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Essay About O’Henry

April 9th, 2010 No comments

Authors of short stories use elements of style to make their stories interesting. There are many elements of style used by authors. Irony and theme are often used in short stories. This is clearly shown in O. Henry’s short stories such as: “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Lickpenny Lover,” “The Midsummer Knights Dream,” “The Cop and the Anthem,” and “Ships.” The short stories of O. Henry use the element of theme to bring about ironic endings.

In “The Gift of the Magi” there are elements of theme throughout the entire story. One example of theme in the story is that poverty affected both the main characters Jim and Della. Jim and Della both lived in a poor neighborhood with very little money. They both wanted to get each other a very meaningful Christmas present. Another element of theme in this story is that Jim and Della realize how much they love each other. Eugene Garcia fines that “In this trite little tale of mutual self-sacrifice between husband and wife, O. Henry crystallized dramatically what the world in all it’s stored up wisdom knows to be of fundamental value in ordinary family life”(short story criticisms 192). The theme of this story should always be kept in mine that love is more important then money.

Another example of an element of style is irony. Each person selling something valuable to them shows irony in “The Gift of the Magi”. Della had only saved up one dollar and eighty-seven cents to get Jim a Christmas present. Since she did not have enough money she went to a store and sold her hair. Jim at the same time went to a store to sell his watch for money for Della. They both got each other gifts with the money they had gotten from selling their items. The gifts that they sold each had something to do with what they had gotten each other. Della had gotten Jim a medallion for his watch, while Jim had gotten Della beautiful combs for her hair. Arthur Voss finds that it is ironic in “O. Henry’s famous story of the young married couple, each of whom sells a treasured possession to obtain money to buy a Christmas present for the other” (short story criticisms 114). The ironic conclusion of the story is that both Della and Jim were unable to use the gifts they had gotten each other.

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