Study Guide

The Gift of the Magi Women and Femininity

By O. Henry

Women and Femininity

The main character of "Gift of the Magi" is a woman named Della. Loveable as she is, at times, Della is hysterical, often overreacting, a characteristic that the narrator identifies as "feminine." Della's complete and single-minded devotion to her husband could raise the question of whether the love in their relationship is between equals or based on a difference in power between the two.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What makes Della "feminine," according to the story? Is Della presented as an ideal woman, a typical woman, neither?
  2. In what ways do Della's feminine qualities contrast with Jim's character?
  3. Is Jim and Della's relationship one of equality? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Della's own sense of femininity is defined by her long hair.