The Selfish Giant
About the Author
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish wit, poet, novelist, and playwright. Wilde was born of professional and literary parents. His father, Sir William Wilde, was an ear and eye surgeon, who also published books. His mother was a revolutionary poet and an authority on Celtic myth and folklore. He published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist.
Known for his biting wit, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. He is best known for his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), and his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He was a spokesperson for the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement in England, which advocated art for art’s sake.
The Selfish Giant (Summary)
This is a story written by Oscar Wilde. It is a children’s story. In this story, we can find the characters like the selfish giant, his friend Cornish Ogre who are mythical humans.
The story begins with the children who used to play in the giant’s garden after school. The garden was large and very beautiful with green grass. Over the grass, there were beautiful flowers like stars. There was the castle of the giant also.
After seven years, the giant returned from his friend Cornish Ogre. He became furious because he saw the children playing in his garden. He growled and chased the children out of his garden. He built a high wall around his garden and put up a notice board with a warning. On the board "TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED" was written.
The children became quite upset because they missed their lovely place to play. They didn't find any suitable place for them to play. Because of the bad behaviour of the giant, the garden started to become ugly.
There was spring season all over the country but there wasn’t spring season in the giant’s garden. The spring season stopped appearing in his garden. There was only the winter season. The frost, the north wind, the hail and the snow started appearing there whereas there were beautiful flowers, fruits and birds chirruping outside his garden where children were free. The giant became very sad to find the boring condition of his garden.
One morning, he saw the most wonderful sight. He saw the little hole in the wall through which the children were entering into his garden. He saw the children playing in his garden. The trees were so glad to welcome the children back again in the garden.
They had covered themselves with blossoms. The birds were also flying and twittering with delight. He found spring season once again in his garden because of the presence of the children. Far away in one corner, there was still winter. He saw a small boy there who couldn’t climb up the tree.
The poor tree was covered with frost and snow and the north wind was blowing and roaring above it. The sight made the giant realize his mistake. His heart melted. He noticed why the Spring wouldn’t come in his garden. He went there and helped the boy. The boy kissed the giant being happy.
The giant broke the wall of his garden. He permitted the children to play in his garden. He started playing with them. After some years, the giant became old and weak. He was very feeble too. He couldn’t play with the children so he sat on a huge armchair and watched the children playing the games. One day, while he was sitting on his chair, he saw a marvellous sight in the farthest corner of the garden.
There was the same little boy whom he had loved. He rushed towards there but became angry to find signs of nails on the boy's palms and feet. When he asked the boy about him, the boy related to him about his help and offered him his garden which was the garden of paradise. That particular afternoon, the giant was found dead underneath a big tree. His body was covered with white blossoms.
Exercise of The Selfish Giant
Understanding The Text
Answer the following questions
a. Where did the children use to play?
➜ During the afternoons after school, the children used to play in the giant's beautiful garden.
b. What did Snow and the Frost do to the garden?
➜ Snow and Frost were two agents who appeared in the Giants' garden after the Giants behaved rudely to their children. Snow put its vast white coat on the grass, and frost painted all the trees silver. They even invited the north wind to join them at night
c. What did the giant hear when he was lying awake in bed?
➜ When the giant was awake in bed, he heard some delightful music from a little singing bird linnet. After a long time, he finally heard the music.
d. Why do you think spring season never came to the giant's garden?
➜ I believe the spring season, like the children, got depressed. She grew so enraged that she never returned to the giant's garden to witness the giant's rudeness and selfishness toward the innocent youngsters.
e. How did the giant realise his mistake?
➜ The giant noticed his mistake when he noticed an unexpected change in his garden. In his yard, he discovered snow, frost, north winds, fog and other weather conditions. He felt personally responsible for all his actions towards the children. When the boys reappeared in his garden, he re-bloomed with leaves and flowers. He heard a bird singing in the garden. As a result, he realized his mistake.
Reference to the Context
A. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.
a. “How happy we were there!” they said to each other.
i. Where does ‘there’ refer to?
➜ 'There' refers to the giant's garden where children used to play after school.
ii. What does ‘they’ refer to?
➜ 'They' refers to the children who used to come and play in Giant's garden after school.
iii. Why are they saying so?
➜ They are saying so because they are no longer permitted to play in the giant's garden. The giant, enraged, chased them out of his garden.
B. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said; “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”
i. Who is the speaker?
➜ The speaker is an elderly and feeble giant who sits on his armchair and observes the children as they play.
ii. Who is he speaking to?
➜ He is speaking to himself admiring his garden.
iii. Who are ‘the children that the speaker is referring to?
➜ The 'Children' referred to by the speaker are the small and innocent school children who have a great time in the giant's garden.
iv. Why is the speaker saying that ‘the children are the most beautiful flowers of all’?
➜ The narrator who witnessed the existence of children in his garden believes that "children are the most beautiful flowers ever." He noticed her innocence and naivety. He believes that children are a gift from nature, their presence makes the whole garden look very beautiful, and many kinds of leaves and flowers are in bloom. He uses the connections here to appreciate the children in his garden, knowing that they are worth more than the flowers.
C. When the little child smiled at the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise," shortly afterwards, the happy giant dies. What is the coincidence of this event? Describe it to this fairy tale.
➜ The little child reappears in one of the garden's corners the next time. At the moment, the giant is rather elderly and frail. This time, the boy seemed to favour the giant who once allowed him to play in his garden. The giant continues to look for and wait for the small youngster. In actuality, he is only alive to meet the entranced small child. Finally, he dies in the afternoon after hearing the small child's words.
D. The story makes use of personification as one of the main figures of speech. Cite three examples of personification from the story. What is the significance of the seasons personified in the story?
➜ The writer has used a figure of speech nicely here. The Snow, Frost, and North Wind are three examples of personification. The seasons are significant in the storey because they are tied to nature and play a critical part in converting the giant's garden with a unique force against wicked deeds.
E. This story can be read like a fairytale, where the children, the seasons, the tree, the corner of the garden, the snow, the wind and the frost are all used as symbolism. Interpret those symbols.
➜ In this scenario, the spring season represents happiness, whereas the winter season represents misery. The tree represents the child's identity as Christ. The garden's corner represents God's sacred location, from whence atonement is possible. The snow, wind, and ice represent a unique force against evil crimes.
F. Which figure of speech is used for ‘winter, frost, snow, north wind, hail and little child’? Who is the little child compared to?
➜ This short story makes excellent use of personification. Winter, frost, snow, north wind, hail, and a small infant have all been perfectly portrayed here. Winter, frost, and snow have all been personified as feminine genders with distinct power. They completed their responsibilities in opposition to the giant's actions. The north wind, hail, and the young child have all been personified as masculine genders with abilities.
In this story, the young child is connected to the Christian God 'Lord Jesus.' This young boy has been endowed with divine powers and the ability to change everything. The garden has flourished with gorgeous leaves and flowers as a result of his presence. The indications of two nails on the small child's hands and feet reminded us of Lord Jesus' crucifixion.
Reference Beyond the Text
A. What is the main theme of this story?
➜ This story contains several themes such as hubris, the repercussions of selfishness, love and compassion, the concept of salvation, and so on. Bad deeds are always punished, and good deeds are always rewarded. Here, we simply see the giant's arrogance and selfishness toward the youngsters, both of which have had negative consequences for him. But, because of his good deeds, he now has a great platform from which to approach the outside world.
B. Does God punish those who are cruel to children and very selfish?
➜ God punishes people who are cruel and selfish to children. Children are supposed to be God's most innocent creations. They are well-known for their straightforwardness. Their presence indicates a positive omen. This narrative of God's punishment of the giant is a great illustration. He is self-condemned for his wicked conduct.