Symbolism of Love in The Gift of the Magi and Materialism in The Necklace

In this materialistic society, everyone wants a better life even someone who is in one of the more superior classes or they are rich of assets. This aspect is happening exactly the same from “The Necklace’. ‘When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen’. According to this quote, it describes she has plenty of food, but according to the next text she wants ‘delicate meals, gleaming silver’ and more luxurious things, and her wish seems to made her greedy. However, Madamn Forestier was different.

She let Mathilde to take the necklace which was found to be an imitation necklace, but it still worth 500 frances which is 100 frances more expensive than Madamn Loisel’s ball dress, this Madame Forestier’s action is described as the generosity from this story. The Necklace is the central symbol of this story and it represents her greed and her artificiality. ‘She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only thing she loved; she felt that she was made for them.’ She loved all those luxurious things, and judged herself by the thing she has. Although she loved them, she did not have any good dress or jewels as she said, so when she could barely buy a ball dress, the necklace became the symbolization of her greed.

Also when she had that artificial necklace, everyone was fooled as if it was real. This statement can be rewrote as even Madame Loisel looked like an upper-class lady in her ball gown and jewels, it doesn’t mean that she is one of them, she will have to come back to her normal life after the ball. This idea is also related with the idea of materialistic society of 2011. When these people who are eager to be at one of the more superior lasses but can’t, they tends to pretend to be like them, and this action can be described as wearing Madamn Forestier’s imitation necklace. When there is wealthy part of society, there must be a poor part of society too. ‘The Gift of Magi’ is the story representing the poor part of the society, and the ‘love and generosity’ of poor family.

From this story, a poor loving young husband and wife sell their valuable thing they own to give each other special Christmas gifts. Delia sells her beautiful long hair to buy Jim a watch chain, and Jim sells his watch to buy Delia some beautiful combs. Those gifts turn to be useless when they have shown to each other, but the narrator of the story says ‘O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.’ This tells that Youngs possess a gift greater than anything else, the gift of love and the generosity between the two people. Allusion is one of the important styles to describe the theme of this story. When O.Henry described Delia’s hair and Jim’s watch by using the narrator, he alluded to the bible.

‘Had the Queen of Sheba lived in this 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.’ By using allusion, O. Henry made the story funny, let all the readers know how special those items were, and at the end another allusion is used when Della and Jim are compared to the Magi and relate their love and generosity between each other. Between those two short stories, the ‘generosity’ was the common theme used in both of them.

However, the other idea that they have used changed each other’s meaning of generosity. In ‘The Necklace’, the generosity was to help someone who wants or need something. On the other hand, “The Gift of the Magi’, its generosity meant by voluntarily doing it and sacrificing their own treasure to give someone a special thing. In conclusion, the ‘greed and generosity’ is the important idea of the short story “The Necklace’ and ‘love and generosity’ for ‘The Gift of the Magi’. Those ideas are worth learning about because the greed and generosity symbolizes our materialistic society and by using the theme of love and generosity I learnt about the part of the society and the importance of love and giving presents.

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