Table of Contents
The Selfish Giant is a famous short story by Oscar Wilde. This chapter is the play it was converted into by M. Ryan Taylor. It tells us about a giant who had a very beautiful garden. However, one day the giant forbids anyone to enter the garden, selfishly claiming it all for himself. This has drastic effects.
Old Giant– the narrator of the play
The Giant– the narrator’s younger self
Cornish Ogre– The giant’s friend
Snow, Frost, Spring, Summer, Autumn, North Wind, Hail– the personification of these forces of nature
The Giant Drives out the Children
An Old Giant addresses the audience directly. The action plays out behind him as he describes it. He says he once owned a large, lovely garden, with soft green grass and beautiful starlike flowers. There were twelve peach-trees that bore pink and white flowers in spring and rich fruit in autumn.
The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games to listen to them. Every afternoon while coming back from school, the children used to play in the giant’s garden. The giant had then been staying with his friend the Cornish ogre for seven years. When he returned, he saw the children playing in his garden.
He asked them what they were doing there, and they ran away. The Giant said that his garden was his own garden and he would allow nobody to play in it but himself. The old giant points out his younger self working on a wall and putting up a sign.
He says he built a high wall and put up a notice-board that said trespassers would be prosecuted. He heard the children whispering outside the wall on their way to school, saying they had nowhere to play, and would have to play on the hard dusty road.
One of them suggested they should walk around the wall when school was over and talk about the beautiful garden inside. They call the giant a very selfish giant. The Giant opened a door in the wall and shouted at the children, saying that his garden was his own garden and he would allow nobody to play in it but himself. The children scattered.
Spring Does Not Come to the Garden
The Old Giant says that then Spring came, and there were blossoms and birds everywhere. But in his garden, it was still Winter. The birds did not come to sing, and the trees forgot to blossom.
Frost and Snow were very pleased. They said Spring had forgotten the garden, so they could live there all year. Snow covered up the grass like a cloak and Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited North Wind to stay with them. Wrapped in heavy furs, he roared all day and blew the chimney-pots over.
He said it was a delightful spot, and that they must ask Hail to come. So, old Hail came. He rattled on the roof of the castle and broke the slates, and then ran round the garden as fast as he could. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.
The giant sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden. He could not understand why Spring was so late and hoped there would be a change in the weather. But Spring never came, nor did Summer.
Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the giant’s garden she gave none because he was too selfish. So, it was always winter in the giant’s garden, and North Wind, Hail, Frost, and Snow lived in it.
Because of the giant’s selfishness, Spring and Summer and Autumn refuse to come to his garden. This lets the forces of Winter such as Snow, Frost, North Wind and Hail to settle into it, making it bleak and sad and ridding it of any beauty or joy.