Literary Comparison: The Gift of the Magi and the Necklace

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The two literary readings I have chosen to compare is “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Necklace”. The gift of the Magi captured my interest because of the profound themes of love and sacrifice. A heartfelt story was brought to us through the story “The Gift of the Magi’ he wrote such a touching short story about a couple’s love. This couple, Jim and Della, are not rich with worldly possessions, but they are rich in love. Their love fills in for everything that they lack as far as materials possessions. On the other hand, “The Necklace” written by Guy de Maupassant in 1884 is about a poor couple as well.

However, Mathilde and Monsieur are not the happiest couple. Mathilde feels as though she needs and deserves more material possessions. She relies on her husband to buy her things and he takes all her mental abuse. Both stories might have similar themes however; the wives’ characters, expressions, and thoughts are all completely different. The themes of these two stories are very similar. “The Gift of the Magi” is about a poor couple who are satisfied with what they have. They do not dream about buying something for themselves but each other.

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They do not fight but they encourage one another. On the other hand, in “The Necklace” another poor couple has chosen to live in a dream rather than reality. Mathilde dreams of the living in a beautiful home whereas Della does not seem to notice her surroundings. It is the narrator that paints the picture of the sparse surroundings. While her husband Monsieur seemed to be content with their home. “When she sat down to dine, before a tablecloth three Days old, in front of her husband, who lifted the cover of the tureen, declaring with an air of satisfaction, “Ah, the good pot-au-feu

I don’t know anything better than that,” she was thinking Of delicate repasts, with glittering silver, with tapestries…” (Maupassant as cited in Clugston, 2010, 8. 2 Short story para. 4) In this passage we learn that Monsieur he is happy and living in the moment. Whereas poor Mathilde is so busy day dreaming of what she thinks should be, that she is not present. Mathilde thinks about what she dose not have rather than what she has. In “The Gift of the Magi” the narrator tells us about the living conditions of Jim and Della’s day to day life. …One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents Of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time By bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man And the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with silent Imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. ” (Henry, as cited in Clugston, 2010, 5. 4 Short story, para. 6) This passage gives us a picture of just what little means Della and Jim have. You can tell that Della tried her best to save every penny, and she sounds disappointed in the amount she was able to save.

She counts the money over and over, just to make sure of the amount. In the second paragraph the narrator tells us how Della can think of nothing else to do, so she sits on the couch. Della sits on the couch and cries. I find this both sad and intriguing all at the same time. It seems sad, because the situation seems hopeless at this point, intriguing because her love runs so deep for Jim. Della spends her day crying and thinking about what she could buy with the little amount of money she has. She wants to buy something special for her husband for Christmas.

That kind of love is endearing and rare these days. Often we as a society focus on materials items rather than the true meaning of family and Christmas. In today’s economy there are so many families struggling to get by, myself included. I think we can learn so much from Jim and Della. First of all, the way they both puts others needs before their own, the sacrifice the made. It would be difficult if not impossible to find such love and sacrifice in today’s day and age. My guess would be that modern society could better relate to the characters on “The Necklace”. “…. he suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury. She suffered from poverty of her dwelling, from the worn walls, abraded chairs, the ugliness of the stuffs. ” In that passage it is described as though poverty was a physical condition that infected Mathilde. Later in the story we heart that Monsieur has been saving money to buy a gun. But, Mathilde demands a proper dress. Monsieur gives his wife the money he had been saving, yet it isn’t enough. The day of the party Mathilde put on her new dressit wasn’t enough, she wanted more. Now she wants jewelry.

There are some people in life that are never satisfied, they will never have enough materials possessions and money. There are those that could have all the money in the world, and still want more. Never realizing that what they are truly missing is love and healthy relationships. In the “The Gift of the Magi” the characters are not focused on what they do not have for themselves, rather they focus their energy on trying to buy something nice for one another. In the “The Necklace” the husband is trying to save to be a gun, and the wife is always dreaming of material things that she doesn’t have.

Again is section 35 Mathilde complains of: “No; there’s nothing more humiliating than to look poor among rich women. ” My though would be if one is so worried about what the “rich women” will think, then don not go. Be content with your life, or work to improve your surroundings. Mathilde makes her husband cry, when he learns she still isn’t happy. Monsieur then suggests that she go and borrow some jewelry from her friend. Then Mathilde goes to her friend and asks to borrow something, her friends allows her to look through the jewelry. Yet, Mathilde still is satisfied she asks if there is any more jewelry.

Then Mathilde discovered a beautiful diamond necklace. Her generous friend loaned her the necklace. The day of the party Mathilde was a success and very popular. Still Mathilde does not learn or appreciate, at the end of the night when her husband tried to put her wrap on her shoulders; she is then embarrassed by the wrap. She is much too embarrassed to wear it so she runs out into the cold in a rush so that the upper class would not see her. Once Mathilde arrives home, she realizes that she has lost her friends necklace. The couple franticly searched for the necklace and was not able to find it.

After the couple begged for money to buy a replacement necklace, the couple had to move to an attic apartment and Mathilde had to go to work, do her own chores and haggles over prices at the market. Now, Mathilde thinks of her life before she lost the necklace. How she would love to go back in time to before she lost the necklace, now Mathilde wants her old life back. In “The Gift of the Magi” the couple is not focused on their lack of materials possessions. Their seemed to be more focused on their love, and doing something for one another.

The story centers on three valuables: Jim’s gold watch, Della’s hair, and the love Jim and Della share. After Della sells her valuable hair to buy Jim a gift and Jim sells his valuable watch to buy her a gift. They are left with their love the most valuable of all; their love. In The Necklace” we learn in paragraph (105) Mathilde is now a robust, hard woman of a poor household. She no longer has her beauty. Still after all this time, Mathilde would set a wonder what her life would have been like if she had not lost that necklace, that turned out to be a fake.

Mathilde ran into some old friends, they were still young and beautiful were as Mathilde was old and worn out. The two talk about what has gone on in Mathilde’s life since the two last saw one another. Mathilde could have saved herself so much trouble, if she had been honest with her friend. I think that passage speaks volumes. When we look at what we do not have then we lose sight of what we do have. If we look closely we all have something in our life to be thankful for. For if we are not grateful for what we have; life can change and we can lose what we do have.

In both stories the couples were poor, what set them apart was their outlook on life. One couple chose to look at life less selfish than the other. At the end of both stories one couple still has something of great value, their love.


Clugston, R. W. , (2010). Journey Into Literature. (Ashford University ed). San Diego, CA: Bridgeport Education, Inc http://content. thuzelearning. com/books/AUENG125. 10. 2/sections/sec8. 2#start1 http://content. thuzelearning. com/books. AUWC. 12. 4/sections/sec7. 2#sec7. 2 http://content. thuzellearning. com/books/AUENG125. 10. 2/sections/sec5. 4#foot2 –

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