Review: The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

The Canterville Ghost is a ghost story with a difference. It takes place in an English country house, Canterville Chase, which for centuries has been said to be haunted. When a rich American called Mr Otis moves into the house with his wife and children, Lord Canterville feels he should warn them about Sir Simon, the resident ghost. However, the Otis family aren’t afraid of ghosts and no matter how hard Sir Simon tries, they simply refuse to be frightened!

For anyone reading this review and thinking this book is not for you because you’re scared of ghost stories, I can promise you that it’s really not scary at all – I would describe it as more of a comedy and a clever satire. Wilde juxtaposes an atmospheric gothic setting, the typical British ‘haunted house’, with a practical American family who have an amusing way of reacting to the appearance of Sir Simon.

Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man of terrible aspect. 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.

“My dear sir,” said Mr. Otis, “I really must insist on your oiling those chains, and have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator.”

Wilde is clearly having fun creating British and American stereotypes and using them to explore cultural differences, though he does it in a witty and inoffensive way. Another thing I liked is that some of the story is told from the ghost’s perspective, so that our sympathy is with him rather than the Otis family.

Although the ending is a bit too sweet and sentimental, I really enjoyed this unusual little book! It’s funny, imaginative, and so easy to read it’s suitable for younger readers as well as adults.

(As a side note, I read this book on Saturday 16th October, which happened to be Oscar Wilde’s 156th birthday. I had no idea of this until after I’d finished the book, turned on my laptop and saw that Google were honouring the occasion with a Google Doodle. Very appropriate!)

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47 responses

  1. Saw a lovely version of this with Patrick Stewart as the ghost. Wonderful story.

    1. I’ve never seen that one but I do remember watching a cartoon version once!

    2. yo yo honey singh

      i was founding this and got here so thnx very muc and i will read this for sure

  2. I think this is just the book for me. I would definitely give this a try. What a great coincidence to read it on Wilde’s b’day.

    1. Yes, that was a nice surprise! I hope you enjoy the book if you decide to read it.

  3. I need to read more Wilde. I have a whole collection here with me…

    1. I’ve only read this one and The Picture of Dorian Gray but I hope to read more of his work eventually.

  4. I love Oscar Wilde! And ghosts! I must read this!

    1. It sounds perfect for you, then! I hope you enjoy it. :)

  5. well i liked it as a part time reading book . it’s fun reading ghost stories at free time

  6. I like story with the ghost.This story is little scary but comic

  7. I liked the story a lot. It has a scary name but it is not that haunting

    1. Hmmm……i’ll try it !

  8. this story is very intresting nd thisis not scary story like his name.

  9. interesting story, but i feel sympathetic for the ghost.

  10. It’s a wnderful book by wilde.It’s wrth reading.Everyone shuld try it.

  11. sangeeta minhas , shivansh,kanu priya , smriti , uday, arun, and my whole family

    i really liked it but it was given as a home work to us and after reading this novel i came to know about the fact that we should not afraid of ghost .Have some pity on them and always remember that how they feel…………………….

  12. firstly i think it just like a simple novel but i think that why should don’t i give this a chance then i came to 9 about this wonder ful, heart hacker novel . i read it again & again…& enjoy a lotttt
    thanks OSCAR WILDE TO give it to us ….

  13. this book rock as well as sucks

  14. once my frnd recommended me to read this novel
    by hearing the name i thought that it would be scary but when i read the story, i found it to be interesting and not at all scary infact it is a comical type novel
    at the same time in the ending I was full of sympathy for the poor old ghost Sr.Simon
    the best characters of the novel are Sr. Simon and Virginia Otis

  15. I think this is an interesting story with some super natural features.It is also a funny story as in this story GHOST is afraid of people in the chase.

  16. i like this book very much

  17. wicked! ghost & twins”

  18. Very nyc book.. It contains humour, romance bt very much less horror… A must read book for all..:)

  19. this novel is very funny and imaginative…. i really enjoyed reading this book ……….. and i like the twins characters………

  20. MAN MOHAN MEENA

    I LIKE THE BOOK..

    1. REALLY VERY INTRESTING NOVEL…

  21. useles book……d most boring book i hv evr read in my whole life…it sucks

    1. this is not useles book . reply me.

  22. its scary with fun

  23. very interesting book

  24. i think the story is tooo gud

  25. I will read this book and I think this book having lots of fun. I like this novel.

  26. i’ll also read this book. it is very very good story. this novel having lots of fun. and tooo gud
    THANK YOU!

  27. I like this novel it is having so many funs.

  28. i read it first time& i lik it

  29. I like this novel

  30. I like this novel its verry funny
    and like this santence love is big life aur death samthing

  31. lovely novel

  32. its such a lovly novel

  33. its a lovly novel”””

  34. ilike it most becoz its a very intresting novel

  35. i enjoyed reading dis buk

  36. toooooo…… good

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