Oh What an Ironic World William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was widely known for his short stories. He is often to as the 'Master of Short Stories. ' His stories were filled with twist and irony within the plot. 'Some have called him the American Maupassant because of his so well made surprising endings' (Online). In 1908 critic Henry James Forman wrote that 'No talent could be more original or more delightful.
The combination of technical excellence with whimsical, sparkling wit, abundant humor and a fertile invention is so rare that the reader is content without comparisons' (Next ext Online). O. Henry also used re occuring themes in his stories such as love above everything else. Authors of short stories use elements of style to make their stories interesting. There are many elements of style used by authors. Irony and theme are often used in short stories. This is clearly shown in O. Henry's short stories such as " The Gift of the Magi,"The Lickpenny Lover", and "Ships". The short stories of O. Henry use the element of theme to bring about ironic endings.
An example of O. Henry's use of irony is shown in the short story 'The Gift of the Magi'. In this story Jim and Dell were newlyweds. They were extremely poor, however they had an amount of love for each other. It was Christmas, and although they had decided not to exchange presents, each wanted to give the other a gift. Jim sold his beloved pocket watch so that he could buy combs for Dell to wear in her beautiful long hair. Dell cut her hair and sold it so that she could buy a chain and fob for Jim's pocket watch.
As they exchanged the gifts and saw the price of the gift each had given, that which was most dear to them, they realized that they have gave up in order to show their love for each other was what was necessary to complete the gift. Theme is also used in "The Gift of the Magi". There are elements of theme throughout the entire story. One example of theme in the story is that poverty affected both the main characters Jim and Della. Jim and Della both lived in a poor neighborhood with very little money.
They both wanted to get each other a very meaningful Christmas present. Another element of theme in this story is that Jim and Della realize how much they love each other. Eugene Garcia finds that "In this trite little tale of mutual self-sacrifice between husband and wife, O. Henry crystallized dramatically what the world in all it's stored up wisdom knows to be of fundamental value in ordinary family life" (short story criticisms 192). The theme of this story should always be kept in mine that love is more important then money...
The short story "A Lickpenny Lover" had a similar theme to "The Gift of the Magi". The reoccurring theme in "A Lickpenny Lover" was that money was not everything. Masie a beautiful young girl met a a man, Irving Carter, painter, millionaire, traveller, poet, and. Masie was an extremely poor girl who lived in a tiny home with almost nothing.
The underlying irony that O. Henry included in this story was very discreet. The irony that was included in this story was the name of Masie's shop. It was called the Biggest Shop when in reality it was the complete opposite of what she represented. Nothing about her was big, in fact her house was the smallest in the entire neighborhood.
The main them of this story was the power of love. Carter was extremely rich and powerful. The fact that Masie was a poor store owner didnt change the fact that they were in love. The story states: 'Masie,' said Carter, earnestly, 'you surely know that I love you. I ask you sincerely to marry me. You know me well enough by this time to have no doubts of me.
I want you, and I must have you. I care nothing for the difference in our stations. ' 'What is the difference?' asked Masie, curiously. 'Well, there isn't any,' said Carter, quickly, 'except in the minds of foolish people.
It is in my power to give you a life of luxury. My social position is beyond dispute, and my means are ample. ' This is Carter showing that there is no difference between himself and Masie. Once they are married they become one.
The short story 'Ship' is simply full of irony. This story is about a group of men who strand themselves on an island. At first they planned 2 set traps in the floor in order to harm the people in the village trying to harm them. This was all changed when they also fell into their own traps.
This is how O. Henry portrayed the situation, 'The first to emerge uttered ambiguous squeals, and raised one foot quickly. Another step and they sat down, with shrill cries of alarm, to pick at the new and painful insects that had stung them upon the feet. '~Que picador es diables! ~' they screeched to one another across the narrow ways. ' The irony is obvious the way the men planned to set up traps for enemies and thy entrapped themselves. In conclusion, O. Henry is one of the most well-known short story writers of all time. He used irony in most of his stories.
This is why many critics refer to him as the ' Master of irony. O. Henry also uses moral themes in his stories. Mostly he uses the theme of love above all. To him he believes that love is the ultimate emotion and should be the meaning for everything..