The gift of the magi irony essay

Irony the Gift of the Magi Research Assignment (Essay Sample)

This itself ties into the theme of his story. These gifts all entail the act …show more content…. This leads to her idea of selling her most prized possession: her hair, to get Jim his present. Meanwhile, Jim decides to sell his most prized possession which was a pocket-watch that was passed down from his grandfather to his father and then to him.

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He sells that watch and buys Della a set of beautiful tortoise shell combs for her hair. Thus leading to the use of situational irony in which they both receive gifts for something they gave up in order to give the other a gift.

Jim and Della perform an act of selfless love by their willingness to give something that held great value to them in order to get special presents for each other on Christmas. They do all of this out of love for the other. However, you will see that these gives prove to end up having no use in the end but that is not the main point.

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The main point is that although this ironic situation occurs, they both find joy in the thought that they would do this for each other. The result is the exact opposite of what Jim and Della intended.

More about The Gift of the Magi Argument Paper

What makes this ending so bittersweet is that it only comes about because they acted on their intentions: their gifts wouldn't have been useless if they hadn't given up their prize possessions. And since we follow only Della in the story, we don't know what has happened until the very end, during the exchange itself.

Irony and Allusion in The Gift of the Magi

It's the sudden, unexpected irony, which only strikes at the very end that makes the ending a twist. Now that we've talked about what makes the ending a twist, let's ask another question: how do we feel about the ending? From one perspective, it's disastrous.

What Irony Is Used in "The Gift of the Magi"? | Pen and the Pad

Jim and Della seem much better off before the gift exchange. At the end, they have exchanged their most prized possessions to buy each other gifts that are now useless.


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Their original possessions — the watch and the hair — were valuable on their own. Not only that, their original possessions seem more precious because they were theirs — Jim's watch was a family heirloom passed down from his granddad, and Della's hair was literally a part of Della. Their gifts, on the other hand, are just new store-bought things that have no special connection to either person.

Since each person wanted to buy the other the perfect gift, this means they have both failed colossally. But then there's the narrator's perspective in that last paragraph, according to which the gifts they've given each other are the "wisest" gifts of all, the "gifts of the magi.

The Gift of the Magi - Study Guide

Both Jim and Della have shown that they're willing to sacrifice the most valuable thing they have to give something to the other. That makes their "useless" gifts incredibly valuable after all: the selfless love each feels for the other is embodied in those gifts.

Language & Lit

As long as they have the gifts, they'll be able to remember it. That kind of thing can't be bought. And it makes the gifts even more special and personal than what they replaced. Which leads us to another point. Before the exchange, Jim and Della each had one prize possession. Each possession was valuable on its own and belonged to each person individually.

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