Giant Despair: MBOSE Class 11 English Core notes, answers

Giant Despair mbose
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF of Class 11 English Core textbook (Resonance), chapter 4. Giant Despair by John Bunyan which is part of the syllabus of students studying under MBOSE (Meghalaya Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed.

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The story “Giant Despair” by John Bunyan, from “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” narrates the plight of Christian and Hopeful, two pilgrims who find themselves trespassing on the grounds of Doubting Castle, owned by Giant Despair. Upon discovering them, Giant Despair captures and imprisons them in a dark, filthy dungeon without food or water. The prisoners endure severe physical and emotional suffering, exacerbated by Christian’s guilt for leading them into this predicament.

Giant Despair, advised by his wife Diffidence, initially beats the pilgrims and later suggests they end their lives to escape their misery. Despite their torment, Hopeful persuades Christian not to commit suicide, emphasizing that murder, even of oneself, is against their faith. He reminds Christian of the hardships they have already overcome and encourages patience and hope for eventual rescue.

Throughout their imprisonment, the giant continues to harass them, showing them the bones of his previous victims to instill fear. However, Hopeful maintains his resolve, urging Christian to stay strong. On the third night, after praying fervently, Christian remembers a key called Promise, which he believes can unlock any door in the castle. Using this key, they manage to escape their dungeon, the castle yard, and the iron gate, making their way back to the King’s highway and safety.

Their escape is aided by one of Giant Despair’s fits, which immobilizes him and prevents pursuit. The story concludes with Christian and Hopeful regaining their freedom and continuing their journey, symbolizing the triumph of faith and perseverance over despair and hopelessness. This allegorical tale underscores the importance of resilience, faith, and the belief in divine intervention to overcome life’s trials.

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Textual questions and answers

Fill in the blanks

1. When Giant Despair woke up in the morning, he saw _______ sleeping in his grounds.

Answer: Christian and Hopeful

2. The sight of Christian and Hopeful sleeping made the giant _______.

Answer: angry

3. When questioned, Christian and Hopeful informed the giant that _______.

Answer: they were pilgrims and had lost their way

4. The giant complained that they had _______.

Answer: trespassed on his grounds

5. The dungeon Christian and Hopeful were put in was _______ and _______.

Answer: dark and stinking

6. It was actually _______ that had now brought them to _______ this dungeon.

Answer: unadvised counsel, distress

7. Giant Despair was advised by his wife to _______.

Answer: beat them without mercy

8. Christian and Hopeful spent the first night in the dungeon _______.

Answer: in sighs and bitter lamentations

9. On their third day in the dungeon, Giant Despair suggests that _______.

Answer: they should make an end of themselves

10. The references to Apollyon and the Valley of the Shadow _______ of Death show us that Christian had been _______.

Answer: brave and heroic

State whether true or false

1. Christian never gave up hope and courage.

Answer: False

2. Prayer helps you to regain confidence and hope.

Answer: True

3. Giant Despair always acted independently.

Answer: False

4. The path to the Heavenly Kingdom is easy to cross.

Answer: False

Answer these questions briefly

1. Why were Christian and Hopeful far from ‘friends and acquaintances’?

Answer: They were far from friends and acquaintances because they were in a very dark dungeon, nasty and stinking to their spirits.

2. What did Christian and Hopeful say to the giant when he suggested that they should end their lives?

Answer: They desired him to let them go.

3. Why was Christian saying that he would rather die?

Answer: Christian was saying that he would rather die because the life they were leading was miserable and the grave seemed easier than the dungeon.

4. How did Hopeful convince Christian not to end his life?

Answer: Hopeful convinced Christian not to end his life by reminding him that it is forbidden to commit murder, even upon oneself, and that God might yet provide a way for them to escape.

5. Do you think Christian had faced trying experiences before meeting Giant Despair – how do you know this?

Answer: Yes, Christian had faced trying experiences before meeting Giant Despair, as evidenced by Hopeful’s reminder of Christian’s valiant behavior against Apollyon and in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

6. How did the giant threaten Christian and Hopeful on Saturday?

Answer: The giant threatened Christian and Hopeful by showing them the bones and skulls of those he had already despatched and told them he would tear them in pieces within ten days.

7. How did Christian react to all the torture the giant inflicted on him before he prayed?

Answer: Christian was filled with fears and seemed to contemplate ending his life, but was moderated by Hopeful’s counsel.

8. What kind of a change came about in Christian after he prayed?

Answer: After he prayed, Christian remembered the key in his bosom called Promise, which he believed would open any lock in Doubting Castle, leading to their escape.

Answer these questions in detail

1. What do you think the journey of Christian and Hopeful represents-life/faith/hope/seeking?

Answer: The journey of Christian and Hopeful represents the spiritual journey of faith.

2. How does the story tell us that finally Christian had awakened to his spiritual calling?

Answer: The story tells us that finally Christian had awakened to his spiritual calling when he remembered the key called Promise in his bosom, which symbolises his realisation of the power of faith and God’s promises.

Beyond the text

1. What do you think happens to a person when his spirit is restored by faith?

Answer: When a person’s spirit is restored by faith, they gain renewed strength, hope, and the courage to overcome challenges and adversities. Faith provides a sense of purpose and direction, allowing the individual to face difficulties with resilience and a positive outlook.

2. Prayer gives strength and hope. Does this story justify this statement? How?

Answer: Yes, this story justifies the statement that prayer gives strength and hope. In the story, Christian and Hopeful are in a dire situation, but after they pray, Christian remembers the key called Promise. This leads to their escape from Doubting Castle, demonstrating how prayer can lead to renewed strength, hope, and solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.

Appreciating form and language

This is a story whose characters and incidents are intended to convey a meaning other than the literal one, implying a moral lesson. Such a story is called an allegory. An allegory is a story, play or poem in which the events and characters function as symbols to express a moral, religious or political idea. One of the most famous examples of allegory in English Literature is the Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. The story Giant Despair is taken from it. (For a summary of the storyline of The Pilgrim’s Progress, refer to the section Learning Support.)

Name all the characters in the story and explain what each character symbolises.

Answer: Here are the characters in the story “Giant Despair” and their symbolic meanings:

  • Christian: Represents the individual believer on a spiritual journey. He struggles with doubts and temptations but ultimately finds strength and hope through faith.
  • Hopeful: Represents the unwavering faith and optimism that guides the believer through difficult times. He encourages Christian and helps him to overcome despair.
  • Giant Despair: Represents the forces of doubt, fear, and hopelessness that can threaten to overcome the believer’s faith. He embodies the darkness and despair that can plague the spiritual journey.
  • Diffidence: Represents the inner doubts and insecurities that can undermine faith. She reinforces Giant Despair’s cruel plans and encourages him to crush Christian and Hopeful’s spirits.
  • The Lord of the Country: Represents God, the ultimate destination and source of hope for the believer. He is the one who ultimately rescues Christian and Hopeful from Giant Despair.
  • Promise (the Key): Represents the promises of God and the power of faith to unlock the doors of doubt and despair.


1. When Christian’s courage is restored by faith and hope, he feels that he can unlock even the toughest of doors and locks. He does finally manage to get away from the Doubting Castle. Do you think the names Christian, Hopeful and Doubting Castle represent the state of mind of a believer who is in the process of acquiring complete faith in God? Write your own interpretation of the message from this story.

Answer: The names Christian, Hopeful, and Doubting Castle indeed represent the states of mind of a believer who is in the process of acquiring complete faith in God. Christian signifies a person who follows the path of faith, Hopeful represents the optimism and belief in divine intervention, and Doubting Castle symbolizes the obstacles and uncertainties that challenge one’s faith. The message from this story is that even in the darkest times of doubt and despair, faith and hope can provide the strength to overcome any difficulties. The journey of Christian and Hopeful illustrates the power of unwavering belief and the ultimate triumph of the faithful over despair.

2. ‘On Saturday, about midnight, they began to pray and continued in prayer till almost break of day.’

a. What happens to Christian after he prays?

Answer: After Christian prays, he realizes that he has a key called Promise in his bosom that can unlock any door in Doubting Castle.

b. Do you think that the author is communicating a message to his readers through the change he shows in Christian after he prays? What is it?

Answer: Yes, the author is communicating a message through the change in Christian after he prays. The message is that faith and prayer can provide enlightenment and solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Through prayer, Christian gains the clarity and strength needed to escape his predicament, highlighting the transformative power of faith.

Extra fill in the blanks

1. When Giant Despair woke up in the morning, he saw ________ and ________ sleeping in his grounds. (Christian/Hopeful)

Answer: Christian, Hopeful

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15. After praying, Christian remembered he had a key called ________ that could open any lock in Doubting Castle. (Promise/Hope)

Answer: Promise

Extra true or false

1. Giant Despair caught Christian and Hopeful asleep in his grounds.

Answer: True

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16. Christian and Hopeful escaped from Doubting Castle by using the key Promise.

Answer: True

Extra question and answer

1. What is the name of the castle where Christian and Hopeful were captured?

Answer: Doubting Castle.

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20. What does the story of Christian and Hopeful in Doubting Castle symbolize in a broader context?

Answer: The story of Christian and Hopeful in Doubting Castle symbolizes the struggles and challenges faced by believers in their spiritual journey. Giant Despair represents the feelings of hopelessness and doubt that can imprison individuals, making them feel trapped and isolated. Diffidence symbolizes the discouraging thoughts that exacerbate despair. The key Promise signifies faith and the divine assurances that provide the means to overcome these spiritual trials. The escape from the dungeon illustrates the power of faith, hope, and prayer in overcoming despair and finding freedom in the path of spiritual enlightenment. This allegory underscores the importance of perseverance, trust in divine promises, and the support of fellow believers in overcoming life’s adversities.

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