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The Selfish Giant

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Фатеева Полина,

гр. з13538/1

The Selfish Giant

Oscar Wilde was a poet and playwright, one of the most famous Irish authors. “The Selfish Giant” was first published in 1888 as part of The Complete Short Stories collection, a great example of Wilde’s earlier works.

The story was written for children, which is why the language of the story is rather simple and explicative. The style in which it is written can be defined as playful and slightly ironic.

The setting of the story isn’t clearly defined, but we know that it is a magical, fairy-tail world, where you can find beautiful castles, ogres, and giants. Most of the action takes place in the Giant’s garden. The story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator. The main theme of the story is the theme of the importance of kindness and compassion in our life, as well as the theme of forgiveness and redemption.

One of the most important, major characters in the story is the Giant. The author mostly gives us the inner characterization of him, we can see who he is through his actions, and the outer characterization only gives us the gist of his appearance, the fact that he’s very tall and strong. The giant is not a static character, he changes throughout the story because of the experiences he goes through.

In the beginning of the story he seems selfish to us: when he returns to his castle and sees children playing in his beautiful garden he chases them away and builds a wall around it so that no one would be able to enter anymore. Because of that, the Spring doesn’t come to his castle anymore, his once beautiful garden is empty and cold, roamed only by the North Wind and the Hail. Which in many ways mirrors how the Giant treated the children by not allowing them to play in his garden, how cold he was to them.

But then, after a long while, the children manage to sneak into his garden again, which makes the Spring return. When the Giant hears the birds sing again and sees the children playing in the blossoming trees, albeit one little boy crying in the far corner of his garden, unable to climb up the tall trees, his heart melts. The Giant helps the boy onto the tree and realizes just how selfish he was. His joy at seeing the little boy playing transforms him.

This short story uses religious undertones to convey the message of (allowing love to flow into your heart so that you can learn to love all that’s around you.): after a while, the Giant starts missing the little boy, but he doesn’t come to play anymore. Then, one day, years and years later, the Giant sees the little boy again: his feet and hands bear the prints of nails on them, mirroring the wounds the Christ received when he was crucified. The child smiles at the Giant and asks him to come with him to his garden, “which is Paradise”. The giant passed from life into death and flowers bloomed over his body.

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