Chapter 5 The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

Meet the Author

  • Oscar Wilde was an Irish novelist, poet and playwright.
  • Born: 16 October 1854
  • Place of Birth: Ireland
  • Died: 30 November 1900
  • Best Known for: Oscar Wilde is known for his comedy. It is visible in this story as well. He is highly praised for his novel titled “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde

Share this with your Class


Introduction to the Story

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde is a humor take on the horror genre. The author turns the usual horror trope into something worth laughing about.

The American man named Hiram B Otis buys Canterville Chase, which is an English country house. He was warned about the presence of the ghost by Lord Canterville. Even then he decided to buy that house and soon moved in with his family.

Immediately as they moved in Mrs. Otis noticed a big blood stain on the floor. The housemaid informs Mrs. Otis that it is the evidence of the ghost and the unnatural deaths and murders that occurred years back.

However, Mrs Otis was determined to remove the stain from the floor. Her son suggests Pinkerton's Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent to remove the blood stain.

Unlike the usual ghost story narratives, here the characters are looking at things in a logical manner. They do not get drawn away by the supernatural, rather they try and incorporate this supernatural in their daily life.

Soon, at night, the ghost decides to make the first appearance. But Mr. Otis offers him Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator to oil his rusted chains that make noise. Ghost is completely startled at this response.

Summary of the Chapter

The Chapter begins midway into the story. The ghost who is a noble, is desperate to scare the American family. But all his attempts backfire.

Chapter IV

The ghost was getting tired as he was attempting to scare them for the past four weeks. The ghost himself was getting nervous and scared through their actions.

His nerves were completely shattered and he started at the slightest noise.

He decided to remove the bloodstain on the library floor. He came to the conclusion that if the Ottis family did not want it then they did not deserve it. He consoled himself by stating that they are not the kind of people who appreciated the value of any sensuous phenomenon. Since, the family only thought rationally they could not appreciate or get involved in the paranormal activities the ghost was trying to perform.

Even though the ghost was evil in his lifetime he was dedicated to the work he did. Due to his commitment he walked all Saturdays on the corridors between midnight and three o'clock. During his routine walk he made sure to take precaution to never be heard or seen. He used the “Rising sun lubricator” for oiling his chains. He had taken this bottle the other night when the family was having dinner. He was ashamed to use the lubricator but he soon understood the value of this invention and the need for it in his survival.

Even after taking these precautions he had to face humiliation. The strings were pulled across the corridors which made him fall. At times, he fell down due to the butter-slide placed by the twins.

Still in spite of everything, he was not left unmolested. Strings were continually being stretched across the corridors…

In the last fall, he decided to regain his authority over the castle and show these humans what he was capable of doing. He turned into his favorite character which was the Headless Earl. He took three hours to prepare for this role. He was happy to see himself in the character. At quarter-past one he went out and roamed around in the corridor, headless.

He headed straight to the twin’s room. The door was not closed which made it an easy entrance. Alas, the kids threw a jug of water at him. It gave a shock to his nervous system. He ended with a severe cold the next day. He found comfort in the fact he did not carry his head along. Or else the consequences might have been severe. He now gave upon his attempts to frighten his rude American family. He tried to console himself by simply creeping about in the corridors.

The next day he was taking his usual stroll. He was making sarcastic comments on the picture of the US Minister and wife that had taken the place of the Canterville Family picture. He was dressed as the Corpse-Snatcher of Chertsey Barn. He was very proud of his outfit. The time was about a quarter past two. There were no signs of the family. He wanted to check the blood stains on the library floor and headed to the library. Suddenly, the twins jumped in front of him and scared him to death. He ran to the staircase.

Seized in panic, which, under the circumstances, was only natural, he rushed for the staircase.

Through the tale of the Canterville ghost the author Oscar Wilde is taking a twist on the field of horror by making it humorous through the logical actions of humans. The author also provides all human emotions to his ghost making it stand out from the rest of the horror stories of the time.

Oscar Wilde statue at Dublin
Oscar Wilde statue at Dublin

Share this with your Class


Bonus Info


The aristocratic family member was called a nobel in England during the middle ages.

Graphic Novels

Graphic novels usually consist of comic stories. The story is narrated through graphic images.

Get Personalized Tuitions

We offer premium education on a personalized level. Online tuition for all grades, tailor-made!

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

The Otis family moved to Canterville Castle despite the warning from the previous owners. Mr and Mrs. Otis had a daughter and two boys who were twins. They used logic and intellect to describe and explain the supernatural elements and happenings in the house. This American family was extremely rude and brutal to the ghost and his tricks. Nothing seemed to scare them as they did not believe in ghosts. They even offered lubricating oil to the ghost to oil his noisy chains. Finally, the ghost got scared of the family and decided to never interfere with the family.

The ghost was frustrated as the family did not get scared of his tricks. He had made a blood stain on the library corridor to scare the family. Mrs. Otis was not afraid to see the blood stain but instead she tried to wash away the stain. Similarly, all his tricks did not work on the family rather they started to mock and make fun of him. This frustrated him.

Oscar Wilde has painted the character of the Canterville ghost like a human. He gets upset when the family is not scared and instead plays tricks on him. In fact he gets scared at the end of the story. The ghost in the story has all the human emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness. He also feels humiliated and decides to give up on his attempts to scare this American family.