The Gift of the Magi - Irony

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Storyboard Description

The author, O. Henry, of the short story "The Gift of the Magi," uses irony to create an unexpected ending result. An example of this irony is when Della cuts off her hair to buy Jim a gift. This example can be supported by Della's dialogue with Jim, "I had my hair cut off and sold..." This example portrays irony because later on we find out that Jim's gift to Della is combs, that she no longer has much use for. Another example of irony would be when Jim sold his watch to buy Della a gift. This example can be supported by Jim's conversation with Della, "I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs." This example portrays irony because Jim's gift from Della is a watch chain, and Jim doesn't own his watch anymore. It becomes clear to them that it doesn't matter about the gifts they get for each other, but the fact that they have each other. In this case, Jim and Della each sacrifice their most treasured possessions so the other can fully enjoy their gift; Jim sells his watch to buy Della's combs, expecting her to be able to use them, and Della sells her hair to buy Jim's watch-chain. Neither expects the other to have made that sacrifice. The irony here works on a practical level and on a deeper, more sentimental level. Both Della and Jim buy each other a gift that seems foolish. However, what they get is something they don't expect, a more intangible gift in the reminder of how much they love each other and are willing to sacrifice to make each other happy. This irony leads up to and supports the theme of, "you must be willing to sacrifice for the ones you love."

Storyboard Text

  • Della is counting her money and realizes she doesn't have enough.
  • Symbolism/Irony
  • I don't have enough money to get Jim a good gift.
  • I buy hair.
  • Della goes to a hair shop to sell her hair so she can buy Jim a good gift. The shopkeeper will give her twenty dollars for her hair.
  • Will you buy my hair?
  • I sold my watch to buy your combs.
  • In this part of the story it is revealed that the characters don't have much use for the gifts the got each other. Each gift relates to the items they gave away.
  • I sold my hair to buy your watch chain.
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