Now I have come up to the most interesting part of my analysis of the story – defining the theme and the idea of the story “The Gift of the Magi”.
I would present the theme of the story in such-like formula:
I think that these 4 pictures represent the theme of the story wholly. The themes are:
- Love knows no bounds.
- Sacrifice as proof of wisdom.
- Wealth is not a material thing, but love that is spiritual.
- Femininity is great power.
In the story there is situational irony:
“I could not have lived through Christmas without giving you a present”.
“Being wise, their gifts no doubt wise ones… two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other”.
It helps us to draw a parallel between Magi and ordinary Jim and Della – two foolish children.
Simile is used to describe Della’s greatest possession her hair: “Della’s beautiful hair fell like a cascade of brown water”. Her hair is a wavy as it is like a cascade, its colour is like brown water.
Comparison is noticed: “That made her looks like a truant schoolboy.” After having had her hair cut Della can be compared in her appearance to a truant schoolboy: wandering and straying. Short hair gave her the look of a boy, not of a woman, her look was deprived of femininity.
Della is full of emotions which are described with the help of metaphor: “There was clearly nothing to do but flop down and… howl. So Della did it”. Della had nothing to do but howl – dolefully like a wolf.
A repetition of adjectives “grey”: “…looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard” helps to create the atmosphere of sadness. It is also an incomplete sentence because the conjunction “at” in “walking a grey fence” is omitted. Another example of repetition of the conjunction “nor” to describe Jim’s shock when he saw Della: “It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for”. Here is also anticlimax (nouns “anger – surprise – disapproval – horror) to describe Della’s relief from Jim’s reaction. Della’s overflow of emotions is can be noticed with the usage of oxymoron: she said that her hair grows “awfully fast”.
An example of anaphora which is used to emphasize the repeated unit: “On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat”. It used to show that Della was categoric and she knew and was sure in what she was doing.
The metaphor: “tripped by on rosy wings” describes the mood of Della. She was happy, she was ready to seek for a present for Jim.
Antithesis is used to describe opposing feelings: “And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! A quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails”.
The case of periphrasis in naming Jim “lord of the flat” stress that it was he who was who was the breadwinner in the family; “employment of all the comforting powers” is the periphrasis which means that Della needed Jim to hug her and comfort, to calm her down.
These are the main stylistic devices which I noticed after thorough scanning of the story.