Essay on Caring Love in the Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Published: 2021/12/15
Number of words: 1485

True, love is one of the most pervasive themes in literature. Indeed, the subject of love is addressed in a plethora of literal works (Zala and Joshi, 2017). Love may be good energy that inspires people to make selfless sacrifices for others, or it can be a toxic force that drives people crazy or to commit murder. Perhaps love is the most profound emotion we will ever experience. When it comes to love, whether platonic or passionate, fleeting or eternal, it can create critical connections, shatter our hearts, teach us life-changing lessons, and it may permanently change the path of our lives. Consequently, it’s unsurprising that love is one of the most often discussed subjects in literature. This phenomenon defies classification because of its ubiquity across genres, age groups, and historical periods. As with real life, the presence of love may elevate a story to an emotional and memorable level, regardless of how it ends. Numerous literary works address the topic of love, but only a few stand out, such as O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. By examining this text critically, this paper clarifies that care that stems from love makes people sacrifice a lot to make those they love happy. In the process, they might do things not anyone can understand but their love. Such kindness that breeds from love is strength.

From the beginning, it is evident that the story would be sympathetic; poverty has long been announced at the beginning of the story (Rohan, 2018). Della and Jim’s small apartment has a “shabby little couch,” pier-glass windows, and another “shabby little sofa.” Literary, they lived in a filthy closet dubbed “home.” While being young and impoverished, head over heels in love would be too much to handle. Their love story would be amazing to sail under these turbulent waters. Because they are each other’s only property, poverty pulls them together rather than divides them.

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Jim and Della are more than Henry’s inventions; they are genuine individuals who enter readers’ minds due to their love for one another. Della is the story’s beautiful, caring, selfless, and sometimes hysteric heroine, as well as its primary character. She is a low-income earner who acts as the mistress of the house during the day in a tiny apartment on the second level. In other words, she is a stay-at-home mother. Della’s existence revolves around a single item (or, more accurately, a single person): her husband, Jim, and she spends a significant amount of time contemplating what to get him for Christmas. Meanwhile, Della had been saving every penny she could for months, and on-page five, we discover that $20 a week didn’t go very far in her home. However, costs exceeded her estimates; she intended to offer Jim a $1.87 present as a token of her appreciation for their love. Jim is immediately identifiable as hers due to her usage of her language. He deserved the finest, which is why she was so eager to get him the perfect gift: ” Something fine and rare and sterling – something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim ” (pg 6).

Jim and Della show their love for one another by sharing all they have (Boyarkina, 2021). Della is enraged at the beginning of the story because she lacks the funds necessary to buy a beautiful present for her husband, and she stays angry at the end because she is disturbed by the way she looks in the mirror after having her hair cut off. And, although the author does not take us inside Jim’s mind, we discover at the novel’s end that Jim was also preoccupied with the same issue. Finally, Jim gifts Della with a pair of hair combs for Christmas, which he intended to use on her long hair. Della had sold her most valuable possession, her long hair, for a fob chain for Jim’s watch. Jim, like Della, was ready to part with his most treasured possession, his gold watch, to get combs for Della’s hairdo. The interchange of their love is so vivid that in the end, no one was able to use each other’s present other than the fact that their actions justified the love they had for each other. Della considers the sale of her hair and wonders if Jim will not see her as beautiful; she even says a prayer to this effect-“Please God, make him think I am still pretty” (pg 4). About her hair, Jim said, “I want you to understand me, Dell,” he said. “Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less” (pg 5). This was when Della learned that Jim had bought her the combs.

It has been shown that love may drive people to achieve feats that others deem incomprehensible (Gupta and Gentry, 2018). The critical point to remember is that love brings pleasure to everyone, even when great sacrifices are made. Even though neither Della nor Jim could utilize their renowned gifts, they chose not to linger on the incident and instead sat down to dinner with love and passion for celebrating the event. As a consequence of this event, this essay concludes that love requires sacrifice. This kind of sacrifice inspired a saying implying that love is blind. On the contrary, this essay shows that love is a compassionate feeling, not a blind one. As the narrator observed, ” And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house” (pg 6). These emotions go counter to the narrative’s tone. When Jim and Della’s love for one another is sympathetic, the author demonstrates that their love is compassionate despite the ineffectiveness (unwise) of the gifts (foolish).

Additionally, Henry shows that lovers take pleasure in the happiness of others in their immediate circle (Harry and Ocasio-Stoutenburg, 2020). “…But if you’ll open that, you may know what I felt when I came in” (Henry 5 This paper found this statement made by Jim to characterize him as selfless. After knowing that Della had sold her hair, Jim seemed disturbed. It made Della concerned and worried that he did not see hair in the same way as he used to when she had long hair, “…Don’t you like me now? I’m me, Jim. I’m the same without my hair” (pg 5). Just like Della is more concerned about Jim’s happiness, so is Jim worried about her happiness. Furthermore, both of them are less concerned with their happiness. This indicates sufficiently that true love is not only caring but also selfless and kind.

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“…let it be said that of all who give gifts, these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi” (pg 6). This is the narrator’s final statement. These statements underscore the fact that genuine love is a manifestation of selflessness. Individuals receive by giving. While Jim and Della were unable to use one another’s gifts, they were content that they possessed the lovely experience of love.


Given the extent to which Della and Jim are willing to demonstrate their love for one another, it’s easy to understand how the caring that comes from love drives people to make sacrifices to make others happy. They may do things along the way that no one else understands except for their love for one another. Kindness inspired by love provides strength. According to this perspective, falling in love is seldom a case of wilful ignorance worthy of the label “blind.” While compassion is not an attribute of love, it is a feature of it. Additionally, love is empathetic, and lovers often get engrossed in the lives of their partners. As previously said, love is also the consequence of self-sacrifice and sacrifice. While lovers may do things to one another that others find unfathomable, love is defined as the act of preceding one’s pleasure to please those to whom one is profoundly connected.


Henry, O. (1905) The Gift of the Magi

Zala, K., & Joshi, R. N. (2017). Theme of Love in O’Henry’s Short Stories in Reference to A Service of Love & The Gift of Magi.


Boyarkina, I. (2021). Empathy and Human Feeling in the Short Stories of O. Henry and Anton Chekhov. Connections and Influence in the Russian and American Short Story, 23.

Gupta, A., & Gentry, J. W. (2018). If you love me, surprise me. Gifts, romance, and consumer culture, 65-79.

Harry, B., & Ocasio-Stoutenburg, L. (2020). Meeting families where they are: Building equity through advocacy with diverse schools and communities. Disability, Culture, and Equity.

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