The Gift of the Magi Literary Devices

Updated: 11/16/2018
The Gift of the Magi Literary Devices
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Gift of the Magi Lesson Plans

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray and Bridget Baudinet

"The Gift of the Magi" is a touching Christmas tale about how far a husband and wife will go for one another, despite their poverty. To show their true love and devotion to one another, right before Christmas, Della and her husband Jim set out separately to purchase Christmas presents. Having less than three dollars in each of their pockets, they each make a great sacrifice in order to purchase the perfect gift for one another. Della sells her beautiful hair for $20 in order to buy her husband a platinum chain for his watch. Meanwhile, Jim sells his heirloom watch to buy a beautiful set of combs for Della to put in her hair.

The Gift of the Magi

Storyboard Description

The Gift of the Magi Literary Devices

Storyboard Text

  • For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction.
  • The expensive gifts Della and Jim buy are symbolic of their love. The items themselves have very little meaning - in fact, the couple puts them away. The selfless sacrifice that they represent makes them precious.
  • The end of the story is an example of situational irony. Each character is faced with a circumstance that is the opposite of what they expected. This irony adds a trademark O. Henry's twist to the end of the story.
  • The narrator intrudes upon the story multiple times. When he draws attention away from the characters and speaks directly to the readers, he is making his presence obvious to the reader, breaking the fourth wall.