An Analysis of the Themes and Symbolism in The Gift of the Magi
The Gift of the Magi has many themes that touch the heart. The writer expresses those themes in many different ways. The two biggest ways the writer expresses the most significant themes are through the location and the characters. The symbolism also plays a large role in this story. Finally, irony ties it all together.
For instance, Jim and Della live in a flat with just enough money to get by. The setting leads to the theme of sacrifice for love. You can tell that Jim and Dellas love is unconditional by what they each sacrifice and sell for each other: their most prized possessions. Without the setting one would never know why they needed to sell their most prized possessions.
The theme is expressed through the characters more than anything. Of course, there would be no story without the characters but even more so than that Jim and Della set the atmosphere. For example, when Jim walks in on Della to find that she has no hair after he has bought her combs, he is not infuriated, just astonished. There could not be a better emotion to feel in that position. The same happens when Della sees Jim no longer has the watch making her gift just as useless. If the characters had become angry, their love would not be displayed as strong. Yet, they are very much in love and play a part in expressing the theme.
Again, symbolism gives this story a much deeper plot. The two most treasured possessions are Dellas hair and Jims pocket watch. Of course, the two could live without these possessions and they ultimately do. The possessions each symbolize something to each one of the characters. Jims watch has sentimental value because it has been passed on for generations. Dellas hair is not only beautiful but also rare and hard to achieve. Therefore, when the two lose those possessions for love it is so dramatically ironic.
Significantly, the setting and characters interact to express that love can be displayed in many ways and that any material item does not affect love. In this day and age this extremely important theme is seen less and less. The author also expresses the art of giving and even gives these wise givers -such as Jim and Della -a name. These very rare and special people are called The Magi.