An Analysis of the Theme of Love in The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry and The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant
Jim and Della were a young married couple, like Mr. and Mme. Loisel, who were immature and foolish. They both lived in run down, shabby flats in big cities. The apartments were dark and dreary, which symbolized something bad might happen. These were both times of depression where there was very little money around, so there were many other couples like them. In the beginning, Della is counting her money and crying, which shows she was very poor. Mrs. Loisel often cried a lot, like Della. She cried about not having enough money and about the invitation her husband got for her. Both husbands had similar jobs, both which did not pay a lot. Jim was in love with his wife, and would do anything for her, as would Mr. Loisel.
Both couples were very thrifty when it came to money. Since they were poor, they were good at saving their money for items they needed, like groceries, and for special purposes. Both of these stories had themes, though the themes are very different from each other. Jim and Della taught us that it was better to give than to receive because even though the gifts were worthless, they still knew how much each gift meant; how much love was put into it, so love conquers all. With the Loisels, they showed us that honesty is the best policy. If they would have been honest and told Mme. Forestier they lost the necklace they probably would have just had to replace the necklace with a lot less money than what they had replaced it with.
In these stories, the main conflict is internal conflict (a.k.a.
Man vs. Himself). In these times of depression, only the strong at heart
could survive. In The Gift of the Magi Jim and Della had internal
conflicts when they were very low on money, and did not have enough to buy Christmas presents for each other. They overcame their problem by selling their most prized possessions to get enough money for the presents.
In The Necklace Mr. and Mrs. Loisel’s conflict was not that they wanted to buy something, but they had to. They had to replace a necklace they had lost with ten long years of anguish, sometimes not having enough money to buy groceries. Another analogy is that their endings are both very ironic. Jim and Della sold their most prized possessions to buy Christmas presents for each other. The ironic part was that their presents were for their most prized possessions, so the presents were useless. With the Loisels, they found out that the thirty-six thousand-Franc necklace was only worth about five hundred Francs, so the pain and anguish was for nothing. There were symbols in each of the stories, which represented something larger than itself.
The presents Jim and Della bought for each other symbolized love and sacrifice because they gave up their favorite thing for each other. In The Necklace, the necklace symbolized riches and wealth in the beginning because of the party Mrs. Loisel used it for. It was a higher social status than what she belonged to, but the necklace made her look like she belonged. At the end, it symbolized poverty and a wasted life because they spent all those years paying the debt of a stupid
Unlike Della who loved and cared for Jim, Mme. Loisel was greedy, dishonest, and did not love her husband. She was a huge whiner who was always looking for attention, and often used people. Mr. Loisel was very different from his wife because he loved her very much, and gave her everything he could. They both had to make a big decision. Since Jim and Della were unselfish and gave their possessions away, they became much happier and more in love.
On the other hand, the Loisels chose to be
dishonest, and try not to get caught without the necklace. As a result it
caused them ten years of tribulation, and most likely tore them further apart. The diamond necklace Mme. Loisel borrowed was a symbol of many things at different times. In the beginning of the story, at the party,
she wore the necklace. It symbolized fame, riches, and wealth. Close to
the end of the story it symbolized poor decision making, greed, and failed dreams. When Mme. Loisel saw Mme.
Forestier after she had finally paid off the necklace, it showed how a better decision could have saved her all those years of grief. Both stories had very different themes. In The Gift of the Magi it dealt with love, giving, and sacrifice; a lesson well-taught. When they gave each other the presents, they both started laughing because they knew what each other had gone through to get the presents. Then in The Necklace the theme dealt with greed and selfishness. Again, if Mme. Loisel just would have told the truth, she would have lived an all-around better life.
Both stories showed you how two couples of similar lifestyles can still be totally different. The authors had great ways of showing how love conquers all and honesty is the best policy. Although the stories had totally different plots, they both showed that if you are loving and honest, you will live a better and happier life.