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Allusion in The Gift of the Magi

Allusion Examples in The Gift of the Magi:

The Gift of the Magi

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"The magi brought valuable gifts..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

The “magi” referred to here, and in the title, are the “Three Wise Men” that play a part in the nativity story in the Bible. In the story, the magi travel hundreds of miles to be there when Jesus is born. The magi each brought a different gift: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This is where the tradition of gift giving on Christmas comes from.

"King Solomon..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

King Solomon of Israel, a rich king from the Old Testament, was visited by the Queen of Sheba because she wanted to test his wisdom. She asked him a series of difficult questions, and when he answered all of them correctly, she was so impressed that she showered him with gold and jewels. Then, to show his gratitude, King Solomon granted her everything she desired.

"Queen of Sheba..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

The Queen of Sheba, a wealthy queen from the Old Testament, ruled an ancient kingdom in the region of modern-day Ethiopia. This Biblical allusion is not surprising considering how the title of the story itself is a Biblical allusion.

"Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

This is another example of a Biblical allusion in the story. This line alludes to Luke 12:7: “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” It seems like Jim’s love for Della may not have been what she thought because he seems so distraught by her cut hair. This is Della explaining to Jim that nothing matters more to her than her love for him.

"the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

The letters look blurred because the card is old. Jim has not been able to replace it with a new card because he cannot afford to pay for it. Notice how O. Henry continually alludes to the Dillingham’s low social status through descriptions of their living situation, instead of outright stating to the reader that they are poor.

"Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family..."   (The Gift of the Magi)

O. Henry may be hinting that Della is expecting a baby because up to this point in the story, there has been no mention of children. Since the next day is Christmas, this alludes to the story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible. In the Bible, Joseph and Mary, also a poor young couple, spend a night in a stable, where their baby was born in a manger and the three Magi came to worship and give gifts.

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