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Oscar Wilde Collection > The Canterville Ghost - SPOILERS

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message 1: by Renato (last edited Feb 01, 2015 06:31AM) (new)

Renato (renatomrocha) This is the SPOILERS thread for our February 2015 Old School Read of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. If you're sensitive to spoilers (I sure am!), please use this topic instead.

Do not read this thread if you want to avoid spoilers!

Happy reading! :-)


message 2: by Renato (new)

Renato (renatomrocha) As I won't be able to read this one with the group, I'm looking for someone who could volunteer as a discussion leader. It's really not that much of work, take a look at this thread (1st message) to see how you can help me out! Thanks!


message 3: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4959 comments Mod
It’s short in number of pages but long on enjoyment. A pleasant surprise I was expecting Gothic horror and got humor instead. However, I have my doubts about whether this book is a worthwhile pick for a lengthy discussion. Granted Oscar Wilde was brilliant at his craft, but does this short story have any content worth in depth discussion?

We have an English upper class man thinking that an obstinate American should pay heed to his warnings about the ghost that haunts the house the American is about to rent. Our American is thinking that the English are weak minded to even believe in ghosts and should they exist, why be afraid, simply deal with the pest. Finally we do indeed have a ghost, who is indeed powerless, unless his victim is predisposed to fearfully believe ghosts are harmful.

For me the best part of the story occurs toward the end of chapter 5, when we are given more detail of young Virginia and her dealings with the ghost. We are presented with the prophecy that can save the ghost from continued misery, if Virginia has enough courage and faith. This chapter till the end is what sold me on this book. It’s a wonderful short story.

Spoiler Quote:
“Have you ever read the old prophecy on the library window?”

“Oh, often,” cried the little girl, looking up; “I know it quite well. It is painted in curious black letters, and it is difficult to read. There are only six lines:”


When a golden girl can win
Prayer from out the lips of sin,
When the barren almond bears
And a little child gives away its tears,
Then shall all the house be still
And peace come to Canterville.

“But I don’t know what they mean.”

“They mean,” he said sadly, “that you must weep with me for my sins, because I have no tears, and pray with me for my soul, because I have no faith, and then, if you have always been sweet, and good, and gentle, the Angel of Death will have mercy on me. You will see fearful shapes in darkness, and wicked voices will whisper in your ear, but they will not harm you, for against the purity of a little child the powers of Hell cannot prevail.”

Virginia made no answer, and the Ghost wrung his hands in wild despair as he looked down at her bowed golden head. Suddenly she stood up, very pale, and with a strange light in her eyes. “I am not afraid,” she said firmly, “and I will ask the Angel to have mercy on you.”


message 4: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1656 comments I agree that this is a nice surprise since you are expecting a scary ghost kind of thing, and it is something totally different. But it is a short story so there's not a whole lot to say.

I enjoyed the most that the twins essentially defeated the ghost by themselves by picking on him. He was certainly a very sensitive ghost who could dish it out but he couldn't take it. And he ran in terror when he met for the first time what he thought was another ghost. Pretty funny.


message 5: by Arlene (new)

Arlene I enjoyed the whole family non reaction to the ghost.


message 6: by Duane (new)

Duane (tduaneparkeryahoocom) | 296 comments This was laugh out loud funny in spots. I believe Oscar Wilde was just having fun when he wrote this. He's obviously poking fun at the shallow minded, culturally lacking Americans who don't even have the manners to be frightened by a 300 year old ghost. He also jabs at the English and their traditional culture which he refers to as Republican simplicity. There was a bit of sentimentality and romance at the end which I thought was a nice touch.


message 7: by Desertorum (new)

Desertorum This was very different what I thought it would be. But since I´m not a fan of scary ghost stories this was a pleasant surprise for me :) Fun and light read and there was nice little details like the paint that the ghost stole!


message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I read this last year so I don't remember all of the details. I do remember being disappointed. I saw a TV movie when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it. I think this left my expectations at kid enthusiasm levels so it was a let down.


message 9: by Cami (new)

Cami  | 42 comments This was so fun. I laughed out loud at the mischief the twins cooked up to irritate the ghost. I was expecting a creepy gothic ghost story as well and was pleasantly surprised by how fun this was! It is my first Oscar Wilde and I am excited to read more!


message 10: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Cami, I felt exactly the same way, it was fun and I too will be reading more Oscar Wilde.


message 11: by Cami (new)

Cami  | 42 comments If anyone has any suggestions for another Oscar Wilde read for Arlene and I, let us know! :o)


message 12: by Aleta (new)

Aleta | 106 comments Cami, Arlene - I really enjoyed The Importance of Being Earnest (sorry about no link, on phone). It's quite a hilarious play! :) In fact I thought it was even funnier than Canterville Ghost.


message 13: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2384 comments I think his The Importance of Being Earnest was mentioned in the other thread. Definitely read that if you haven't already!

The Picture of Dorian Gray is his most famous one. But it's really serious and dark compared to the play or to this story.


message 14: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Thank you, Aleta I will try that one (no worries about the lack of a link). Melanti, I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is very different from Canterville Ghost, but I did enjoy it.


message 15: by Suzie (new)

Suzie | 85 comments I chuckled a lot reading this, very enjoyable. I thought it was quite witty for the ghost to have certain tasks per month/week!


message 16: by Cami (new)

Cami  | 42 comments Thank you Aleta and Melanti for the Oscar Wilde recommendations! I will be reading both of them! :o) I have seen both movies, but I look forward to reading the original inspiration! :o)


message 17: by Aleta (new)

Aleta | 106 comments I have yet to read Dorian Gray, but it's on my list of classics to get to this year :)


message 18: by Silver (last edited Feb 20, 2015 12:06PM) (new)

Silver | 8 comments I have to admit I had a rather opposite reaction to many other people here to this story. As a lover of Gothic literature, and horror fanatic, and having read The Picture of Dorian Gray (Which I absolutely loved) I was looking forward to this story hoping for a spooky Gothic tale.

While I do love and appreciate Wilde's wit, and don't have an objection to humorous tales in general, I found this one to be a disappointment for me. I really couldn't get engaged in the story, and for me it did in fact feel rather dry.

There were some comical moments, but all in all I didn't really much care about any of the characters, or what happened.


message 19: by Christine (new)

Christine | 1217 comments I could appreciate the humor in this story, but it was a pretty light read. As some others have mentioned, I expected more horror than this story actually contained. The ghost was more comical than scary, especially when confounded by the American family's failure to be afraid of him. It was a fun story, but not one I will sing any praises of.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments This was a light, fun read. Nice and short.


message 21: by Milena (last edited Sep 20, 2017 01:10PM) (new)

Milena | 257 comments This is such a charming story.

I also like the part where Virginia is dealing with the ghost, and I like the story of how the ghost died. It reminds me of Count Ugolino (only for the starving thing). One of my favourite quotations:

“we have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.”


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