The Gift Of The Magi

1022 Words Nov 16th, 2016 5 Pages
In discussing Marxist literary criticism Peter Barry states, “So instead of seeing authors as primarily autonomous ‘inspired’ individuals whose ‘genius’ and creative imagination enables them to bring forth original and time-less works of art, the Marxist sees them as constantly formed by their social contexts in ways which they themselves would usually not admit” (Barry 152). His claim is certainly evident through a careful analysis of O’Henry’s short story. The Gift of the Magi appears to be a bittersweet story about a couple that would truly give up their most prized possessions to convey their love to one another at Christmas. However, a Marxist approach to the tale reveals the complexities of a capitalist society and the materialism surrounding the Judeo-Christian holiday of Christmas. Through the characterization of the married couple, Della and Jim, as well as the overall theme of love, a Marxist literary analysis exposes the superstructure of gift giving and the materialistic aspects of love and Christmas tradition.
Marxist criticism unveils the effects of capitalism on Christmas traditions through the characterization of Della and Jim. From the story’s introduction, Della is characterized as a poor wife in a tearful frenzy to buy her husband the perfect gift for Christmas: “Only $ 1.87 to buy a gift for Jim. Her Jim. She had had many happy hours planning something nice for him. Something nearly good enough. Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim”…

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