The Selfish Giant English -By Oscar Wilde
‘The Selfish Giant’ is a short story for children written Oscar Wilde. This story is about a giant who learned an important lesson about love and sharing. The story begins with the children playing in the Giant’s garden every afternoon after arriving from school. The garden was beautiful, large, with soft grass and fruit trees. The trees bore rich fruit and the birds sang sweetly sitting on them.
One day after seven years, the giant returned. He was staying with his friend, the Cornish Ogre. The children were afraid to see him. He saw the children playing and said that he would not allow anyone to play here as it was his own garden. He built a wall around it and also put up a bulletin board. The bulletin board displayed a warning: “Intruders will be prosecuted. “The children were sad because they had no other place to play. They would wander the high garden walls and remember the beautiful garden within them. Spring season arrived and there were flowers and little birds everywhere. But it was winter in the giant’s garden and there were frost and snow. In the absence of children, the birds did not sing either. Once a flower sprouted from the grass, but after seeing the bulletin board, he also fell asleep again. Then came the north wind and the hail storm. Due to the giant’s selfishness, the golden fruits of autumn also did not reach his garden.
Then one morning the giant detected sweet and wonderful music. It was a squirrel singing outside his window. The hail and north wind stopped and he could feel spring. He saw the children entering his garden through a small hole. The children were sitting on the tree branches and the trees were blooming. He also saw the birds fly and heard them chirp. The flowers had also risen. But, to his surprise, winter was still in one corner. He saw that a boy was standing there and he could not reach the branches of the trees. The tree lowered its branches but still, it couldn’t climb. In this scene, his heart melted. He realized that he was actually very selfish. He decided to put that boy on the top of the tree, tear down the walls, and allow the children to play here forever. But when the children saw it, they fled and the garden was winter again. However, that child did not run while crying. The giant put it on the top of the tree and the tree immediately blossomed. He kissed the giant.
The other children came back to realize that the giant is not evil. Spring returned with them. The giant used to play with the children every afternoon, but that child was nowhere to be found. Over the years, it became very weak. One winter morning, he saw a beautiful tree with white flowers in the corner. The branches of the tree were golden and the boy stood underneath. The boy was injured, which greatly enraged the giant. He told the boy that he would kill the man who had hurt him. The boy told him that these were the wounds of love. The boy smiled and asked the giant to come to his garden. Later, the children found the dead giant under the tree covered in white flowers.
a. Where did the children use to play?
The children used to play in a beautiful garden of the giant during afternoon time after school.
b. What did the Snow and the Frost do to the garden?
The snow and the Frost were the two agents who appeared in the giant’s garden after the rude behaviour of the giant against the children. The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak and the Frost painted all the trees silver. They even invited the North Wind to stay with them.
c. What did the giant hear when he was lying awake in bed?
The giant heard some lovely music of a little singing bird linnet when he was lying awake in bed. He heard the music after a long time.
d. Why do you think spring season never came to the giant’s garden?
I think the spring season even became sad along with the children. She became so angry and never came to the giant’s garden to find the giant’s rudeness and selfishness against the innocent children.
e. How did the giant realise his mistake?
The giant realised his mistake by experiencing unusual changes in his garden. He found out snow, frost, north wind, fog, etc. in his garden. He felt guilty himself for all those acts which he had done against the children. When the children reappeared in his garden, the garden once again bloomed with leaves and flowers. He even heard the chirping of birds in his garden. Thus, he realised his mistake.
A. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow.
1. “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 aren’t allowed to play in the giant’s garden anymore. The giant has chased them out of his garden being furious.
2. “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 old and feeble giant who keeps on watching the children at their play sitting on his armchair.
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’ that the speaker is referring to are the small and innocent school children who enjoy a lot in the giant’s garden.
iv. Why is the speaker saying that ‘the children are the most beautiful flowers of all’?
The speaker is saying that ‘the children are the most beautiful flowers of all’ because he has experienced the presence of children in his garden. He has observed their simplicity and innocence. He believes that the children are the gift of beautiful nature and their presence has made the entire garden look so beautiful and bloom with different kinds of leaves and flowers. He makes the comparison here to value the children much because he knows the value of children in his garden than the flowers.
3. 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 in relation to this fairy tale.
The next time, the little child reappears in one of the garden’s corners. The giant is quite old and feeble at that time. The child appears this time to favour the giant who once had favoured him to play in his garden. The giant keeps on searching and waiting for the little child. He is in reality alive only to meet the enchanted little child. Finally, after the little child’s words, he dies in the very afternoon.
B. 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 perfectly used a figure of speech. The three examples of personification are the Snow, the Frost and the north wind. The significance of the seasons personified in the story is that they are related to nature and play a very vital role in transforming the giant’s garden with a unique force against bad deeds.
C. This story can be read as 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.
Here, the spring season symbolizes happiness whereas the winter season symbolizes suffering. The tree symbolizes the identity of the child as Christ. The corner of the garden symbolizes the sacred place of God from where redemption is possible. The snow, the wind and the frost symbolize unique force against bad deeds.
D. Which figure of speech is used for ‘winter, frost, snow, north wind, hail and little child’? Who is the little child compared to?
Here in this short story, we find the perfect use of personification. Here, winter, frost, snow, north wind, hail and little child have been wonderfully personified. Among these, winter, frost and snow have been personified as feminine gender with unique force. They have done their tasks against the giant’s acts. The north wind, hail and little child have been personified as masculine gender with powers.
The little child is compared to the Chrisitan God ‘Lord Jesus’ here in this story. This little child has been presented with divine powers who has the power to change each and everything. Due to his presence, the garden has been bloomed with beautiful leaves and flowers. The signs of two nails on the palms and feet of the little child have reminded us of the crucifixion of Lord Jesus.
What is the main theme of this story?
There are various themes here in this story as arrogance, consequences of selfishness, love and compassion, the concept of salvation etc. Good deeds are always rewarded whereas bad deeds are always punished. Here, we simply find the arrogance of the giant and his selfishness against the children which have brought bad results for him. But, due to his good deeds, he has got a fine platform to reach outside.
Does God punish those who are cruel to children and very selfish?
Yes, God punishes those who are cruel to and very selfish. Children are supposed to be very innocent and babies of God. They are known for their simplicity. Their presence is the sign of good omen. We can get a fine example from this story about God’s punishment to the giant. He feels guilty himself for his bad deeds.