Oscar Wilde's Selfish Giant
‘Selfish Giant’ is one of the short stories beautifully written by Oscar Wilde. By reading this short story you will instantly enter into a beautiful garden and live there during winter and spring seasons. You cannot but admire and applaud when he describes the winter season as ‘spring asleep’ insinuatingly. This short review is only to drive you towards the original.
The moment you enter the garden you are astonished with the scenic beauty of it. There are oak trees blossom with beautiful and colorful flowers in the spring season and birds sing merrily. Children play in the garden by climbing on the trees and enjoying the birds singing.
The garden belongs to ‘The Selfish Giant’. He has been away for some time. When the Giant returns to his garden the trouble brews.
On entering his garden, the ‘Selfish Giant’ sees that the children are playing and enjoying in his garden. He asks the Children in a high commanding tone, ‘what are you doing here?’ Feeling terrific and frightened at his voice, the children run away from the garden..
‘Selfish Giant’ also sets up a sign board with the words: ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’. Hence, thereafter, the children do not come to play in the garden for fear of facing ‘Selfish Giant’.
Thereafter, winter (described by Oscar Wilde as ‘spring fast asleep’) comes to the garden and the season lasts longer. Beyond the compound of the garden, the season changes into spring, but in the ‘Giant’s garden’ it is winter.
The ‘Selfish Giant’ is even worried to see that the winter season lasts longer in his garden alone with frost lingering on. Suddenly, he is pleased to see a small boy standing inside his garden under a tree. He is too small to climb up a tree. The Giant runs towards the boy lifts him up on a tree. Pleased with the Giant’s act, the small boy even kisses him. Giant is also pleased very much to see that the tree in which the boy stands is abound with blossoming flowers. Spring has returned to this tree alone. The Giant also notes that when some other small boys trickle into his garden through a hole in the compound wall, spring season returns to the garden and birds begin to sing.
Now the ‘Selfish Giant’ realizes that where the real happiness lies. He dismantles the compound wall and allows the children freely into his garden. Once again the feeling of joy and spring season is restored to his garden. But to his dismay and shock, he finds that the tiny tot from whom he received a kiss is not seen and whose whereabouts are also not known. In fact the ‘Selfish Giant' is longing for the arrival of the small boy.
Years roll by. The ‘Selfish Giant’ becomes old and fragile and is leaning in a chair.
One day, all of a sudden, he sees that the small boy is standing under a tree in a corner of his garden. The Giant runs towards him. He sees that the small boy has nail marks in his hands and legs. He tells the Giant that he has come to his garden just because he allowed a small boy into his garden. The ‘Selfish Giant’ is struck with awe and wonder; unknowingly he kneels down before him.
The next day, the children who have come to play in the garden see that the ‘Selfish Giant’ lay dead in the garden under a tree and is covered with full of white flowers.
In the above story, you can see the mastery of Oscar Wilde’s story narrating skills and turn your mood according to the season. When you are inside the Giant’s garden you can feel the spring season when the children are playing and when they are driven away, you will enter into the winter season and you can even feel the shivering with cold. When the “Selfish Giant’ meets the small boy and kneels down before Him, you are filled with a sense of reverence and mysticism. And above all you feel that young children are really children of God and you should be liberal with them. When the ‘Selfish Giant’ lies dead in his garden, you have a feeling of sympathy for him. Hence, by all means, the story is really a classic in the real sense of the word.
As a true lover of a classic short story by Oscar Wilde, you may even feel sorry for him for all the sufferings that he underwent in his personal life, though they might be of his own making. But no one can deny that his short story ‘Selfish Giant’ has all the elements of classicism in it.