Giants in most mythological stories are big – very big. They are usually stupid, clumsy, and insatiable eaters. They live in giant castles with gigantic wives and several cooks. They are of course, intended to be frightening and have been the undoing of many noble young heroes.
But giants perform an essential service for anyone brave enough to try and use the gigantic information.
Giants have all the maps.
In the light of this, any story hero who is seeking the beautiful daughter of a distant king must get the directions from the local giant. Once there he must knock on the gigantic door and wait. The giant will answer the door and may not notice that the young man is there. This is the danger. The giant may well step outside to have a look around and could unknowingly tread our hero underfoot. This would effectively end our story.
If the hero survives this encounter, he will be hauled inside to face a one-sided confrontation. The giant will demand our hero work in the kitchen as a dish washer having to man handle huge plates and cutlery taller than himself. He will have to outwit the giant and get the giant’s cooperation. If the giant is particularly nasty, it will occur to the hero to kill the giant, but that is very difficult.
Giants have a special trick for staying alive. They achieve this by keeping their heart outside their body. The giant usually keeps his heart down the bottom of deep and dangerous well, guarded by swarms of vicious wasps. Some giants are so criminal that the only solution for a hero is to kill him. That involves a story in itself.
But our hero usually wants directions and eventually he wins the intellectual contest.
As a reward, the giant lends him a golden ball or a length of magic string. Either guide will get him to his journey’s end or, to the giant’s brother giant in another castle, several leagues away. This means he rolls the ball forward and follows wherever it rolls.
The giants still live amongst us. They are big, ugly, clumsy and all powerful. They are no longer human looking. These days they are disguised as Banks, Governments, Corporate institutions or Religious organisations. All are giants. Banks are probably the most outstanding giants of today. If you knock on their door, you are in danger of being crushed underfoot, or dragged in to work in the basement as a servant of the bank until you die. They will pretend to help you. Unless you are very careful they will help you into a life of poverty. In reaction, you will be tempted to kill the bank, but that is difficult. Banks, like their mythological ancestors, do not keep their hearts within their own body. Each enormous heart is buried in a place such as Fort Knox or Threadneedle Street, and you can’t kill it there without telling a never-ending-picaresque story. So you have to knock on the vast door and carefully outwit this modern giant. Not many heroes can try it and survive, but those who do, make great stories.
Next Week: Beginning your story.