Questions from Text Book Solved
Question 1: What is the theme of The Canterville Ghost’?
Answer: The Canterville Ghost is a study in contrast. Wilde takes an American family, and places them in a British setting. Then, through a series of mishaps, he pits one culture against the other. His stereotypical characters represent both England and the United States. He presents each of these characters as comical figures. Wilde satirises both the unrefined tastes of Americans and the determination of the British to guard their traditions. Sir Simon is not a symbol of England, as perhaps. Mrs Umney is, but rather a paragon of British culture. He stands in perfect contrast to Otises. Sir Simon misunderstands the Otises just as they misunderstand him. Wilde clearly wishes to emphasise the culture clash between England and the United States by putting them against each other. Though Wilde tells a humorous tale, but it appears that he also intends to convey a message. He uses fifteen-year-old Virginia for this purpose. Virginia says that the ghost helped her see the significance of life and death, and why love is stronger than both. ‘The Canterville Ghost’ has the theme of life and death to examine the issue of forgiveness.
Question 2: Who is the protagonist of The Canterville Ghost’ and why?
Answer: The story of ‘The Canterville Ghost’ takes place in an old English country house, Canterville Chase, which has the accoutrements of a traditional haunted house. It illustrates Wilde’s tendency to reverse situations into their opposites as the Otises gain the upper hand and succeed in terrorising the ghost rather than be terrorised by him. Wilde pairs this reversal of situations with a reversal of perspective. The ghost story is told not from the perspective of the castle occupants, as in traditional tales, but from the perspective of the ghost, Sir Simon. In this sense, Sir Simon could logically be labelled the “protagonist” in this story, as it is he who faces the challenge of overcoming adversity and bettering his “life”. The ghost tells Virginia that “I have not slept for three hundred years and I am so tired.” He requests her to weep with him for his sins because he has no tears. He also requests her to pray with him for his soul because he has no faith. He says to her, “If you have always been sweet, and good, and gentle, the angel of death will have mercy on me.” His character progresses and faces the music of life. So, the ghost of Sir Simon is the protagonist of the tale.
Question 3: Describe the character traits of Virginia.
Answer: Virginia is a little girl of fifteen. She has blue eyes. She is a lovely and beautiful girl. She is very sensitive, emotional and understanding. Her courage attracts the readers’ attention. She is affectionate and trustworthy. Virginia helps the ghost of Sir Simon to get salvation. She takes him seriously and listens to his problems patiently. She is receptive also. She learns an important lesson as well as the true meaning behind a riddle. She weeps for the ghost, prays for him and disappears with him through the wainscoting. She goes with Sir Simon to the Garden of Death and bids the ghost farewell. Her ability to accept Sir Simon leads her to enlightenment. She understands the mystery of human existence. She dares to accuse the ghost of being rude, vulgar, dishonest and horrid. She also asks him to behave properly. It goes without saying that she is compassionate, sentimental, generous, philanthropic, magnanimous and kind. She is a good natured and soft hearted girl who has all the deific virtues.
Question 4: Draw the character sketch of Mrs Otis.
Answer: Mrs Otis is a veiy beautiful, middle-aged woman. She has been “a celebrated New York belle”. Her eyes are fine, beautiful and attractive. She has a superb profile. Wilde says that “She was quite English”. She does not pay heed to the words of Mrs Umney when she tells about bloodstains. It shows that she is well versed in American culture. She also reflects the culture of her native place when she expresses an interest in joining the Psychical Society to help her understand the ghost. Mrs Otis is very caring and compassionate. She feels agitated and sad when she does not find Virginia in any room of the house. She sends the boys out to look for her. She clasps her passionately in her arms when she reappears before them. The motherly affection and care constrain her to be worried and perturbed at the loss of Virginia. Mrs Otis says, “My own darling, thank God you are found; you must never leave my side again.” She kisses her and smooths the tangled gold of her hair. It reflects that she is affectionate and caring.
Question 5: Describe the character of Sir Simon, the ghost.
Answer: The most interesting character in the story is undoubtedly the ghost of Sir Simon. The ghost leaves no stone unturned to horrify the family of Mr Otis. But he fails in his attempts. He appears before the family in many guises and possible costumes. He may be called a schemer. He plans to enter Washington Otis’s room stealthily. He intends to gibber at him from the foot of the bed and stab himself three times in the throat to terrify him. He also desires to trouble Virginia’s lover. He has guilty conscience and feels sorry for his behaviour. He is a troubled soul that seeks redemption. It is a universally accepted aphorism that appearances are always deceptive. The ghost is called wicked, horrid, troublemaker and dishonest. But he also needs love, affection, support and trust. He feels lonely, isolated and depressed. Virginia has pity on his pitiable condition and learns a lesson pertaining to the paramount significance of love. He gets God’s blessings in the end and his spirit leaves the world of mortals.
Question 6: Who purchases Canterville Chase and from whom? Which significant information does he get from the native residents of the place and the owner of the house?
Answer: Mr Hiram B Otis purchases Canterville Chase from Lord Canterville. Mr Otis is the American Minister. He is told by Lord Canterville that the place is haunted by the ghost. They do not wish to live in the house. The Lord’s grandaunt is frightened into a fit. So they wish to vacate the house. But Mr Otis’s perception is different. He is pragmatic and knows to handle every kind of situation. He says, “I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation. I have come from a modem country, where we have everything that money can buy.” His materialistic and consumerist values constrain him to negate the existence of apparitions and supernatural beings. He, humorously, says “ 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”.
Question 7: Narrate the experiences of the Otis’s family at the time of entering the avenue of Canterville Chase.
Answer: The moment they entered the avenue of Canterville Chase, the sky became suddenly overcast with clouds. A curious stillness prevailed. The scene became horrifying. A great flight of rooks passed silently over their heads. It started raining before they reached the house. Mrs Umney, the housekeeper, welcome them. The sudden changes in weather conditions were frightening and terrible. But they did not heed the bad weather. They were practical people and without emphasizing on those terrible conditions, they entered the house. Mrs Otis caught sight of a dull red stain on the floor just by the fireplace. She could not understand the significance of the bloodstains. But she intended to clean it as she did not like such spots on the floor. She did not have the slightest idea of the ghost because she did not believe in the existence of the supernatural elements.
Question 8: What did Mrs Umney tell about Sir Simon?
Answer: Mrs Umney was the housekeeper. She welcomed the family of Mr Otis at Canterville Chase. When Mrs Otis asked about the significance of bloodstains, she narrated the story of Sir Simon. She told that the blood belonged to Lady Eleanore de Canterville, who was murdered on that very sport by her own husband, Sir Simon de Canterville in 1575. Sir Simon survived her nine years and disappeared suddenly under very mysterious circumstances. His body was never found. He died and his guilty spirit started haunting the Chase. Tormenting the residents of Canterville Chase was his sole aim. The bloodstain was admired by tourists and others. It could not be removed.
Mrs Umney told them the complete story of Sir Simon and the tale associated with the bloodstain. She also warned Mr Otis to beware of some trouble coming to the house.
Question 9: How did Washington Otis react after listening to the story of Sir Simon?
Answer: Washington Otis was the eldest son of Mr Otis. He listened to the story of Mrs Umney patiently and carefully. But he did not believe in that and said, “That is all nonsense”. He couldn’t control himself and applied Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover on the blood stain. Mrs Umney wanted to stop him. But before she could interfere, Washington Otis had started rubbing the floor with a small stick that looked like a black cosmetic. There was no trace of the bloodstain after some time. He became very happy and exclaimed, “I knew Pinkerton would do it”. Members of his family admired him and felt delighted. Washington’s reaction was in consonance with his parents. They did not believe in the existence of spirits. They were very practical beings.
Question 10: When and why did Mr Otis realise that had been dogmatic in his denial of the existence of ghosts?
Answer: On the very first day, Washington Otis removed the bloodstain from the floor. The next morning they found the terrible stain of blood once again on the floor. Washington said, “I don’t think it can be the fault of the Paragon Detergent for I have tried it with everything. It must be the ghost.” He rubbed out the stain again. But it appeared again. It was cleaned on the second day also. Mr Otis himself locked the library and third morning also the blood-stain could be seen. At this moment Mr Otis began to suspect that he had been too dogmatic in his denial of the existence of ghosts. He did not believe in such supernatural beings because of his upbringing. His pragmatic perception and consumer principles did not allow him to think beyond the physical world. The atmosphere in which he was brought up and fed was responsible for his outlook and perspective.
Question 11: Describe the first face to face interaction of Mr Otis and the ghost.
Answer: One day the family of Mr Otis went out to drive. They returned home at 9 o’clock and retired at 11 o’clock. All lights were switched off by half past. Mr Otis was awakened by a curious noise in the corridor. It sounded like the clank of metal. He got up and looked at the time. It was exactly one o’clock. He came out and saw an old man whose eyes were as red as burning coals. Mr Otis offered him a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator to oil his chains. And after putting the bottle down on a marble table the United States Minister closed the door to take rest. The Canterville ghost stood quite motionless in natural indignation. Mr Otis did not get frighten and talk to him without any inhibition. So, their first interaction perturbed the ghost and he was bound to retreat. The family had no fear of the ghost. They slept peacefully in the presence of the ghost.
Question 12: “Never, in a brilliant and uninterrupted career of three hundred years, had he been so grossly insulted”. Substantiate.
Answer: The ghost terrified the residents of Canterville Chase. Lord Canterville sold that house because it was haunted by the ghost. But the American family had no fear of ghosts. Mr Otis appeared before him and asked him to oil his chain. He also provided the ghost with Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator. The Canterville ghost could not digest that humiliation. He dashed the bottle of oil violently upon the polished floor and fled down the corridor uttering hollow groans and emitting a ghastly green light. As he reached the top of the green oak staircase, a door was flung open. Two little figures in white clad emerged and a large pillow whizzed passed his head. The ghost was terrified and vanished through the wainscoting to escape from the impending danger. He recovered his breath after reaching a small secret chamber. The ghost was frightened by the twins of the United States Minister. At this moment he realized that he had never been insulted in such a manner throughout his career of three hundred years.
Question 13: Discuss at least three events in which the Canterville Ghost became successful in frightening the people.
Answer: The ghost terrified Dowager Duchess. She was frightened into a fit as she stood before the glass in her lace and diamonds. The four housemaids were in hysterics when he merely grinned at them through the curtains on one of the spare bedrooms. He also succeeded in horrifying Sir William Gull. He became the victim of nervous disorders. The ghost also influenced Madame de Tremouillac. She saw a skeleton in an armchair by the fire. The skeleton was reading her diary. She became so frightened that she could not leave her bed for six weeks. She also had an attack of brain fever. The ghost enjoyed frightening people. He had the knack to appear in various guises before the mortals. His was the resident of a metaphysical world. He could do incredible things to scare the innocent people. He succeeded in accomplishing his targets for three hundred years. His nuisance was checked by the members of the American family.
Question 14: Describe the second appearance of the ghost before the family.
Answer: The ghost was forced to leave the house in a fit of madness in the first meeting. The second appearance of the ghost was on Sunday night. The members of the Otis family got alarmed by a terrible crash in the hall. They came downstairs and found that a large suit of old armour had become detached from its stand, and fallen on the stone floor. The Canterville ghost was sitting in a high-backed chair. He was rubbing his knees with an expression of agony on his face. The twins discharged two pellets on him and the United States Minister brought his revolver. The ghost started up wild a wild shriek of rage and swept through them like a mist. He laughed his most horrible laugh. The old vaulted roof rang time and again. Suddenly Mrs Otis emerged with a bottle of Doctor Dobell’s tincture. The ghost became angry and made preparations to become a large black dog. But he couldn’t become a dog because of the approaching footsteps. He became faintly phosphorescent and vanished with a groan. He got disappointed and disheartened as he could not frighten them this time also.
Question 15: The ghost felt dejected after his second appearance before the family. Elaborate.
Answer: The ghost was disheartened and depressed after his second appearance in the house. He became a prey to the most violent agitation. He failed to terrify anybody in the family. Mrs Otis brought “a bottle of Doctor Dobell’s tincture”. She said, “If it is digestion, you will find it the most excellent remedy.” These words of Mrs Otis reflect the influence of the ghost’s horrible laughter. The twins attacked the ghosts with pellets and Mr Otis brought his revolver. He was forced to vanish as the twins had come up to him. The vulgarity of the twins and gross materialism of Mrs Otis annoyed him. He could not leave an indelible impression on the Otises. The ghost seemed powerless and his condition became pathetic. His guises and horrible activities could not shake the dogged determination of the American family. It is a law of nature that when a potent man fails to affect the subordinates, he feels frustrated. Frustration causes depression. So, the ghost feels dejected after his second meeting with the Otises.
Question 16: What did the ghost plan for the twins and why?
Answer: The ghost was troubled and humiliated by the twins. So, he was determined to teach them a lesson. He meticulously planned to sit upon their chests so as to produce the stifling sensation of nightmare. The beds of the twins were very close to each other. He decided to stand between them in the form of a green, icy-cold corpse till they became paralysed with fear. Then he would throw off the winding-sheet and crawl round the room with white, bleached bones and one rolling eyeball. He wanted to do this in the guise of “Dumb Daniel, or the Suicide’s skeleton”. He intended to harass them because they attacked him with pillows and discharged pellets on him. The ghost was haunted by the twins time and- again. So he wished to trouble them. His primary objective was to prove his mettle and efficiency as a ghost. It became essential for him to check the twins’ activities.
Question 17: How did he plan to terrify Washington and Mrs Otis?
Answer: The ghost had appeared in the house twice. He had confronted the American family two times. Both times he retreated. So he was desirous of taking revenge. He planned to enter Washington Otis’s room quietly and gibber at him from the foot of the bed. He decided to stab himself three times in the throat. He wanted to terrify him because Washington was habitual of removing the famous Canterville bloodstrain by means of Pinkerton’s Paragon Detergent. He wished to leave him in a condition of abject terror. After tormenting Washington he was then to proceed to the room of Mrs Otis. He planned to place a clammy hand on her forehead. He also desired simultaneously to hiss into her trembling husband’s ear the awful secrets of the chamet house. He aspired to attain success in this mission so that his earthly existence in the world of mortals may gain recognition. His guilty spirit did not want to lose identity. He was determined to avenge his insult and humiliation.
Question 18: How did the Canterville Ghost react at the sight of the horrible spectre?
Answer: The Canterville Ghost appeared in the house the third time. This time he got surprised and perplexed to see a horrible spectre. He confronted “a spectre, motionless as a craven image and monstrous as a madman’s dream”. Its head was bald and burnished. Its face was round, fat and white. The hideous laughter of the image seemed to have writhed its features into an eternal grin. Its mouth was a wide well of fire. The rays of scarlet light streamed from its eyes. Its hideous garment swathed with its silent snows the Titan form. It had a placard on its breast. It was the record of wild sins and the awful calendar of crime. It bore aloft a falchion of gleaming steel. The Canterville ghost got terribly frightened. He looked at the awful phantom again and flew back to his room. He dropped his rusty dagger into the Minister’s jack-boots. He could not muster the courage to face the phantom. He reached his private room, flung himself down on a small pallet bed and hid his face under the clothes. Such was his reaction.
Question 19: “If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did not deserve it.” Elaborate.
Answer: Mr Otis bought Canterville Chase irrespective of knowing the fact that it was haunted by a ghost. The very first day the family observed the bloodstain in the library. They cleaned that stain. But it reappeared time and again. They felt convinced that it was the work of the ghost. The family disturbed the peace of mind of the ghost. The twins attacked him with pillows and discharge pellets on him. Mrs Otis offered him medicines and Mr Otis asked him to oil his chains.
They did not have any fear of the ghost. He was also terrified by another ghost. He was tricked, foiled and outwitted. It was the pinnacle of absurdity to make efforts to terrify the family. He became very weak and felt exhausted. The terrible excitement of the last four weeks affected his nervous system. His nerves were completely shattered. He confined himself to his room for five days and gave up the thought of the bloodstain on the library floor. He perceived, “If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did not deserve it”.
Question 20: In which disguise the Cartterville ghost planned to appear before the twins? And why?
Answer: The Canterville Ghost had dropped the idea of troubling the family with the bloodstain on the library floor. He thought “If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did not deserve it.” But it was 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 in every month. He failed to understand how he could honourably escape from his obligations. He traversed the corridor stealthily. He did not wish to disturb the family. On one occasion, while dressed for the part of “Black Issac, or the Huntsman of Hogley Woods,” he met with a severe fall, through treading on butter-slide, which the twins had constructed from the entrance of the Tapestry Chamber to the top of the oak staircase. This humiliation enraged him. He resolved to make one more effort to assert his dignity and social position. He decided to visit the twins in his celebrated character of “Reckless Rupert, or the Headless Earl”.
Question 21: Narrate the story of Lady Barbara Modish.
Answer: The Canterville Ghost frightened Lady Barbara Modish with the help of his celebrated character of “Reckless Rupert, or the Headless Earl”. She broke off her engagement with Lord Canterville’s grandfather. She eloped with Jack Castletown to Gretna Green.
She also declared that she would not marry the person who had allowed such a horrible phantom to walk up and down the terrace at twilight. Jack was afterwards shot in a duel by Lord Canterville on’ Wardsworth Common. Lady Barbara died of a broken heart at Tunbridge Wells within a year. Lady Barbara’s life became miserable and full of gloom solely because of the Canterville ghost. His fear forced her to marry Jack.
Question 22: “The only thing that at all consoled him in the whole affair was the fact that he had not brought his head with him, for, had he done so, the consequences might have been very serious.” Discuss.
Answer: The Canterville ghost endured humiliation and disrespect. He couldn’t scare any member of the family. He resolved to make one last effort to maintain his dignity and social position. He appeared before the twins in his celebrated character of “Reckless Rupert or the Headless Earl”. It took him three hours to make his preparations. He glided out of the wainscoting at a quarter past one. He found the door of their room half open. To make his entrance effective, he flung the door wide open. Suddenly a heavy jug of water fell right down on him, he became wet. It missed his left shoulder by a couple of inches. He also heard stifled shrieks of laughter. He was so shocked that he fled back to his room. The next day he suffered from cold. At this moment he felt that there was only one thing that could console him. It was the fact that “he had not brought his head with him.”
Question 23: What final blow did the ghost receive on 19 September?
Answer: The ghost had given up all hope of ever frightening the rude American family. He decided to creep about the passage in list slippers, with a thick red muffler round his throat for fear of draughts and a small arquebuse to safeguard himself from the attack of twins. On 19 September he went downstairs to the great entrance hall. He felt that he would not be molested and humiliated there. He started amusing himself making satirical remarks on the large Saroni photographs of the United States Minister and his wife. He was simply but neatly clad in a long shroud. He carried a small lantern and a sixton’s spade. When he was strolling towards the library to see the position of the bloodstain, suddenly two figures/twins attacked him from a dark comer. They waved their arms wildly above their heads and shrieked out “Boo!” in his ear. He retreated in panic. He ran towards the staircase, but found Washington Otis with a big garden-syringe. He safeguarded himself by vanishing into the iron stove and reached home through the flues and chimneys in a terrible state of dirt, disorder and despair.
Question 24: Why did the Canterville Ghost decide to terrify Virginia’s lover? Which attire did he plan to use and why? Why could he not execute the plan?
Answer: The Otises were sure that the ghost was not in the house. But he was present there in the state of depression. He heard about the young Duke of Cheshire. The Canterville Ghost remembered the incident of Lord Francis Stilton, granduncle of the Duke of Cheshire. He made Stilton paralytic and wanted to uphold this practice. His influence over the Stiltons encouraged him to terrify the Duke. He made arrangements for appearing to Virginia’s lover in his celebrated impersonation of “The Vampire Monk or the Bloodless Benedictine”. He had seen successfully tormented lady startup in this disguise. She went off into the most piercing shrieks, which culminated in violent apoplexy and died in three days. He wished to get same result of the disguise again so that Stiltons may not forget him. He could not execute this plan because of the terror of the twins. The little Duke slept peacefully without any problem.
Question 25: Where does Virginia see him? What does she notice?
Answer: Virginia is surprised to see someone in the Tapestry Chamber. She expects her mother’s maid there. But she finds the Canterville Ghost inside the room. He is sitting by the window. He watches the ruined gold of the yellowing trees. His head is leaning on his hand. He looks sad, depressed and alienated. He is so lost in melancholy that he does not notice Virginia in the room. She takes pity on him and intends to console him. She notices the ghost’s pathetic condition and could not control her emotions.
Question 26: What was the ghost’s reply when Virginia asked him to behave to avoid any inconvenience?
Answer: Virginia innocently entered the room where the Canterville Ghost was lamenting and cursing his lot. Virginia took pity on him and asked him to mend his ways. But he replied, “It is absurd, asking me to behave myself.” He further stated, “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.” It was not possible for him to be against his nature and the general tendency of ghosts. He existed to trouble people and to perform incredible activities. He could not help him. Nature cannot be changed. Its laws are universal and fixed. As human nature can’t be changed, the nature of ghosts also can’t be changed. He worked according to the principles of his community and the way people treated him. So, his reply could not satisfy Virginia.
Question 27: “It is very wrong to kill anyone.” Who said this and to whom? What reply was given by the listener?
Answer: Virginia said this to the Canterville Ghost. She was kind and sympathetic. So she told the ghost that killing someone was unethical. The ghost killed his wife and troubled people. He said, “I hate the cheap severity of absurd ethics.” He told her that his wife did not know anything about cookery. She never had his ruffs properly starched and he accused his brothers-in-law of starving him to death. The ghost could not get a good life partner. They did not have any telepathy. He lost his temper and killed her. People did not treat him well. Se he also became the same. It is rightly said, “Love begets love.” He reciprocated hate because he got hatred from the humans.
Question 28: What advantages did Virginia tell the Canterville Ghost to become a family ghost in America?
Answer: Virginia asked the Canterville Ghost to emigrate and improve his mind. Her father would help the ghost. Mr. Otis would be happy to give the ghost a free passage. She told the ghost that there was a heavy duty on spirits. But the officers at Custom House were all Democrats so they would follow her father’s instructions. There would be no difficulty at the Custom House. She confidently told the ghost that he would be a grand success in America. She knew lots of people in America who would give a hundred thousand dollars to have a grandfather and much more than to have a family ghost. It would be better for the ghost to go there and enjoy peace of mind. He would reach their easily and earn. But the ghost did not accept her proposal. He despised America because of their navy and manners.
Question 29: Describe the Garden of Death.
Answer: The Garden of Death is the place where the dead beings enjoy sound sleep. He said “Far away beyond the pine woods, there is a little garden. There the grass grows long and deep, there are the great white stars of the hemlock flower, there the nightingale sings all night long. All night long he sings, and the cold crystal moon looks down, and the yew-tree spreads out its giant arms over the sleepers.” The ghost described the graveyard in a beautiful way. He wanted to sleep under the ground. In graveyard the grass, bushes and shrubs become long. The silence of the graveyard gives peace to all its denizens, who are buried there. Nature has the knack to give solace to all mortals. The spirits enjoy in their graves and relish in the lap of nature. The Canterville ghost also expected to lie under the ground pacifically. He did not have any will to roam in the air. He wanted to get rid of his present state.
Question 30: How did Virginia help the Canterville Ghost to escape from his present state?
Answer: Virginia was compassionate, sympathetic and polite. She never troubled the ghost. She only helped him in getting rid of present obstacles and sufferings. She wept for the ghost’s sins so that the Almighty might have mercy on the ghost. She prayed for the ghost so as to ascertain the ghost’s freedom from bondage. The evil powers of the Hell could not harm Virginia as she was sweet, good, gentle and pure. Her purity of thoughts gained happiness fbr the Canterville ghost. Horrible animals with lizard tails and goggle eyes warned her. But she disappeared with the ghost and returned happily. She also organised a grand funeral for the ghost. Eventually, the Canterville Chase got rid of the ghost.
Question 31: Why did Mrs. Otis become agitated?
Answer: Mrs Otis sent the footmen to call Virginia. The servant returned to tell that he could not spot Virginia anywhere. Mrs Otis thought that she might have gone to the garden to bring flowers for the dinner-table. When six o’clock struck, Mrs Otis got worried about Virginia. She could not find her anywhere in the house. She sent the boys out to look for her. Mr. Otis searched every room in the house. But they could not find her. Mrs Otis became agitated as Virginia was lost. There was no sign of her presence in the Canterville Chase.
Question 32: What did Mr. Otis find at the place where the gypsies had pitched their tents? Where were they found? Did they know about the whereabouts of Virginia?
Answer: Virginia disappeared from the Canterville Chase. All the members of the family were worried about her. Mr. Otis reached the place where gypsies had pitched their tents. He found that the gypsies had gone. It was evident that their departure had been rather sudden as the fire was still burning. Some plates were also lying on the grass. Mr. Otis suspected them and dispatched telegrams to the police inspectors. The gypsies were caught on Brockley meadows. But Virginia was not with them. The reason of their sudden departure was Chorton Fair. When they got the information of Virginia’s disappearance, they got distressed. They also helped Mr. Otis in searching Virginia. Four of their members stayed behind to help in the search. Not the slightest trace of Virginia was discovered.
Question 33: What did Virginia tell about the ghost after her return to Canterville Chase?
Answer: Virginia accompanied the Canterville Ghost to give him solace. She disappeared from the human world. She returned at the last stroke with a little casket in her hand. She told her father that she had been with the ghost. She said, “He is dead, and you must come and see him. He had been veiy wicked, but he was very sony for all that he had done, and he gave me this box of beautiful jewels before he died.” She told them that the ghost was a noble soul and he apologized for his misdeeds and arrogance. Virginia had an indelible impression on her mind and she could never forget the lesson that she learnt from the Canterville ghost. She also tried her level best to convince the members of her family that the ghost felt guilty and ashamed of his ill deeds and evil doings.
Question 34: Where did Virginia take the members of her family through wainscoting? What did they see there?
Answer: The whole family was astounded when Virginia narrated the story of her disappearance. She led the members of her family through the opening in the wainscoting down a narrow secret corridor. They reached a great oak door which was studded with rusty nails. When Virginia touched it, it swung back on its heavy hinges. They found themselves in a little low room. It had a vaulted ceiling and a tiny grated window. A huge iron ring was embedded in the wall. A gaunt skeleton was chained to it. The skeleton was stretched out at full length on the stone floor and seemed to be trying to grasp with its long fleshless fingers, an old fashioned trencher and ewer. They were placed just out of its reach. They saw a jug there. It had evidently been once filled with water as it was covered with green mould. There was nothing on the trencher except a pile of dust. Virginia knelt down beside the skeleton. She folded her hands and began to pray silently. The other members of the family looked on in wonder at the terrible tragedy whose secret was disclosed to them.
Question 35: Describe the funeral of Sir Simon.
Answer: The funeral of Sir Simon started from Canterville Chase at about eleven o’clock at night. The hearse was drawn by eight black horses. The coffin was covered by a rich purple pall. It was embroidered in gold the Canterville coat-of-arms. By the side of the hearse and the coaches walked the servants with lighted torches. The whole procession was astonishingly impressive. Lord Canterville was the chief mourner. He came from Wales to attend the funeral. He sat in the first carriage along with little Virginia. Then came the United States Minister and his wife. They were followed by Washington Otis. Then came the twins. Mrs. Umney was in the last carriage. A deep grave was dug in the comer of the churchyard under the old yew-tree. The service was read in the most impressive manner by the Rev Augustus Dampier.
Question 36: Why did Mr. Otis request to Lord Canterville to accept the jewels? What was his reply?
Answer: Mr. Otis requested Lord Canterville to accept those beautiful and valuable jewels. He opined that those jewels were Lord Canterville’s ancestral property. He also told that his daughter was merely a child. She had little interest in such appurtenances of idle luxury. Lord Canterville listened patiently and thoughtfully to the worthy Minister’s speech. He said that Virginia rendered his unlucky ancestor, Sir Simon, a very important service. He averred that he and his family were indebted to Virginia’s marvellous courage and pluck. The jewels were hers. He said that if took the jewels, the wicked old fellow Sir Simon “would be out of his grave in a fortnight, leading me the devil of a life.” He said “As for their being heirlooms, nothing is an heirloom that is not so mentioned in a will or legal document.” He assured Mr. Otis that he had no claim on them. He recollected Mr. Otis’s words and reminded him of the same. At the time of purchase Mr. Otis “took the furniture and the ghost at a valuation.” So, anything that belonged to the ghost belonged to Mr. Otis.
Question 37: Throw some light on the plot of The Canterville Ghost.
Answer: The Canterville Ghost reflects the cultural differences between America and Britain. It is a study in contrast. An American family is placed in the British milieu. The story starts when Mr Otis’s family migrates to Canterville Chase. Lord Canterville considers it his moral responsibility to make Mr Otis aware of the bare fact that Canterville Chase is haunted by ghosts. But he did not heed the fact. His family comprises his wife, their daughter Virginia, twin boys and their eldest son Washington Otis. No member of the family believes in the existence of ghosts. But the reappearance of the bloodstain forces them to believe in the work of apparitions and evil spirits. Sir Simon visits them in various disguises but fails to scare them. Moreover, they disturb the ghost’s peace of mind. The ghost feels afraid of coming out of his room because of the terror of twins. He feels lonely and distressed. Virginia helps him in sleeping in the grave. He apologizes for his deeds and leaves the world of mortals. He gets rid of the present form solely because of Virginia.
During the course of the story, as narrated by Sir Simon, the reader comes to understand the complexity of the ghost’s emotions. He is brave, frightening, distressed, scared and finally depressed and weak. He expresses his vulnerability during an encounter with Virginia. The story illustrates Wilde’s tendency to reverse situations into the opposites as the Otises gain the upper hand and succeed in terrorising the ghost rather than be terrorised by him.