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The Canterville Ghost’s characters
Main characters: The ghost, Virginia and Mr. Otis
Secondary characters: Washington, Mrs. Otis, the twins, Duke of Chesire and Lord Canterville, Mrs. Umney, gypsies an Rev Augustus Dampier. If we consider this story as a fairy tale, we can define the characters by means of their functions, the typical ones of the traditional stories according to the famous categories devised by Propp and the structural literary analysis.
Characters in chapters 1 to 4
- Protagonist: Mr. Otis
- Antagonist: the ghost
- Object: to turn out the ghost
- Protagonist’s helper: Washington and the twins
- Antagonist’s helper: his supernatural powers
Characters in chapters 5 to 7
- Protagonists: the ghost
- Antagonist: Mr Otis
- Object: the ghost soul’s liberation
- Protagonist’s helper: Virginia
- Antagonist’s helper: his family, excluding Virginia, and the Duke of Chesire
Descriptions of the characters
Lord Canterville belongs to a very old British family who has been the owner of Canterville Chase for three centuries. He sold the haunted house to Hiram Otis after warning him about the ghost.
Mr. Otis is the American Ambassador. He is a very rich man who came from a modern country where everything can be bought with money. He bought Canterville Chase and went there to live with his family. He doesn’t care about the ghost because he doesn’t believe in it.
Mrs. Otis is Hiram Otis’s wife. She had been a well-known New York beauty. She was now a fine-looking middle-aged woman, and in many ways she looked like an English lady.
Washington is the oldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Otis. He was a fair-haired, rather good-looking young man. He was famous as an excellent dancer. He was very sensible.
Miss Virginia was a lovely girl of fifteen, with large blue eyes. She was a good sportswoman and loved to ride horses. Virginia was the only one that didn’t seem to share her brother’s jokes to the ghost.
The Twins were two happy little boys who laughed and shouted a lot. They liked to play tricks on people and were often punished for them.
Mrs. Umney is the housekeeper of Canterville Chase. She is an old woman dressed in black. She greeted the Otis family when they arrived.
The Ghost: Sir Simon the Canterville, the ghost, killed his wife Lady Eleanore the Canterville in 1575. He lived for nine years after that, and then he disappeared very mysteriously. His body was never discovered , but his ghost still haunts the Chase.
He has the ability to change forms so he takes the role of ghostly apparitions.
He has the ability to change forms so he takes the role of ghostly apparitions.
Detailed Character Sketch Of Canterville Ghost Characters
The ghost: The ghost of the castle for centuries. He was Sir Simon de Canterville and died in 1584, his spirit still haunts the Chase. His aspect is very terrible: “He is an old man, his eyes were as red burning coals, long grey hair fell over his shoulders in matted coils, his garments, which were of antique cut, were soiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles and rusty gyves.”
Mr. Otis: The father of the Otis family. He is a middle-aged American minister; he is determinated, inflexible, rational, practical and pragmatic, in conclusion a true American. In fact at the beginning he believes that the ghost doesn’t exist, then, when he personally meets him, he is indifferent: he has more important things to do, making money, for example.
Virginia: “She is a little girl of fifteen, lithe and lovely as a fawn, and with a fine freedom, in her large blue eyes. She is a wonderful amazon. In respect to her family she is kind and with weling heart.” The daughter is the only one in the family who is scared by the ghost. She never speaks except to the ghost, at the end of the story.
Washington: the Otises' oldest son; “he is a fire-haired rather cood-loooking young man; gardenias and peerage are his only weaknesses.”
The twins: “they are usually called The stars and stripes, they are delightful boys and the only true republicans of the family.” These children always play tricks on the ghost and make him depressed and desperate. All along the story, they imagine jokes and even dress up as ghosts.
Mrs Otis: The mother isn't scared of the ghost and even asks him if he wants a remedy for his stomach. “She is a very handsome middle-aged woman with fine eyes and a superb profile. She has a magnificent constitution and a wonderful amount of animal spirits.”
Duke of Chesire: “He is a handsome young scapegrace” desperately in love with the fifteen-year old Virginia Otis. However, his guardians pack him off to Eton, and he must wait to marry. When Virginia vanishes, he insists on being part of the search party. As soon as she reappears, he smothers her with kisses. His devotion is rewarded, and Virginia consents to become the Duchess of Cheshire.
Lord Canterville: A respectable descendent of the Canterville family, that was the owner of the Canterville Chase. “He is an English men of the most pounctilious honour.”
Mrs.Umney: the old house-keeper of Canterville Chase is very terrified by the ghost and tries to warn the family.
Some More Value Points
LORD CANTERVILLE:A member of the English aristocracy, he is a descendant of Sir Simon de Canterville—the old ghost of Canterville Chase. He is described as ‘a man of the most punctilious honour’. This becomes evident when he confesses to Mr. Otis about the presence of a ghost in Canterville Chase. He considers it his duty to warn the American about the ghost in the house that he wishes to buy. This sense of honour is on display once again when he refuses to accept the jewels gifted to Virginia Otis by the ghost.
SIR SIMON THE CANTERVILLE:He is a sixteenth-century ancestor of Lord Canterville. When alive, he murders his wife, Lady Eleanore, for being a poor housekeeper. Later, he is starved to death by his wife’s brothers in retribution for his crime. His skeleton, chained in a little room, is discovered in the late nineteenth century by the American residents of the house. For three hundred years, the disembodied spirit of Sir Simon roams Canterville Chase, haunting and terrorising its inhabitants. He takes especial pleasure in frightening his relations. He goes about his nocturnal expeditions with a strong sense of duty. It is the sole reason for his existence. He takes pride in scaring people to insanity and death. He delights in recalling his long list of victims and his different ghostly attires such as the Blood-Sucker of Bexley Moor, the Headless Earl and Jonas the Graveless.
Mr. HIRAM B. OTIS:He is the American ambassador to the royal court of England. He is a rational and pragmatic American Republican. He comes ‘from a modern country’ which has everything that can be bought. He refuses to believe that Canterville Chase is haunted despite what his acquaintances say. Later, however, after the constant reappearance of the bloodstain in the library, he has to accept the existence of the disembodied spirit.
MRS. LUCRETIA OTIS:She is the wife of the American ambassador to the royal court of England. Before marriage, she was called Miss Lucretia R. Tappan and was well known for her beauty. She is described as ‘a very handsome, middle-aged woman, with fine eyes, and a superb profile’. The author praises her for having ‘a magnificent constitution’ and ‘a really wonderful amount of animal spirits’. He says that on this account she was more English than American.
WASHINGTON OTIS:He is the eldest of the Otis children. We are told that Washington, named after the first President of the United States, does not like his name very much. He is described as ‘fair-haired’, ‘good-looking’ and an ‘excellent dancer’. He is said to display an excessive fondness towards the nobility. This sets him apart from his father who does not approve of titles and the enfeebling influences of the ‘pleasure-loving aristocracy’
VIRGINIA OTIS:She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Otis. She was born in a London suburb ‘shortly after Mrs. Otis returned from a trip to Athens’. She is athletic and free-spirited, with golden hair and large blue eyes. She is a good rider who once raced and beat Lord Bilton. Virginia is shown to have a sense of right and wrong. She censures the ghost for murdering his poor wife. She has a great regard for her family. So, she takes offence when the ghost calls her family ‘horrid, rude, vulgar, dishonest’.
THE OTIS TWINS:They are the youngest members of the Otis family. They study at Eton, an English boarding school. We are told that ‘The Star and Stripes’—a reference to the American flag—is the nickname for the twin brothers. They prove to be the Canterville ghost’s nemeses. They attack him with pillows and pea shooters. They dress up as ghosts to scare him off his wits. They set trip wires and butter slides in different parts of the house to make him fall.
Few More For Character Sketches of the Novel Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
The Ghost Of The canterville chase
The Ghost of the Canterville Chase was the spirit of Sir Simon de Canterville who had murdered his wife in 1584 and later on, after the disappearance of his body in mysterious circumstances, was changed into a ghost due to his guilt and haunted the castle for three centuries. He looked terribly frightful, with eyes as red as burning coals. His long cut grey hair fell over his shoulders. His garments were of antique cut and were soiled and torn. Despite Sir Simon's attempts to appear in the most gruesome guises, the Otis family refuses to be frightened, and Sir Simon feels increasingly helpless and humiliated. Sir Simon schemes, but even as his costumes become increasingly gruesome, his antics do nothing to scare his house guests, and the Otises beat him every time. The ghost reveals to Virginia the tragic tale of his wife, Lady Eleanor de Canterville. Virginia's ability to accept Sir Simon leads to his enlightenment. He believes she is full of love and love is stronger the death.
Mr. B Otis was a middle aged American Minister who was
determined ,inflexible, rational, practical and pragmatic, and a true American.
It is he who bought the Chase from Lord Canterville despite his warnings that it was haunted and he should not go in for it. He had twin sons ,a daughter and a son from her wife Mrs.Otis. At the beginning, like any forward looking modern American, he did not believe in ghosts and spirits but later when he personally encountered the ghost he became indifferent to it.
In fact, upon hearing the clanking noises in the hallway, Mr Otis promptly gets out of bed and pragmatically offers the ghost Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator to oil his chains. He believed in doing many better things and making money than wasting time in talking about it and believing in ghosts and spirits.
He is also a good person who wants to do the right thing. You can tell because he gives Sir Simon a proper funeral, and he makes sure that Virginia gets the box of jewels which Sir Simon had left her. . Other characteristics about him include the fact that he enjoys horseback riding, he seems to be a good husband to Mrs. Otis, and he loves his daughter Virginia.