness of style about them that draws the artistic sensibilities of editors.

And yet our insistence upon the emulation of O. Henry has not produced many other O. Perhaps it is because O. Henry went to the highways and byways of North and Central America for his plot material which he then juggled to his heart's content, while our students go to O. Henry for their plot material.

Perhaps also it is because O. Henryism was as much a part of William Sidney Porter as was his speaking voice which is buried with him. A very young student once lodged a complaint against her own unruly self. I don't believe I shall ever learn. I am too sad of disposition, I suppose. That was one time I did not smile.

Henry's technique consisted mainly of a series of clever tricks, and tricks can be taught, even though not perhaps his dexterity in performing them. His was truly a gift of the Magi and not really a gift of the gods. Admitting that through his superficial cleverness there occasionally glimmers an uncommon understanding of and a sympathy for the people whose destinies he juggles, the fact remains that his example is that of clever execution rather than artistic conception.

It remains needless, then, for us to point to anything else in his makeup save his successful technique.

We read a dozen of his stories, call attention to their brilliant mannerisms and surprising twists at the end, and exhort our students to go and do likewise. Sometimes we go a little further and discuss the underlying psychology upon which O. Henry based his loops and twists—his belief that our modern reader was so well-nourished on stereotyped fiction as to guess the conclusion of a story by its beginning, and, consequently, O.

Henry led him on to believe that his guess was being borne out until the very end, when a pleasantly startling disappointment was sprung upon him. To substantiate our eulogies of the wizard and to impress upon the would-be writer the importance of studying and emulating O. Henry, we quote copiously from Stephen Leacock, Prof. Alphonso Smith, and numerous other O. We seldom, if ever, quote opinions of critics and editors who are hostile to O.

Henry and his cult. Henry's work, are baleful on all literary students who do not despise them. His is only a small Greenwich Village publication. The checks that writers receive come from editors who do like O. Henry's ways; in fact, prefer O.

Henryesque stories almost to the exclusion of any other type. Hence we examine the work of our students with a feeling of satisfaction. By far the greater number have imbibed our teachings. Thus we know that our work is not in vain; at least some of our students are on the way to success. Again, this is not a plea on behalf of those incompetents who are not O.


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Dec 15,  · [In the following essay, Ward considers O. Henry's impact on the American short story and deems “The Gift of the Magi” the pinnacle of his literary achievement. Many English readers in the present generation received their first introduction to the American language in O. Henry's pages.

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The story "The Gift of the Magi" which is written by O. Henry follows a young married couple who sacrifice their most prized possessions to buy a Christmas gift for one another. Though the story tells the tale of two people, a large portion of the story involves following Della on her quest to find a gift for Jim.

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In the short story ³The Gift of the Magi², by O. Henry, the couple, Mr. and Mrs. Dillingham Young sacrificed their most prized possessions for one another. They did this in order to buy each other nice Christmas presents. ''The Gift of the Magi'' is a short story with a lot of symbolism and meaning. Below are essay prompts that will help students analyze the main themes and other elements of the story. For all essay topics, students should be asked to provide thorough textual evidence to support their response and inferences.

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Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest. Everywhere they are the wisest. They are the magi. ” (Last Paragraph, lines 9 – 11) Theme 2: Sacrifice Sacrifice is an important theme of the story “the Gift of the Magi”. The story revolves around it and it is this theme that appeals the readers the most. The Gift of the Magi: Narritive Essay. Theme and Narrative Elements: The Gift of the Magi ENG Introduction to Literature Theme and Narrative Elements: The Gift of the Magi The Gift of the Magi is a short story that was written by William Sydney Porter, better known by his pseudonym O. Henry in O.