The Gift of the Magi Analysis Example

In our world, people frequently aren’t as thoughtful as they could be. Yet those special few who put the most thought into their gifts, who make decisions to maximize the happiness of others, find that others will reciprocate their thoughtfulness. In the story “Gift of the Magi,” by an unknown author, Della, the protagonist, is thoughtful. She is thoughtful because, when Christmas comes, she spends “many hours” thinking, she gives up her most valuable possession, and she searches every shop in the city, to find a Christmas gift for Jim, her husband. Furthermore, Jim reciprocates for thoughtfulness by giving up his most valuable possession to get a gift for her. Finally, despite the fact that her gift ended up being useless, the story states that she is happy, showing that she understands that it is the thought that counts.

First, Della spends many hours trying to think of a gift for Jim. Most people don’t put that much thought in their gifts. Frequently, we just randomly see an item and think, “Oh, so-and-so might like that,” when we’re now really looking for a gift. But not Della. Della plans to get Jim a gift for the entire year, saving her pennies when she goes shopping. In addition, she is not able to think of a gift “almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim.” This shows that she was very thoughtful in choosing a gift, and wanted the best gift she could give.

In addition, and most importantly, Della gives up her most prized and valuable possession, her hair, to buy Jim a gift. Almost no one, would be willing to do so, because they would have nothing to replace their most prized possession. Some would say Della was foolish to sell her hair. Rather, it really was the best thing she could have done. The fact that she did this shows that she is very selfless and thinks about others first.

Furthermore, Della searches every shop in the city to find a gift, which ends up being the golden chain for Jim’s gold pocket watch. It is noted in the story this took two hours. Nowadays, no one would search for two hours to find one gift, especially considering that Della did not even know what to look for. Della must have been thinking about what Jim liked, gauging his reaction to every item in the stores, to find the perfect gift. When she does find a gift for Jim, a golden chain for his pocket watch, she thinks that the gift “surely had been made for him and no one else,” also noting that the golden chain, like Jim, had “quietness and value.” Thus we can say that she thinks about how to make people happy, that she is thinking about other people when she makes a decision.

Finally, she is happy even when she learns that her gift is useless, that Jim sold his gold pocket watch to buy the bejeweled combs. Anyone would be upset to learn that, and I suppose Della was. But it is implied that she was still glad that Jim appreciated how far she went to get the golden chain, and she appreciated how far Jim went to obtain the combs. This tells us that, not only does she think of others before making decisions, she also appreciates how others think of her before making decisions.

As mentioned earlier, Della is one of those “special few” who are thoughtful to the maximum. True to the law mentioned above, others (in this case, Jim) reciprocate her thoughtfulness. Jim, like Della, sells his most valuable possession, his gold pocket watch, to buy Della the jeweled combs, which of course was a very thoughtful act. This proves the law that good deeds, such as being thoughtful, will eventually be reciprocated.

When people are thoughtful, they find that others reciprocate their thoughtfulness. “Gift of the Magi” is no exception. Della spends many hours thinking, gives up her most prized possession, her beautiful hair, which extended down to her knees, and searches every shop in the city, to find a Christmas gift for Jim, showing that she is thoughtful. In return, Jim gives up his most prized possession, his gold watch, which had been passed down to him by his grandfather, to buy the jeweled combs for Della’s hair. And, despite the fact that Jim’s gift was useless, she was thoughtful in appreciating how far he went to get the combs. At first read, it seems that the main lesson in “Gift of the Magi” is that it’s the thought that counts. However, the larger lesson is that good deeds, such as being thoughtful, will be reciprocated by others.


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