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Both “The necklace” written by Guy de Maupassant and
“The Gift of Magi” written by O. Henry, are an amazing story written by
probably two of the best short story writers. Both of the stories are composed
of two young, beautiful women Mathilde from “The necklace” and Della from “The
Gift of Magi”. Even though they are in different stories that have similar
characteristics that convey throughout the story such as, they are both
financially and emotionally depressed, and have loving husbands. Throughout the
stories they have many similarities, however there are some differences.


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“The Necklace” by Guy De Maupassant, was written in
1884 and portrays the life of a somewhat poor Parisian couple, the Loisel’s, of
which Mathilde, the woman, always felt mediocre and unhappy. When they’re both
invited to a high-class party, she asks a rich friend of hers to lend her a
diamond necklace to match her outfit. While returning from the party, Mathilde
discovers that she’s lost the necklace. As it couldn’t be found, the couple
buys a very similar one for an excessive price, which they go deeply into debt
for, and they give it to the other woman, Mme. Forestier, without mentioning
what had happened. A decade later, when the entire debt has been paid off,
Mathilde meets her old friend again and decides to tell her the truth, after
which Mme. Forestier answers with surprise that the original necklace had been
an imitation worth not even a tenth of the price they had paid.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a 1906 short story by O.
Henry centered on a young couple living in a small New York apartment with very
few material belongings, of which only two can be considered as their pride:
The man’s gold watch and his wife, Della’s, long and beautiful hair. When
Christmas Day comes, Della realizes that she must sell her hair if she wants to
buy her husband a good present, and so she does; she uses the money to buy him
a platinum chain for his watch. However, when they meet again, they realize
that they have each sacrificed what was most worthy to them in order to buy
each other the presents they had wanted; Della gave away her hair to buy the
chain, while Jim, her husband, sold his watch to buy her a set of combs. In the
end, they decide not to talk anymore about their gifts and have dinner together

Love and relationship

Even though both The Gift of the Magi and The Necklace
portray certain events in the life of a married couple, the relationships they
have with each other appear to be completely different. In the case of the
Youngs, they seem to have an almost perfect, happy and balanced relationship;
the Loisel’s, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as balanced or idealistic as
them. This could perhaps be since, while in the case of the Youngs it is
implied that they married out of free will, in the story about the Loisel’s the
reader is told that Mathilde “let herself be married off to a little clerk in
the Ministry of Education”, implying that she did so out of social reasons
instead of emotional ones. Mathilde strikes the reader as a woman deeply in
love with herself and with superficial trivialities, which probably meant that
she didn’t have the emotional maturity to be in a relationship with someone
else, let alone a marriage, and so she wasn’t only unwilling but also unable to
return her husband’s affection. However, in The Necklace, it could be said that
their relationship isn’t the center of the story, as is the case with The Gift
of the Magi, since the emphasis is put on Mathilde’s attitude and


Sacrifice is when a person gives up something of great
value for the sake of principal, this can be seen in both the stories. Both
stories portray their main characters as such at certain moments. In The Gift
of the Magi, this is a pretty straightforward symbol since both partners
literally sacrificed their most valuable items for each other; meanwhile, in
The Necklace, there’s a distinct change in Mathilde, since at the beginning she
is filled with self-pity and believes herself to be a sacrifice when nothing
could be further from the truth – in any case, her husband would be the one,
since he sacrificed many things for her happiness. However, as the story
progresses you can see that her attitude towards life changes and that, having
lost all her money and beauty to pay away her debt, she has become a different,
more mature person. In both stories we can see that sacrifices were made from
love and pride – perhaps for certain characters more of one than the other, but
nevertheless, these two elements were present as part of their decisions.


Even though at first glance the main characters in
both stories don’t seem particularly similar in terms of personality, it could
be argued that they share one important defect, or characteristic: they are too
prideful to consider conducting themselves in a less radical way, which led to
a certain degree of dishonesty and glaring communication issues, besides unnecessary
sacrifices. In the case of the Youngs, neither of them can admit that they
don’t have enough money to buy each other amazing presents, but instead of
discussing this situation and perhaps reaching a better arrangement, they don’t
think twice about giving away their most valuable items (both materially and
sentimentally) to create the illusion of being able to gift luxuries. The
Loisel’s, however, and Mathilde, seem to have a larger amount of issues
relating to this, as from the very beginning she’s described as an excessively
prideful woman with unrealistic aspirations, which is what dominates her life
and makes her so miserable at first; later, she and her husband end up horribly
compromising their finances for years instead of simply admitting the loss of
the necklace to Mme. Forestier. In neither case did any of them consider acting
differently, most likely because of their own complexes; consequently, it can
be said that both marriages were concerned with their appearance to the
external world and to others in a certain way, even if in The Gift of the Magi
this wasn’t as obviously put as in The Necklace, in which it would seem to be
the main cautionary theme of the story.


 One of the most
noticeable aspects in both stories is the amount of material wealth, or lack
connection, that the couples have. The authors, through the use of certain
imagery, have set the characters in an uncomfortable, dull environment, as can
be evidenced in descriptions such as “a furnished flat at $8 per week (…) did
not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout
for the mendicancy squad” (Henry, 1906) or “(…) the poorness of her house, from
its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains” (Maupassant,1884). The exact
extent of each couple’s financial poorness is somewhat debatable, though, since
one could get the impression that the Youngs are of a low working class while
the Loisel’s could be considered as part of the middle class before the first
turn of events in their story (after which they do find themselves in the
lowest socioeconomic segment of the population). All in all, it is evident that
in both cases the protagonists are facing financial hardships and that these innocently
dominate their actions; however, it’s interesting to observe what is making the
contrast with their material status in each story, since for the marriage in
The Gift of the Magi, the exterior “drabness” is what emphasizes the cozy,
loving atmosphere between them, pointing towards the vast amounts of immaterial
wealth they have simply by sharing their lives with each other, while in the
story of The Necklace, the only comparison done about their current status
comes from Mathilde, who is constantly lamenting the fact that those from a
higher class have luxuries she doesn’t, thus taking into account nothing else
but their material riches.


In conclusion, there are multiple main themes (love,
sacrifice, pride and wealth) that can be seen in both “The Gift of the Magi”
and “The Necklace”. Both stories include sacrifice and irony, which differ in
blame, attitude, and identity. The actual difference between the similar
protagonists due to their situation is amazing, since it shows that the main difference
is in how they observe things to be, not how they really are.

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