Please give a full character review of Della of "The Gift of the Magi" by O. can be in a page or two

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Authors develop and reveal character in a number of ways:


  1. through a physical description of the character
  2. through the character's actions
  3. through the character's thoughts, feelings, and speeches,
  4. through the comments and reactions of other characters


  1. through direct statements giving the writer's opinion of the character

Certainly, then, O. Henry employs all the methods of characterization in developing the personage of Della.  She is described as sensitive as she cries, loving as she plans what she will buy for a Christmas present to give her husband, somewhat impulsive as she "whirled from that window and stood before the glass."  She "rapidly" pulls down her hair of which she is so proud.  At Madame Sofronie's she tells the woman to quickly give her the money for her hair and cut it, lest she change her mind.  On the way home, O. Henry writes of her:

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason.  She got out her curling irons...and went to work repairing the raves made by generosity added to love.

Afterwards, in her thoughts, Della worries that Jim will be angry: "If he doesn't kill me...."  When Jim arrives, Della "wriggled off the table and went to him" as he oddly stares at her, calling him "Jim, darling."  She dearly loves her husband, and does not want him to be upset.  Then, when Jim gives her the beautiful combs for her lost hair, she utters an "estatic scream of joy" followed by "hysterical tears and wails."  Obviously, she is emotionally charged.  But, she is not selfish; for, she hugs them to her bosom and tells her husband, "My hair grows so fast, Jim!" rather than saying that she has cut her hair for him or because he does not make enough money for her to be able to buy a present.  Quickly, she thinks of Jim and gives him his present.

At the end of the story, O. Henry intrudes as the narrator and uses direct characterization as he tells the reader that Della and Jim are "two foolish children" who are wise:

Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.  Everywhere they are wisest.  They are the Magi.

Clearly, Della provides the reader with the example of what a dear, loving wife is.