A Comparison of The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and The Sensible Thing by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Henry and F. Scott Fit
Gerald are two modern American authors. Each of authors wrote about a story of love, which he or she knew or lived. O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” is about the poverty-stricken life of a poor young couple and the desire to buy a present for one another; F. Scott’s “A Smart Thing” is also about the story of two people’s love, but in the end they have lost their love. Both of these pieces have similar subjects and each of them presents us, the audience, with various feelings about love and self-sacrifice, joy and sadness.
The main characters in both works are poor. In “the gift of the magi”, Della and Jim live in “the shabby little couch” and “one dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies”, O. Henry describes a little bit of the hardships in which they face here that is the lack of money, Della is too poor to buy a present for her special Jim because “the next day would be Christmas”. In the last sentences of the first paragraph, the author writes “three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents”; once again, Porter repeats “once dollar and eighty-seven cents” shows that Della really is bounded into penniless cycle. For Jim, he has a job, his salary is still not high $30 per week though.
In the same way, Scott’s character is also not much richer than Porter’s. George lives in a shabby room with his property under $100 and he had to give up his dream which is from a construction engineer to become an insurance clerk at forty dollar a week. The author portrays “George O’Kelly was so new to poverty that has any one denied the uniqueness of his case he would have been astounded”.
The first difference is that the difficult situation force them to have dissimilar choices. Love is a choice to do what is best for another person. If you love someone, you will choose to be patient with them or you will choose to treat them well or sacrifice what you have to make your lover happy. This is the choice of Della and Jim in “The Gift of The Magi”, they do not hesitate to sacrifice voluntarily their best valuable thing so that they can have a significant gift for Christmas. Jim and Della are proud of their possessions: “Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts.
Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy”. This shows that the wealth, jewels and gifts of Sheba and Solomon are nothing in comparison with Della’s hair and Jim’s watch. However, they determined to sell those most valuable thing in order to buy a present for each other.
Their action make us feel like they are selling the material to achieve the more valuable thing – love. In contrast, George decided to leave his love behind to seek his fortune and fame. We have to set a question mark here, why does George make up his mind to do such that; because of the so- called “the sensible thing” what Jonquil whom he desires to marry deems “If you’d been ready for me two months ago I’d have married you — now I can’t because it doesn’t seem to be the sensible thing”; this makes George feel agony and declare his return someday. We know that in American society, people respect the social status, so Jonquil’s words accidentally affects George’s self-esteem; moreover, George thinks that he would be accepted by Jonquil if he met her demands.
Another point two works share is that the couples are in a dilemma which forces them to make a choice between love and money. As mentioned above, although they live a poor life, their love still develop and romantic in the first stage. For Della “whenever Mr James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.”(The Gift of The Magi) or in “The Sensible Thing”, Jonquil express her love to George: “George, I love you with all my heart, and I don’t see how I can ever love any one else but you”. Although, their love is such passionate, this love is tested in an ironical case. They have to choose either staying with each other in poverty or leaving for making money. Thus we find out that love which is without testing is hardly close.
the last but not least difference is that in O. Henry’s works, Jim and Della still have romantic and happy love at the end. After shock because of Della’s haircut, Jim just had a gentle gesture “he enfolded his Della”, no upbraiding or angry. In addition, the following quotation illustrate clearly the happiness and thing the couple had achieved: “Eight dollars a week or a million a year – what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought the valuable gifts, but that was not among them.”
There is a saying in the Bible that it is better to give than receive, Jim and Della, they both do this. We can see that in these above sentences that a mathematician or a wit is smart people, they can know the difference between eighty dollars and a million but the Magi is wiser, they brought the valuable gifts and in love, there is no existence of calculation. By contrast, in “The Sensible Thing” George has lost his love with Jonquil, after George’s triumphant return. He is more suitable for Jonquil because they had done “the sensible thing” then ironically, Jonquil does not love him anymore because of distance and time, he never wrote or met her even though once.
Though he has enough condition to marry her, the emotional circumstances were no longer right.” He had traded his first youth for strength and carved success out of despair. But with his youth, life had carried away the freshness of his love”. ” There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice”.