Homework Help

What is the irony in "The Gift of the Magi"?

user profile pic

cait41 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 28, 2007 at 1:30 AM via web

dislike 7 like

What is the irony in "The Gift of the Magi"?

11 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted July 7, 2014 at 12:37 AM (Answer #12)

dislike 1 like

They both sacrificed something to buy a present for their lover but in the end the things they got for each other had no use because those were the things they sold

user profile pic

atyourservice | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:03 PM (Answer #13)

dislike 1 like

Della sacrifices her hair to buy a chain for Jim's watch but because while Jim sold his watch to buy a comb for Della's hair he wasn't able to use the chain, and she wasn't able to use the comb because she cut her hair.

user profile pic

getcypromothini | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted August 2, 2011 at 12:28 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

wat are th 3 types?

1 Reply | Hide Replies

user profile pic

atyourservice | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted August 15, 2014 at 6:04 PM (Reply #1)

dislike 1 like

The three types of irony are verbal irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony. 

user profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 28, 2007 at 2:07 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

The self-sacrifice of Jim and Delia is a genuine irony often found in the deepest human relationships. Sacrificing their most precious possessions is a reward of its own because by depriving themselves, they enrich the life of the other person. Irony is also seen because the gifts the couple gives to each other are useless. Delia can't wear her combs in her short hair, and Jim can't use his watch chain without his watch. The young couple learns that the greatest gift of all is their self-sacrificing love.

Sources:

user profile pic

brendawm | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted October 28, 2007 at 8:14 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

The irony of "The Gift of the Magi" is simple and has been used in many stories since its time, but it is  that of sacrificing something that means the most to you for someone that you love in order to provide them with something that you know that they would love.

In this case, Della sacrifices her hair to buy a chain for Jim's watch; while Jim, in turn, sacrifices his watch to buy combs for Della's hair.

user profile pic

xannielovex | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2010 at 5:14 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

this may not be an answer but i do believe when asking about irony you should ask the type of irony because there are 3 types of irony

user profile pic

sonjarenee10 | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted September 18, 2011 at 10:21 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

There are 3 types of irony - verbal, dramatic, and situational.  This story is a good example of situtional irony because neither the characters nor the reader knows what will happen next in the story.  We are all caught off guard until the end.  In this type of irony, you also have the make-up of the surprise ending.  I hope this helps!!  :-)

user profile pic

umangmind | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

The main, general theme of this story by O'Henry is that giving is the greatest gift of all.  Della gives up her most cherished possession, her beautiful hair, to get a gift for her husband, Jim. She buys him a fob for his favorite possession--a pocket watch. Jim sells his pocket watch to buy beautiful combs for Della to adorn her hair.  Both gave up their most valued possession in order to give something to the one they loved.  The story is classic O'Henry with well developed characters, a city setting for the impoverished pair of young marrieds, and an ironic twist to the end of the story.

user profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 4, 2012 at 1:54 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Irony is a literary device that occurs when the author uses elements of the story, like plot or character development, setting, or action to show contrast or the opposite of what the characters or the author may be feeling. 

Here's an example--  In "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner," there is a line that says "Water, water every where, not any drop to drink."  This is an example of irony, because the ship is in the middle of the ocean.  Yes, the crew is surrounded by water, but they can not drink any of it.  Ah, the irony!

user profile pic

zubiiii | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted June 4, 2012 at 12:32 PM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

Irony is actually the contradiction between what is happening and what the reader think is happening....it is obvious throughout the story...the story revolves around Della who sells her hair for the sake of buying the gift for her husband....On the other hand, her husband jim is doing the same thing, although we are not told about it in the beginning....so as to produce irony in the story....so the ending is unexpectedly a surprising one.....and also enjoyable for the readers.

user profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted April 30, 2014 at 3:35 AM (Answer #11)

dislike -1 like

Delia works her life off to repay the necklace her friend gave her that one night which she lost, but in reality that necklace was a fake and she wasted her entire life while her friend enjoyed it

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes