Oscar Wilde was born on 16 October, 1854 at 21 Westland Row, Dublin. He was born to Sir William Wilde and Jane Francesca. His parents were successful Dublin intellectuals. Until he was nine, Oscar Wilde was educated at home. A French borne and a German governess taught him their languages at home. He then attended Portora Royal School in, County Fermanagh. He left Portora with a royal scholarship to read classics at Trinity College, Dublin. He also studied at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a playwright, novelist, essayist, poet and epigrammatist. A brilliant classicist, he won the Newdigate Prize in 1878 for his poem, “Ravenna’. He made himself conspicuous by despising aestheticism and espousing the Aesthetic Movement. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities. He published a book of poems, lectured in the United States of America and Canada on the new “English Renaissance in Art”. Then he returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Wilde was popularly known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversation.
The Importance of Being Earnest, his masterpiece, was published in 1895. He was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In prison, he wrote De Profundis. In this long letter he discussed his spiritual journey through his trials. He went to France when he was released from jail. He never returned to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), along poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty six on 30 November 1900.
Summary in English
The story begins when, Mr Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister purchases Canterville Chase ignoring the warnings of Lord Canterville and other native residents of the place. Lord Canterville sells it to Mr Otis and tells him that the place is haunted by ghosts and supernatural beings. The Otis family includes Mr and Mrs Otis, their daughter Virginia, twin boys and their eldest son Washington. The family does not believe in the existence of ghosts. The American Minister says, “I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation …… I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in Europe, we’d have it at home in a very short time in one of our public museums or on the road as a show.” Mrs Otis sees a dull red stain on the floor by the fireplace and asks Mrs Umney about its significance. She says that “blood has been split on that spot. But Washington Otis says, “That is all nonsense” and he also says that “Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent will clean it up in no time”. In the second chapter Washington changes his opinion when he finds the stain of blood again on the floor. He says, “…… for I have tried it with everything. It must be the ghost.” The family hears clanking chains. They witness reappearing blood stains. They also see peculiar apparitions in various distorted forms. But, surprisingly and humorously, they are not scared.
The United States Minister says, “I have no wish to do the ghost any personal injury …… Upon the other hand if he really declines to use the Rising Sun Lubricator, we shall have to take his chains from him”. The ghost of Sir Simon appears before the family time and again. He changes his appearance every time but fails to frighten any member of the family. Sir Simon is humiliated and tortured by the family. The ghost receives the last blow on 19 September. Sir Simon vanishes into the great iron stove and reaches his room in a terrible state of dirt, disorder and despair. After this incident he is nowhere to be seen again on any nocturnal expedition. Mr Otis writes a letter to Lord Canterville informing him that the ghost of Sir Simon has left the house.
The ghost desires to appear before Virginia’s lover and terrify him. But his terror of the twins confines him to his room. One day Virginia observes the ghost sitting in his room. He feels depressed and lonely. Virginia innocently interacts with him and asks him to behave properly. The ghost tells her that “I must rattle my chains, and groan through keyholes and walk about at night, if that is what you mean. It is my only reason for existing”. The ghost tells the reason of killing his wife to Virginia. Virginia accuses him of being rude, horrid, vulgar and dishonest. She gives the ghost an offer and says “… the best thing you can do is to emigrate and improve your mind”. He tells her that “I have not slept for three hundred years”. He entices her to accompany him so that he may get rid of the present form. She follows him and leaves the Tapestry Chamber. Mrs Otis feels disturbed and perturbed when she does not find Virginia at home. She becomes agitated and annoyed. She is searched everywhere. They eat a melancholy meal. They keep mum and even the twins are awestruck because they are fond of their sister. They fail to find Virginia. When the last stroke sounds they hear a crash and a sudden shrill cry. Virginia, suddenly appears before the family. Mr Otis asks her about her whereabouts. She tells them that “I have been with the ghost. He is dead and you must come and see him. He had been very wicked, but he was really sorry for all that he had done, and he gave me this box of beautiful jewels before he died”. The whole family looks at her in mute amazement. Lord Canterville is the chief mourner and sits in the first carriage with Virginia at the funeral of Sir Simon. Mr Otis requests Lord Canterville to accept the box of jewels but he refuses. Virginia is married to her boy-lover. Sir Simon’s tombstone is built and it is decided to engrave on it simply the initials of the old gentleman’s name and the verse from the library window. Virginia feels that Sir Simon made her realize “What life is, and what death signifies, and why love is stronger than both”.
Summary in Hindi
कहानी शुरू होती है जब Mr. Hiram B. Otis, अमेरिकन मंत्री Canterville Chase को Lord Canterville और अन्य मूल निवासियों की चेतावनी को अनदेखा करके खरीदते हैं। Lord Canterville इसे Mr Otis को बेचते हैं और उसे बताते हैं कि यह जगह भूतों और अलौकिक प्राणियों से पीड़ित है। Otis परिवार में Mr और Mrs Otis, उनके बेटी Virginia,
दो जुड़वाँ लड़के और उनके ज्येष्ठ पुत्र Washington शामिल हैं। यह परिवार भूतों के अस्तित्व में विश्वास नहीं करता। अमेरिकन मंत्री का कहना है, “मैं फर्नीचर और भूत का मूल्यांकन करूंगा. मुझे लगता है कि अगर यूरोप में भूत जैसी कोई वस्तु है, तो हम उसे बहुत कम समय में अपने सार्वजनिक-संग्रहालय या फिर सड़कों पर एक शो के लिए रखेंगे।” Mrs. Otis एक हल्के लाल रंग का धब्बा फर्श पर देखती है और Mrs. Umney से इसके महत्व के बारे में पूछती हैं। वह कहती हैं कि “रक्त उस स्थान पर गिरा दिया गया है लेकिन Washington Otis कहते हैं, “यह सब बकवास है” और यह भी कहते हैं कि Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover और Paragon Detergent bls कुछ ही समय में साफ कर देगें। परन्तु दूसरे अध्याय में Washington की राय बदल जाती है जब वह खून के दाग को बार-बार देखता है। वह कहता है “मैं हर तरह से प्रयास कर चुका हूँ। यह भूत ही होना चाहिए।” यह परिवार चैन बजने की आवाज सुनता है। वे खून के धब्बे बार-बार देखते हैं। उन्होनें अजीब से भूत विभिन्न विकृतियों में देखे। परन्तु, यह हैरत की बात है और हास्यास्पद भी, वे भयभीत नहीं हैं।
संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिकी मंत्री कहते हैं, “मैं भूत को कोई व्यक्तिगत चोट नहीं पहुँचाना चाहता. दूसरी ओर अगर वह Rising Sun Lubricator को इस्तेमाल करने से मना करता है, हमें उसकी चैन उससे छीननी पड़ेगी। Sir Simon का भूत इस परिवार के सामने बार-बार आता है। वह हर बार अपना रूप बदलता है परन्तु इस परिवार के किसी भी सदस्य को डराने में सफल नहीं होता है। Sir Simon को अपमानित और प्रताड़ित किया जाता है। भूत 19 सितम्बर को अंतिम झटका प्राप्त करता है। Sir Simon महान लोहे के स्टोव में गायब होते हैं और गंदगी, विकार और उदासी की हालात में अपने कमरे में पहुँचते हैं। इस घटना के बाद वह किसी अभियान में दिखाई नहीं देता हैं। Mr. Otis, Lord Canterville को पत्र के माध्यम से बताते हैं कि वह भूत घर छोड़ चुका है।
भूत Virginia के प्रेमी के सामने उसे डराने के लिए प्रकट होने का विचार करता है। परन्तु जुड़वां लड़कों के डर से अपने कमरे में ही सीमित रहता है। एक दिन Virginia उसे उसके कमरे में बैठा हुआ देखती है। वह बहुत ही निराश एवं अकेलापन महसूस करता है। Virginia उससे बातचीत करती है और उसे ठीक व्यवहार करने को कहती है। भूत उसे बताता है कि “मुझे चैन की आवाज करना, चाबी के छिद्रों में से चिल्लाना और रात को अवश्य घूमना चाहिए। अगर तुम्हारा मतलब इन सबसे है तो मेरे अस्तित्व का कारण ही यह सब है। भूत Virginia को अपनी पत्नी की हत्या करने का कारण बताता है। Virginia उस पर अशिष्ट, भयंकर एवं बेईमान होने का आरोप लगाती है। वह भूत को एक प्रस्ताव देते हुए कहती है “. सबसे अच्छी चीज जो तुम कर सकते हो वह है प्रदेश चले जाना और अपने दिमाग को ठीक करना। वह उसे बताता है कि “मैं तीन सौ सालों से नहीं सोया हूँ।” वह उसे अपने साथ चलने के लिए आकर्षित करता है ताकि उसे उसकी वर्तमान काया से मुक्ति मिल सके। वह उसके पीछे-पीछे चलती है तथा Tapestry Chamber को छोड़ देती है। Mrs. Otis, Virginia के घर पर न होने पर परेशान हो जाती है। वह उतेजित और नाराज़ हो जाती है। उसे हर जगह ढूंढा जाता है। वे उदासी में भोजन करते हैं। वे चुप रहते हैं और जुड़वाँ लड़के भी अवाकू हो चुके हैं क्योंकि वे अपनी बहन से प्रेम करते हैं। वे Virginia को ढूंढने में असफल रहते हैं। जब आखिरी घण्टे की आवाज सुनाई देती है, तब एक दुर्घटना होने और अचानक एक उकताने वाले रोने की आवाज आती है। Virginia अचानक परिवार के सामने प्रकट होती है। Mr. Otis उससे उसके ठिकाने के बारे में पूछता है। वह उन्हें बताती है कि “मैं भूत के साथ थी। वह मर चुका है। आप आएं और उसे देखे। वह बहुत दुष्ट था, लेकिन वह अपने कर्मों के लिए सबसे माफी चाहता था और उसने मुझे मरने से पहले इन सुन्दर गहनों का डिब्बा दिया।” पूरा परिवार विस्मय की मुद्रा में उसकी ओर देखता रहा। Lord Canterville मुख्य रोने वाले हैं और Sir Simon के अंतिम संस्कार में Virginia के साथ पहली गाड़ी में बैठते हैं Mr. Otis, Lord Canterviller को गहने स्वीकार करने की प्रार्थना करते हैं परन्तु वह मना कर देते हैं। Virginia की शादी उसके प्रेमी के साथ होती है। Sir Simon की समाधि का पत्थर बनता है और यह निर्णय लिया जाता है कि उस पर बस Sir Simon के नाम के शुरुआती अक्षर एवं पुस्तकालय की खिड़की पर लिखी कविता खोद दी जाएगी। Virginia मानती है कि Sir Simon.ने उसे एहसास कराया कि “जीवन क्या है, और मृत्यु की महत्ता क्या है, तथा प्यार दोनों से मजबूत क्यों है।”
The Canterville Ghost is both a parody of the traditional ghost story and a satire on the American way of life. Wilde obviously intends to satirise American materialism, but he pokes fun at English traditional culture as well. The plot is hilarious, but the ending is quiet sentimental. Wilde uses atmosphere and description to create a gothic atmosphere in the story. One of the unique literary devices used by Wilde is his switching of conventional ghost-story narrative.
Purchasing Canterville Chase: At the onset, Horace B. Otis, the brusque American Minister, ignores the warnings of several English friends and buys the haunted Canterville Chase. Lord Canterville desires to sell the home but feels that it is his moral duty to tell Otis stories of skeleton hands and mysterious noises. However, Otis refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts. He avers, “I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation.” He is desirous of keeping the ghost in one of their public museums.
The Persistent Blood Stain: The Otis family moves into the Chase, a Tudor mansion. Mrs. Otis, perturbed by a blood stain in the sitting-room, orders that it be removed at once. But the housekeeper, Mrs. Umney, explains that the blood stain dates back to 1575, the day Lady Eleanore de Canterville was murdered by her husband, Sir Simon, and cannot be removed. Washington Otis, the eldest son, quickly declares that Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent will prove a match for even so historic a stain. Before the housekeeper can stop him, Washington drops to his knees and scrubs out the blood. Thunder and lightening greet his success, and Mrs. Umney faints in fear. The weather becomes monstrous and Mr Otis feels that the old country is so overpopulated that they have not enough decent weather for everybody. He opines, “Emigration is the only thing for England.” Ms Umney regains her consciousness. She is extremely upset and warns Mr Otis to beware of the impending disaster. She also tells the family that she has been a witness to horrible and mysterious incidents, which can terrify any human being. But Mr and Mrs Otis assure her that they are not afraid of ghosts. w
The Ghost Appears: The second chapter starts with Washington’s realisation that there is a ghost in the house. The reappearance of the blood stain on the floor in the library constrains Washington to say that “I have tried it with everything. It must be the ghost”. Each successive morning brings a new stain, and the Otises begin to believe that the Chase really is haunted. Mr Otis also begins to suspect that “he had been too dogmatic in his denial of the existence of ghosts.” Mrs Otis intends to join the Psychical Society.
Several nights later, Mr. Otis awakes to the sound of clanking metal. In the hallway, he encounters a ghost with burning-red eyes, matted hair, and heavy chains. As a practical American, Mr. Otis suggests to the Ghost that Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator will quiet his chains. The Ghost, stunned by this effrontery, is further insulted as the young Otis twin boys throw pillows at his head. The Ghost retires to his chamber and ponders his past glories of terrifying housemaids and driving members of the aristocracy to madness and suicide. He recollects his glorious and uninterrupted career of three hundred years. He remembers Dowager Duchess, Sir William Gull and Lady Stutfield. These characters become the victim of the horrible appearance of the ghost. He feels annoyed and determines to have vengeance. He decides to trouble the modern Americans.
Discussion about the Ghost at the Dinning Table: The ghost’s presence in the house is discussed at breakfast. The United States Minister is a little annoyed. He does not want to do the ghost any personal injury. He also criticises the act of throwing pillows at the ghost. But he says that “if he really declines to use the Rising Sun Lubricator, we shall have to take his chains from him. It would be quite impossible to sleep, with such a noise going on outside the bedrooms.”
The Second Appearance of the Ghost: The ghost again appears before the American family on Sunday night. The members of the family hear a terrible crash in the hall. They find that a large suit of old armour has become detached from its stand. It has fallen on the stone floor. They also observe the Canterville Ghost seated in a high-backed chair. He is rubbing his knees with an expression of acute agony on his face. The twins discharges two pallets on the ghost and the United States Minister covers him with the revolver. The ghost is terrified and goes through them like a mist. On reaching the top of the staircase he recovers himself, and laughs his most horrible laugh. Mrs Otis comes out in a light blue dressing gown. She says, “I am afraid you are far from well, and have brought you a bottle of Doctor Dobell’s tincture.” The ghost looks at her in anger and begins to make preparations for turning himself into a large black dog. But he hears the sound of the approaching footsteps. The twins comes up to him. So, he satisfies himself with becoming faintly phosphorescent and vanishes with a deep growl.
The Third Visit of the Ghost: The ghost does not come out of his room or some days after his second visit. He decides to make a third attempt to frighten the United States Minister and his family. He plans to enter Washington’s room stealthily. He decides to gibber at him from the foot of the bed and stab himself three times in the throat. He bears a special grudge against Washington because he is habitual of removing his bloodstain from the floor. He is determined to teach the twins a lesson. The Canterville Ghost is terrified by an image on that day. The head of the image is bald and burnished. Its face is round, fat and white. From the eyes of this image come rays of scarlet light. The mouth is a wide well of fire. The ghost is terribly frightened to see such a hideous figure. The Canterville Ghost wishes to talk to that figure. He feels surprised to see that something has obviously happened to the spectre. The light has entirely faded from its eyes and the gleaming falchion has fallen from its hand. He desires to get hold of it. But the head of the figure slips off and falls on the ground. The twins horrify him again with the help of the image.
The Ghost’s Predicament: The Canterville Ghost feels exhausted and tired. His nerves are completely shattered. He decides to give up the idea of the bloodstain on the library floor. He conceives, “If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did not deserve it.” The ghost’s problem is to discharge his duties as a supernatural being. It is his solemn duty to appear in the corridor once a week and to gibber from the large oriel window on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. He has no idea how he could ignore his obligations. It is true that his life has been very evil, but he is most conscientious in all things connected with the supernatural. He behaves and acts as per the nature of a supernatural being. o The Ghost’s Severe Fall: The Canterville Ghost does not intend to disturb the American family. He enters Mr Otis’s bedroom and carries off the bottle. He feels humiliated but he knows the bare fact that he does not have the knack to frighten the American family. On one occasion he meets with a severe fall because he treads on a butter-slide. The twins construct it from the entrance of the Tapestry Chamber to the top of the oak staircase. He fails to tolerate this insult and decides to make one final effort to maintain his final dignity and social position. So, he decides to scare the twins in his celebrated character of Reckless Rupert, or the Headless Earl. O Another Scheme of Avenging his Humiliation: The Canterville Ghost is pleased to see himself in the disguise of the Headless Earl. He spends three hours to make his preparations. He glides out of the wainscoting and creeps down the corridor. He wishes to enter the room of the wins. He finds the door just ajar. To make his entrance horrible, he opens the door with jerk. Suddenly a heavy jug of water falls on him. He becomes wet. The jug misses his left shoulder by a couple of inches. He also hears the shrieks of laughter. He gets dejected and frustrated. He leaves no stone unturned to scare them but all in vain.
The Ghost’s Retreat: The ghost does not intend to frighten the family. He gives up all hope to scare them. So, he satisfies himself with creeping in the passages in list slippers. He receives a final blow on 19 September. He goes downstairs to the great entrance hall. He feels that he will not be heard or seen by anyone there. He amuses himself by making satirical remarks on the photographs of the United States Minister and his wife. He is simply but neatly clad in long shrouds. Suddenly two figures attack him and wave their arms wildly above their heads and shout “BOO” in his ear. He gets afraid of them and runs towards the staircase. He meets Washington Otis there with the big garden syringe. The ghost vanishes into the great iron stove and reaches his room in the state of despair.
Virginia’s Confrontation with the Ghost: Virginia finds the door of the Tapestry Chamber open. She enters the room and finds the ghost sitting in a state of dejection. She consoles him and asks him to mend his ways. He says that the reason of his existence is to rattle his chains, groan through keyholes and walk about the night. He tells her the reason of killing his wife. Virginia suggests him to emigrate and improve his mind. Her father will assist him as the officers are all Democrats.
Virginia’s Disappearance: The ghost entices Virginia to accompany him to the Garden of Death. He requests her to weep with him for his sins and pray to the angel of death to have mercy on him. He feels guilty. Virginia is an emotional girl. She is compassionate and pure. She goes with him and disappears from the room.
Virginia’s Search: Mrs Otis does not find Virginia in her room. She gets annoyed and asks everyone to search her. The police inspectors of the county are also informed. Mr Otis thinks that she might be with the gypsies. But she is not found with them. The gypsies are also distressed at hearing of Virginia’s disappearance. The whole family is in grief.
Virginia’s Return: Virginia returns suddenly with a casket in her hand. She tells her family that she has been with the ghost. She also announces that the ghost is dead now. She says, “He is dead, and you must come and see him. He had been very wicked, but he was really sorry for all that he had done, and he gave me this box of beautiful jewels before he died.” The whole family is astounded and amazed. She takes them through the opening of the wainscoting down a narrow secret door. They find a skeleton stretched out at full length on the stone floor. Virginia says that God has forgiven him for his sins.
The Ghost’s Funeral: The ghost’s funeral starts from Canterville Chase. The hearse is drawn by eight black horses, each of which carries on its head a great tuft of nodding ostrichplums and the leaden coffin is covered by a rich purple pall. The whole procession is very impressive. Lord Canterville is the chief mourner and sits in the first carriage along with little Virginia. They are followed by the United States Minister and his wife. Washington and the three boys also join the funeral. Mrs Umney is in the last carriage.
Lord Canterville Refuses to Accept the Jewels: Mr Otis requests Lord Canterville to accept the jewels given by the ghost to Virginia. But he refuses to accept them. He says, “… your charming little daughter rendered my unlucky ancestor a very important service and I and my family are much indebted to her for her marvelous courage and pluck. The jewels are clearly hers….” He also reminds Mr Otis that “you took the furniture and the ghost at a valuation and anything that belonged to the ghost passed at once into your possession.”
Virginia Learns a Lesson: Virginia helps the ghost in attaining salvation. The Canterville Ghost is forgiven by the Almighty because of the innocence and purity of Virginia’s thoughts.
She also feels obliged to the Ghost as she learns a great lesson from him. She says, “He made me see what life is, and what death signifies, and why love is stronger than both.” She came to know about the paramolint significance of love. It is a satire because Wilde parodies the conventional elements of the gothic or ghost story. This may be why Wilde ends the play the way he does, with Sir Simon being helped to rest in peace by Virginia and with Virginia being given the secret of living by Sir Simon.