What are some of the themes in "The Gift of Magi?"

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another theme in the short story "Gift of the Magi" is that of secrecy, particularly in giving. Part of Jim and Della's reasoning in keeping the gifts secret is of course the element of surprise. Both are looking forward to the excitement of the element of surprise when their loved one finally opens the much-saved for present. The humorous irony of secrecy in marriage and relationships is borne out by the fact that the combs are now redundant, because Della has sacrificed her long hair, which makes Jim a little sad. This is a poignant moment, but at least everyone in the story ,and the readers, can be comforted by the fact that hair grows back - and both will have learned a little about keeping secrets in marriage!

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To me, the major theme of this story is that of love.  The story explores what love is through the actions of Jim and Delia.

In the story, Jim and Delia are very generous to one another.  They are each willing to give up their most treasured possessions in order to give the other a present.  This is a tremendously loving thing to do for another person.  The author is saying that even if a gift ends up not being useful, the thought behind it can show great love.

So the main theme is love and how a person may show love to another.

Enotes' summary also says that wealth and poverty is a theme.  It points out that the couple is poor in material goods but is rich because of their love.

subrataray | Student

Magi ,-the three wise wise men of the East , offered valuable gifts to Jesus the infant .Their gifts symbolize divine-love .

In the story , Jim and Delia amidst their material -poverty uplifted them to the zenith spiritual-wealth .They sacrificed the least worldly possession they had to offer one another without the knowledge of the other .

Thus from the plot of the story , two themes come up ,- sacrifice and love .The two again are beyond meterial consumption . 

mkcapen1 | Student

The themes in "The Gift of the Magi" include the main theme of sacrifice.  Both the man and his wife were willing to give-up that which was most important to them in order to be able to buy a gift for the other one that the person would value.

The second theme is irony. While one person had given up her hair to buy her husband a watch bob. He had given up his watch to buy her combs for her hair. The reader does not identify the theme of irony until the end of the story when the gifts are revealed. Even the husband laughs at the situation.