- The Gift of the Magi
Infobox short story |
name = The Gift of the Magi
country = USA
language = English
pub_date = 1906
followed_by = "The Gift of the Magi" is a
short storywritten by O. Henry(a pen name for William Sydney Porter), allegedly at Pete's Tavern[http://www.frommers.com/destinations/newyorkcity/N24455.html] [ [http://www.literarytraveler.com/literary_articles/william_sydney_porter_ohenry.aspx O'Henry and The Gift of the Magi LiteraryTraveler.com ] ] on Irving Place in New York City.
Jim and Della Dellingham are a young couple who are very much in love with each other, but can barely afford their one-room apartment opposite the elevated train due to their very bad economic condition. For
Christmas, Della decides to buy Jim a chain for his prized pocket watch given to him by his father. To raise the funds, she has her prized long hair cut off and sold to make a wig. Meanwhile, Jim decides to sell his watch to buy Della a beautiful set of combs for her lovely, knee-length hair. Although each is disappointed to find the gift they chose rendered useless, each is pleased with the gift they received, because it represents the other's love for them.
The moral of the story is that physical possessions, however valuable they may be, are of little value in the grand scheme of things. The true unselfish love that the characters, Jim and Della, share is greater than their possessions.
O. Henryends the story by clarifying the metaphorbetween the characters in the story, Della and James (or Jim), and the Biblical Magi.
"The Gift of the Magi" features
O. Henry's characteristic twist endingand use of grandiloquent language.
Popular culture and adaptations
"The Gift of the Magi" is widely referenced in popular culture ranging from the final segment of the motion picture "
O. Henry's Full House", which featured an adaptation of the short story, to numerous references in popular television shows such as " The Simpsons" [cite episode | series= The Simpsons| title= Grift of the Magi| season=11] , and by Dr. Clayton Forresterand TV's Frankin both Christmas specials of " Mystery Science Theater 3000" [cite episode | series= Mystery Science Theater 3000| title=Santa Claus Conquers the Martians] [cite episode | series= Mystery Science Theater 3000| title=Santa Claus] . Even in music, the story has been adapted by the musical group, Squirrel Nut Zippersin a song by the same name. A musical production of the story, starring Gordon MacRaeand Sally Ann Howesas the young couple, was presented on the Hallmark Hall of Fameon December 9, 1958 by NBC. An opera was written by David Contein one act using the story as is. In the Futuramaepisode "X-Mas Story", there is a gift-giving scene wherein Amy sells her hair to get combs for Hermes, who sold his hair to get combs for Dr. Zoidberg, which makes no sense since Dr. Zoidberg has no hair -- until it is revealed that he is now wearing both Amy's and Hermes' hair.
A Mickey Mouse short film, "Mickey and Minnie's Gift of the Magi," (which is a short film in part of the film "
Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas"), is also used as an adaptation of this story, where Mickey trades his harmonica to buy a gold chain for Minnie's watch, and Minnie trades her locket to buy a case for Mickey's harmonica.
The 1978 "
Sesame Street" special " Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" also adapts the story, with Ernietrading his Rubber Duckiefor a cigar box for Bert's paper clip collection, and Bert trading his paper clips for a soap dish for Ernie's Rubber Duckie. This sketch ends more happily than its source material: after Bert and Ernie exchange gifts, Mr. Hooper comes to the apartment and gives back both the Duckie and the paper clips. Bert laments that they hadn't thought to get a present for Mr. Hooper, but Mr. Hooper tells Bert he is mistaken: "I got to see that everyone got exactly what they wanted for Christmas."
The 2004 Hindi film "Raincoat" starring
Ajay Devganand Aishwarya Raiand directed by Rituparno Ghoshis an adaptation of this story.
The first Christmas-themed episode of the radio drama "
Adventures in Odyssey", originally broadcast December 19, 1987, was a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the story called "Gifts for Madge and Guy," with Jim and Della's names changed to Guy and Madge respectively. The names Madge and Guy are a play on the word "Magi."
There was also another made-for-tv movie, a 1978 adaptation titled "The Gift of Love", starring
Marie Osmondas Della's character renamed Beth Atherton.
The Venezuelan sketch show
Bienvenidosdid a straight, serious adaptation of the story for a Christmas special.
There was also an episode of
Catdogin which the story was changed to birthday gifts and a bit different (being that Cat sold his Loompha for a wrestling suit for Dog, and Dog sold his wrestling mud pit for a Loompha carrier, "then" trade the Loompha carrier in for a wrestling suit, much to Cat's disappointment)
There is also an episode of the
Rugratsin which Phil and Lil both traded their Christmas gifts to get presents that appeased each other.
Jim Henson Companyholiday special " Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" is partially based off of this story.
One of the short-short stories in
Steve Martin's " Cruel Shoes", "The Gift of the Magi Indian Giver," involved the husband selling his shinbones to buy his wife "cuticle frames," while she sold her cuticles to buy him "shinbone polish." The ending implied that the couple enjoyed a bit of light BDSM.
* [http://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/Gift_of_the_Magi.html The Gift of the Magi] by O. Henry
* [http://www.transpacificradio.com/2006/12/21/xmas3-deorio/ Reading of "The Gift of the Magi" with text and notes] (Streaming or downloadable mp3)
* Audio book recording with accompanying text of [http://content.loudlit.org/audio/magi/pages/01_01_magi.htm The Gift of the Magi]
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