The Gift of Magi: A Synopsis

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The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi is a short Christmas story written by William Sydney Porter, otherwise known by his pin name O. Henry. The Gift of the Magi is a story about a young twenty-something couple who struggle to purchase each other gifts for Christmas with hardly any money. This story interested me the most because I can relate to this poor couple’s situation because I have been there myself during the holidays. I felt a deep connection with the main character’s and I could feel there experiences. It was as if I where in the story itself. As stated in our course text, “When you read a piece of literature imaginatively and with mental vigor, you are stepping inside it, projecting your perspective across its landscape” (Clugston, 2010). By using a formalist approach to evaluate, A Gift of the Magi, I will clearly show what lesson the characters learned at the end of this story.

The formalist approach to literature is described by Clugston in our text as “most widely used” this is because “it focuses on the form and development of the literary work itself” (Clugston, 2010). This approach uses 6 basic questions to back down the story. These questions are: What makes the setting so memorable? Why was the plot intriguing? How were the characters described, contrasted, and developed? Was figurative language used to create a mood, to reveal theme? What point of view was used? And last but not least, in what ways do literary conventions and forms contribute to its appeal?

What makes the setting so memorable to me is because, as I have already explained, I have been in this situation before. I know the pain you feel at the thought letting down the ones you love. I know the feeling of knowing that you have done your best to only fall short. As in the story, I too felt Della’s sentiments which were described as helplessness.

Why was the plot intriguing? Well, I personally think the question should be did you find the plot intriguing? So,...
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