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Comparative Literature: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” Essay


Love and desire are themes that are discussed by many writers because of the variety of these feelings’ sides and aspects that can be expressed by the literary characters. The dominant vision of the meaning of love in life presented in the story is usually associated with the speaker’s specific point of view.

In spite of the fact that Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” are similar because these short stories discuss the theme of love and desire, the speakers’ points of view presented in the stories are absolutely different. The reader receives the opportunity to focus on different representations of love and passion as characters’ strong feelings.

Thus, Chopin’s point of view can be described as realistic and even cynical because the adultery leads to happiness in her story; in contrast, O. Henry’s point of view and tone can be discussed as romantic and hopeful because it is an altruistic desire to give and share that leads to happiness in the described family.

Although Chopin uses the metaphor of storm in order to describe the adultery and the female character’s desire and passion, the speaker’s presentation of the love affair is extremely realistic and focused on details. Calixta and Alcee are the former lovers who lack the real passion in their marriages, and they choose to express their desire that is destructive like the storm. Thus, the speaker describes the adultery at the background of the storm quite realistically.

However, the tone and point of view become cynical when the speaker describes the intentions of Calixta’s husband to buy something to please the wife (Chopin 97). In contrast, Calixta seems to forget about her role of the wife and mother, and she becomes concentrated on her passion and desire.

The author ends the story saying, “So the storm passed and everyone was happy” (Chopin 99). It seems that both Calixta and Alcee do not feel any guilt because of their adultery. Furthermore, the characters’ calmness and Chopin’s references to the Virgin Mary and Assumption make the reader doubt regarding the realness of the characters’ love (Chopin 98). The speaker accentuates the cynical reality of life while demonstrating the ambiguity of the characters’ feelings.

On the contrary, Della and Jim, the main characters of O. Henry’s short story are the embodiments of the real lovers who are devoted to each other. In spite of the fact that the speaker’s tone is rather ironical, the point of view can be discussed as romantic and hopeful. Della and Jim are ready to present their treasures to each other because of the great feeling of love and because giving is happiness for these young people.

Thus, O. Henry describes Della’s desire to find the best gift for Jim stating, “Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him” (Henry 165). Even understanding that their gifts are useless, Della and Jim realise the real strength of their love. Thus, the writer intended to demonstrate the romantic love of the young couple while accentuating the value of their feelings and their hope for the future.

From this perspective, it is possible to state that the speaker’s point of view in “The Storm” is more realistic and cynical because Calixta and Alcee’s passion and desire lead to happiness instead of guilt, in contrast to the romantic discussion of love. On the contrary, Della and Jim’s useless actions lead to the fulfilment and happiness because they tenderly love each other. Thus, O. Henry’s vision of love is rather hopeful and romantic in this story.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. “Dead Men’s Path”. Backpack Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 269-272. Print.

Chopin, Kate. “The Storm”. Backpack Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 95-100. Print.

Henry, O. “The Gift of the Magi”. Backpack Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 164-168. Print.

Updike, John. “A&P”. Backpack Literature. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 18-23. Print.

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"Comparative Literature: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”." IvyPanda, 7 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/comparative-literature-kate-chopins-the-storm-and-o-henrys-the-gift-of-the-magi/.

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IvyPanda. "Comparative Literature: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”." July 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparative-literature-kate-chopins-the-storm-and-o-henrys-the-gift-of-the-magi/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Comparative Literature: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”." July 7, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/comparative-literature-kate-chopins-the-storm-and-o-henrys-the-gift-of-the-magi/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Comparative Literature: Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”'. 7 July.

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