The Gift of the Magi by O Henry: An Analysis According to Longinus Sublimity


To be honest, I don’t understand the sublimity very well, because I was absent on the day you discussed it initially. And that is not a joke and this is a disclaimer, I won’t deny it even though I know you don’t appreciate disclaimers. But as far as my prelim grade is concerned, I still made this, sir.

The Gift of the Magi is a story about a married couple, Jim and Della which are having the greatest problem all of us encounter on the Christmas season- what gift to give. It started with the sentence ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS, which eventually gives us the problem, which obviously is financially. Della has no enough money to buy Jim a gift and vice versa and the only precious thing they have is Della’s knee-length hair and Jim’s watch. So she looked at her hair laid down for the last time in the mirror before she sells it for 20 dollars which makes her money $21.87 so she was able to buy the silver wrist for Jim’s watch which costs her $21. She now goes home with a short hair but a gift in her hand and a smile on her face. She waited patiently at home for Jim to arrive and when he comes, his face was of an unlikely expression when he sees her now short hair. And this reaction was justified upon opening the gift he got for her. It was a set of combs she wanted badly, but now she has no hair for them. And when she gives Jim her gift, he just sat on the couch because he sold his watch for the combs. And O. Henry being the person that he is, he ended it in a quirky way. They sighed and Jim decided to just have dinner and keep he gifts they got for each other. And as the narrator concludes it that they are the real Magi, which is the Magi there is in the Bible (Three Wise kings) everyone is left smiling and satisfied in the end.

First rule of sublimity is Grandeur of Thought which is established on the story itself, from the structure to its meaning. The story introduced us the problem and the situation on the very start, like literally. And it had us going to the end wondering what fools the characters have been for losing the chance to use the gifts they received for the sake of giving gifts, but leaving us the comparison of these characters to wise men in the Bible, for they were wise enough to sacrifice the things that are precious to them just to have something for the most precious possession they have- each other.

Second rule is Capacity for Strong Emotion. What greater emotion there is than love that you can show and speak of? The whole story is an actual manifestation of how love makes us sacrifice and how love is not for us but for the person we love. It is shown how they loved each other, when she lost her hair and he lost his watch and when she did that to give him a wrist for his watch and when he did that to buy her combs. It was never about her or him alone, it was for both of them.


Source by Kim Matias