The Selfish Giant

the selfish giantThe Irish writer Oscar Wilde is known today for his plays (most notably The Importance of Being ), his famous The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his short stories such as “The Canterville Ghost”. He also wrote a number of children’s stories. One of the best known of these is “The Selfish Giant”. The two main s of the story are greed sharing, and Christian love. However, if you look at the story in terms of the of the songs below (taken from the 1971 Video), you will see that the story carries some other important lessons for people of all religions.

Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Pre-Intermediate Level 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

We are always happy to receive requests for stories. The Selfish Giant was suggested by a reader from Scotland. She wrote:

“Another story which might be added is ‘The Selfish Giant’ by Oscar Wilde. When I was away at school over 40 years ago our would always read us a story with meaning on Sunday evening. One of them was The House with Golden Windows already on your list. A longer was that of ‘Greyfriars Bobby”. My friends and I have remembered these tales all our lives – they can still bring a tear to the eye !.”

If you would like us to cover a particular story that you think would be of interest to other learners or is special for you, simply send a request through the “Contact Us” tab above.

the happy princeThe Selfish Giant first appeared in a a book called The Happy Prince and Other Tales, which was published in 1888. According to Wilde, that these stories were designed to be read TO children rather than read BY them. The Happy Prince can be downloaded in various forms from Project Gutenberg here. An is available from Librivox here.


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(adj: earnest) 1. Serious or over-serious; not lighthearted or playful. (จริงใจ; เอาใจใส่; ตั้งใจจริง) 2. Showing determination, sincerity or strong feeling. (เอาจริงเอาจัง) 5000

novel(n: novel pl novels) A long written story, usually about imaginary characters and events. (นวนิยาย)
(n: novelist pl novelists) The writer of a novel. (นักแต่งนวนิยาย) 4000

(n: theme pl themes) In literature, a central idea that is communicated in a story. Note that a theme may be an idea that the writer wishes to convey, or another idea that a reader or group of readers interpret into the story. Most themes are implied through the plot rather than stated directly. (หัวข้อ) 4000

(prep: vs; abbreviation for 'versus') Against; used to indicate the two people, teams, etc., that are fighting or competing against each other or two different things, choices, etc., that are being compared or considered. (ต่อสู้กับ) 3000

(n: lyric pl lyrics) 1. A poem that expresses deep personal feelings in a way that is like a song; a lyric poem. (บทกวีที่บรรยายความรู้สึกของผู้แต่ง) 2. (plural) The words of a song. (เนื้อเพลง) 5000

blossom(n: blossom pl blossoms) A flower, especially of a fruit tree.(ดอกไม้) 6000

branch(n: branch pl branches) An arm-like part of a tree that grows out from the central part. (กิ่งก้าน) 2000

breath(n: breath pl breaths) The air that you take into your lungs and send out from your lungs. His breath smells like garlic. It was so cold I could see my breath. (ลมหายใจ) 3000
(phrasal verb: hold your breath) To stop breathing for a short time, such as when you dive into water or are scared about something. (กลั้นหายใจ)
(phrasal verb: take a deep breath / breathe deeply) To take a lot of air into your lungs. (หายใจลึก)

chimney(n: chimney pl chimneys) A part of a building through which smoke rises into the outside air. (ปล่องไฟ) 3000

dare(v: dare, dares, dared, daring) To have enough courage or confidence to do something; to not be too afraid to do something. (กล้า) 2000
(expression 1: I dare you to.) Used to tell someone that you want them to do something you think they may be scared to do. (expression 2: Don't you dare!) Used to forcefully tell someone not to do something. (expression 3: How dare you!) Used to show that you are angry about what someone has done or said.

dust(n: dust, noncount) A fine powder made up of very small pieces of earth, sand, etc. The furniture was covered in dust. (ฝุ่น)
(adj: dusty; dustier, dustiest) Filled or covered with dust. He cleaned the dusty shelf. (เป็นฝุ่น) 2000

frost(n: frost pl frosts) A thin layer of ice that forms on the ground, on grass, etc., when the air becomes cold. (น้ำค้างแข็ง) 3000

hail(n: hail, noncount) Pieces of ice that fall from clouds like rain. (ลูกเห็บ) 5000

joy(n: joy plural joys) A feeling of great happiness. (ความสุขสบาย ; ความสุขสันต์)
(adj: joyful or joyous) Filled with, showing or causing joy. (ที่เปี่ยมไปด้วยความสุข) 2000

paradise(n: paradise -pl paradises) 1. A place or state of great happiness. (สถานที่หรือสภาวะแห่งความสุข) 2. When used as a proper noun (beginning with a capital letter), another word for Heaven; the place where God or the gods live, and good people go when they die. (สวรรค์) 4000

prosecute(v: prosecute, prosecutes, prosecuted, prosecuting) To bring a legal action against someone. (ดำเนินคดี)
(n: prosecutor pl prosecutors) A government lawyer who accuses a person of a crime and who tries to prove in court that the person is guilty. (พนักงานอัยการ) 4000

scene(n: scene pl scenes) 1. That which is or can be seen when you look at something. (ทัศนียภาพ) 2. A loud or noticeable show of anger, especially in a public place. There was quite an ugly scene at the restaurant. (แสดงความโกรธ) 2000

selfish(adj: selfish) Having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people. (เห็นแก่ตัว) 1000

trespass(v: trespass, trespasses, trespassed, trespassing) To enter someone's land illegally. (การล่วงล้ำ) 7000

wicked(adj: wicked) 1. Morally bad; evil; sinful. A wicked witch. (ชั่วร้าย) 2. (informal) Having or showing slightly bad thoughts in a way that is funny or not serious. She wore a wicked smile after beating me at tennis. 3. (informal) Very bad or unpleasant. She had a wicked case of food poisoning. 4. (informal) Very good. He is a wicked dancer. 3000

wound(n: wound pl wounds) An injury that is caused when a knife, bullet, etc., cuts or breaks the skin. (บาดแผล) 3000

(n: headmistress pl headmistresses) A woman who is the head (Principal) of a school. (ครูใหญ่ ผู้หญิง) 6000

tale(n: tale pl tales) 1. A story about real or imaginary events; an exciting or dramatic story that may not be completely true. (นิทาน) 2. An untrue story that is told to deceive someone; a lie. He told me he had a lot of money, but that was just a tale. (เรื่องโกหก) 3000

e-book(n: e-book pl e-books) A book whose contents are in an electronic format so that it can be downloaded and read.

audiobook(n: audiobook pl audiobooks) A book that is read out loud and recorded on a CD or as a computer file so that it can be listened to. (หนังสือเสียง)

This sound-track is from a well-known vinyl recording of the story, spoken by Academy Award winning actor Frederick March. To download the mp3, click here.

An excellent 25 minute animated film produced for Reader’s Digest Canada. Wonderful music and very true to the original story. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.