The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde – Summary, Analysis & Solved Questions

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is primarily renowned for his humour and command of the English language. The storey “The Selfish Giant” bears all of Wilde’s hallmarks: it is witty, inventive, and hilarious, and it is a wonderful piece of literary art. Because the storey is intended to be viewed as a Christian parable, the characters are metaphorical and didactic. They are personifications of archetypes that symbolise both positive and negative human attributes.

The Giant’s garden was stunning. It was a popular place for kids to play. They used to enter the vast magnificent garden with flowers and fruit trees every afternoon on their way home from school.

The Giant, on the other hand, was self-centred. When he returned home after seven years with his companion, he noticed the children playing in the garden. He yelled violently at them, and they fled. The Giant decided not to allow anyone else to play there. So he erected a huge boundary wall around it. He also posted a sign warning that anyone breaking into the garden would be prosecuted.

The poor children had nowhere else to go. They did not like playing on the dusty, stone-filled road.

Then, all around the country, spring arrived. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant was it still winter. No flowers grew, and no birds sang. The only visitors were the snow and frost, which turned all the trees silver. The north wind blew all day. It also requested hailstones.

The Giant was perplexed as to why the spring had gone by his garden. It was always winter there.

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He woke up one morning to the wonderful song of a linnet outside his window. He sprang out of bed and looked around. He witnessed a spectacular sight. The kids had slipped in through a hole in the wall. They were sitting on the limbs of trees that welcomed them with flowers. Only in one corner was it still winter. A tiny boy was weeping and walking around the tree. He was too little to climb.

The Giant’s heart melted. He went out into the garden. When they saw him, the children fled. The garden was transformed into winter once more.

But as he threw the young boy into the tree, it burst into blossoms. The child wrapped his arms around his neck and kissed him. Other children noted a change in the Giant’s demeanour. So they returned as well. The Giant knocked down the wall and began to play with them. He wanted to see the tiny boy he had placed in the tree. But he would leave.

Years passed, and he became elderly and frail. He realised that the children were the most beautiful flowers of all.

One winter morning, he noticed a tree with magnificent white blossoms and silver fruit. The small boy stood beneath it. He dashed up to the boy. He saw two nail wounds on the boy’s arms and feet. He screamed fiercely that he would kill the horrible man who had hurt him. The child then told him that those were the scars of Love. It went on to say that he had come to take him to his garden, which was bliss. The Giant was discovered dead under a tree in the afternoon.

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Analysis of The Selfish Giant

Oscar Wilde’s short story “The Selfish Giant” contains elements of fantasy and fairy tales. It is one of the shining examples of his humorous, captivating, and engrossing works.

The giant depicts the human soul, which desires all material comforts. The garden symbolises the material comforts and the temporal joy they bring to the soul. The giant has a sense of ownership over his garden, implying that the soul, in its delusion, believes that all assets gathered during its time on earth are its own. The soul has become so preoccupied with material things that it has forgotten its spiritual origins and purpose. It begins to regard the human body it occupies as its permanent home and seeks to amass goods in order to surround itself with earthly pleasures. The soul loses sight of its divine purpose: to live a worthy life, to be a source of comfort and assistance to others.

The giant’s life has been centred on meeting his own demands without regard for others. As a result, the once-blooming, warm, and colourful garden becomes the permanent abode of winter. Snow, Frost, the Northwind, and Hail all make their home in the giant’s garden. This chilly winter is the result of the giant’s heart and soul close to love. Spring represents the love that warms the heart, love that honours camaraderie and brotherhood, love that fosters compassion, kindness, and generosity. The soul is given the opportunity to redeem itself. Children steal into the garden and begin to play in the storey.

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The onset of spring amazes and delights the giant. He realises that the innocent youngsters are the source of warmth, colour, and joy in his garden. His heart melts when he sees the smallest child attempting but failing to get up to a tree. The giant’s gentle gesture of lifting the infant and placing him on the tree redeems the soul. The child’s appreciation, demonstrated by his hugging and kissing of the giant, liberates his spirit from its material shackles. Because the giant is no longer bound by his goods, he opens his garden to all who choose to visit.

Only through sharing love, kindness, charity, and joy can the soul grow happy. The giant discovers that true joy is found in praising all of God’s creations rather than accumulating goods. The soul yearns for salvation over time, as seen by the giant’s desire to meet the kid who kissed him. The storey concludes with Christ’s arrival. The giant is invited to Paradise, which marks the completion of the soul’s journey from heaven to earth and back.