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Prepared by:
A Semi-Detailed Lesson Plan
English-American Literature
Literature-Based Approach


Given several exercises, the students should be able to do the following with 90%
a. familiarize with the life and works of O. Henry;
b. identify the meaning of some unfamiliar words;
c. discriminate between the 3 types of irony: verbal, situational and dramatic;
d. determine the purpose of the irony: humor, fear, suspense, etc;
e. identify the situational irony in the selection and the purpose;
f. develop critical thinking by answering comprehension questions;
g. perform a short skit that portrays irony.


1. Ironic by Alanis Morissette.

2. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
3. Three types of Irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic
4. Purpose of Irony as a literary device

Materials: LCD Projector, speakers, laptop, power point slides, video montage,
crossword puzzle, copies of the text, rubrics


A. Motivation *10 minutes

I will use the LCD projector, laptop, and speakers to show the class a lyric video of
a song entitled Ironic sang by Alanis Morissette.

I will ask the class about their thoughts on the song and call on 2-3 volunteers
and give responses to their answersIs it funny? Sad? Can they relate to the lyrics?
Can they share a similar encounter in real life?

I will let the students guess what type of literary device the writer used in the
song and transition towards a brief background of the author of the selection to be
B. Before Reading

Brief Background of the Author *5 minutes

I will let the students guess what type of literary device the writer used in the
song and transition towards a brief background of the author of the selection to be

William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 June 5, 1910), known by his
pen name O. Henry, was an American short story writer. O. Henry's trademark is his
witty, plot-twisting endings, and his warm characterization of the awkward and
difficult situations and the creative ways people find to resolve them. His most
famous short story, The Gift of the Magi, epitomizes his style. It's a story about a
young married couple, short on money, who wish to buy each other Christmas gifts.
That problem -- their lack of funds -- finds a famously endearing and ironic

Unlocking Difficulties (Vocabulary) *10 minutes

I will ask for volunteers to answer the following crossword puzzle

1. Changing slowly step by step
6. Extremely happy
7. Huge, very large
8. Accusation
9. Unimportant

1. Giving
2. To urge on, to initiate, or stir
3. To reduce in value
4. Someone who avoids doing
his or her duty;
5. The quality of being careful
with money or resources;
thrift; stinginess

I will acknowledge their answers and tell them whether they are correct or
wrong by displaying the answers. I will call on some students to use the words in their
own sentences.
C. Reading *10minutes

(I will distribute copies of the short story and give students 8-10 minutes to read
the selection.)

D. After Reading

Discussion Questions *15 minutes

I will initiate a discussion about the short story and start off by asking the
students a brief summary followed by the comprehension questions below. The
person who can answer first will have the liberty of choosing the next person to
answer the following question and so on

1. Why do you think is it entitled The Gift of the Magi? Do you know what
the term Magi means?
2. Who is the protagonist? Who or what is the antagonist?
3. What is the significance of 3 in the story?
4. Would you invite either Della or Jim over for dinner? Why or why not?
5. If you were Della/Jim, would you have done the same?
6. Does "The Gift of the Magi" have a moral? What is it, if it does?
7. How did you find the ending? Did you expect it?

Discussion about Irony *15 minutes

Transition question: Based on the ending of the story, what do you think is
I will ask students to point out the irony in the story. After which, I will then
discuss the 3 types of irony by showing a video animation for each: verbal,
situational, and dramatic irony.
I will then have them identify which type of irony took place in the story and elicit
from them the different purposes of irony as a literary device.


Activity 1. DIRECTIONS: Identify the type of irony used in each situation:

1. A small child does not flush the toilet, and the mother says, "I really appreciate
when you flush the toilet! Thank you for remembering your manners!"
2. In the movie Parent Trap, two identical twins connive by switching places without
their divorced parents realizing it wasnt the child they raised.
3. A man branches from the main road to avoid being hit by a speeding car and is
suddenly hit by a truck!
4. Mark is very upset over the fact that his brand new truck has a little speck of mud
on the bumper, and Jennifer, who has a used car, says, My goodness! That's a
5. You are with your friends family for an outing. A family friend recognizes your
friends mom and says hi. She says to you and your friend, Its been a long time
since I saw you! Wow. You have two beautiful children already! You and your
friend snicker secretly.
Activity 2 *10 minutes for in-classroom preparation (to be performed the following

DIRECTIONS: Group yourselves into 3 and prepare a short skit to be performed in 1-3
minutes. The irony you are going to portray will be determined by drawing lots.

I will rate the presentations based on an analytic rubric. I will also provide the
students a copy for them to evaluate their own performance.

Rubric for Short Skit

Task Description: Perform a short skit that illustrates the use of irony.

Criteria 5 - Exceptional 4 - Admirable 3 - Acceptable 2 - Attempted


Use of irony is Use of irony is Use of irony is Use of irony is

accurate mostly accurate somewhat inaccurate
50% Indicates a clear Good accurate Presentation is
of Topic understanding understanding Fair off topic
of topic of topic understanding
of topic
Shows Shows some Unsure of Portrayal stalls
confidence confidence responsibility Lacks
Informative Presents some Somewhat information
Entertaining; information informative Audience bored
engages Engages Engages Mumbles
Presentation 50%
audience audience audience Body language
Speaks loudly Can be heard intermittently is lacking;
and clearly Some use of Hard to hear inappropriate
Appropriate use body language Some
of body movement
Rubric for Short Skit

Task Description: Perform a short skit that illustrates the use of irony.

Criteria 5 - Exceptional 4 - Admirable 3 - Acceptable 2 - Attempted

Use of irony is accurate Use of irony is mostly accurate Use of irony is somewhat accurate Use of irony is inaccurate
Understanding Indicates a clear understanding of Good understanding of topic Fair understanding of topic Presentation is off topic
of Topic topic

Shows confidence Shows some confidence Unsure of responsibility Portrayal stalls

Informative Presents some information Somewhat informative Lacks information
Presentation 50% Entertaining; engages audience Engages audience Engages audience intermittently Audience bored
Speaks loudly and clearly Can be heard Hard to hear Mumbles
Appropriate use of body language Some use of body language Some movement Body language is lacking;
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below
by O. Henry her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she
faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in
at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-
seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected
herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which
instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. "Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. "I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."
A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout
for the mendicancy squad. Down rippled the brown cascade.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal "Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being
paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores
to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat for Jim's present.
above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the
Della. Which is all very good.
stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design,
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things
dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him.
$1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried
Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any
$1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that
Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned he used in place of a chain.
by Jim.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a
very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.
fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"
was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the
of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry
just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled
up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that
from envy. he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just
a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she "Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave
whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty." or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you
had me going a while at first."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only
twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! A quick
feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and powers of the lord of the flat.
there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor
disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway
with that peculiar expression on his face. window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished
hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the
Della wriggled off the table and went for him. least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted
adornments were gone.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived
through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My
My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a hair grows so fast, Jim!"
beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the
hardest mental labor. Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious
metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now.
Jim looked about the room curiously. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy. Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at
me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."
"but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger.
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly
scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful
difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their
was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on. house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the
wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
1. Why do you think is it entitled The Gift of the Magi? Do you know what the term Magi means?
The title of the story refers to the three "wise men" or magi who are supposed to have come bringing precious gifts to present to Jesus at his birth. O. Henry used this title because of the idea of precious gifts
and the idea of wisdom that the title alludes to.
"The Gift of the Magi" is a story in which a young couple excel in their giving one to another. The author compares their giving to the gifts the Magi gave to baby Jesus. The Three Wise men knew how to give.
They gave unique gifts with special emphasis. Jim and Della have given special gifts one to the other. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their most prized possession.
Truly, no other couple has been compared to The Three Wise Men and their giving of themselves. The author of "The Gift of the Magi" beautifully writes how Jim and Della pay the price by giving up valuable
gifts to show their love for one another.
2. Who is the protagonist? Who or what is the antagonist?
This is a particularly astute question to ask about this short story, because I actually believe we cannot use traditional terms to analyse the characters. In most tales, there is a clearly defined central character--
the protagonist--who is in conflict in some way with the antagonist who tries to prevent the protagonist from achieving his goals or aims. However, if we examine this story, there is no real character who
stands in the way of Jim and Della and their love. In a sense, the central protagonist is Della, and, as the first paragraph of the story makes clear, her antagonist is not another character, but poverty:
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 the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents.
Note the repetition of the paltry amount that Della has managed, through considerably hard work, to scrimp and save. It is poverty that thus tries to stand in Della's way and prevent her from obtaining the
present she wants to get her husband as being a gift worthy of the love that she has him. Therefore, we can say that there is a protagonist and an antagonist, but only if we think more widely about these terms
and are willing to classify poverty itself as the antagonist.
3. What is the significance of 3 in the story?
a. The story has three main characters: Della, Jim, and Madame Sofronie f. The narrator alliteratively describes Della as speaking with sudden serious
b. Della counts her money three times (para. 1). sweetness.
c. The narrator says that Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles (para. 2). g. Balthasar, Melchor, and Gaspar are the three magi, with three homelands.
d. A reference is made to the Queen of Sheba, who gave King Solomon three types h. The magi offered three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
of gifts: spices, gold, and jewels. i. The story centers on three valuables: Jims gold watch, Dellas hair, and the love
e. A sentence in para. 5 states, She stood by the window and looked out dully at that Jim and Della share.
a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard.

4. Would you invite either Della or Jim over for dinner? Why or why not?
5. Does "The Gift of the Magi" have a moral? What is it, if it does?
No greater love is expressed than the love Jim and Della have for each other. Their gift giving displays the unselfish attitudes. Jim and Della care deeply and each one's gift giving expresses a genuine
desire to please the other.
6. If you were Della/Jim, would you have done the same?
7. How did you find the ending? Did you expect it

Why a song as motivation?

- Music is something that everyone loves and having a pop song as a motivation will surely peak their interests...
Is it necessary to include the author's background? Why?
- I adapted the cultural model on this part of the lesson where literature is used as a source of information.
- being informed of the author's background may also deepen the student's intellectual grasp of the text
- in this case, O. Henry's past as someone working in the bank who had been accused of fraud is quite a show of irony as well with the piece he has written
Vocabulary/Unlocking of Difficulties
- Language Model
- Students can improve their language proficiency by using literature as a resource in language learning.
Piece itself
- Personal Growth Model