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 thoughts on “Review: The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

  1. V Demetros October 19, 2010 / 10:48 pm

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

    • Helen October 20, 2010 / 6:37 pm

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

    • yo yo honey singh December 18, 2012 / 10:49 am

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

  2. Veens October 20, 2010 / 9:21 am

    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.

    • Helen October 20, 2010 / 6:38 pm

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

  3. Amanda October 20, 2010 / 1:41 pm

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

    • Helen October 20, 2010 / 6:40 pm

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

  4. Ash October 25, 2010 / 1:00 am

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

    • Helen October 25, 2010 / 7:07 pm

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

  5. himani April 30, 2011 / 7:22 pm

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

  6. simon May 4, 2011 / 8:28 pm

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

  7. Rahul May 29, 2011 / 3:34 pm

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

    • Rohit Jha June 12, 2012 / 4:15 pm

      Hmmm……i’ll try it !

  8. natasha June 30, 2011 / 1:00 pm

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

  9. Lucifer May 9, 2012 / 5:44 pm

    interesting story, but i feel sympathetic for the ghost.

  10. Manisha May 12, 2012 / 11:21 am

    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 June 1, 2012 / 1:41 pm

    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. Ravinder Chahal June 11, 2012 / 4:16 pm

    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. loha June 23, 2012 / 9:22 am

    this book rock as well as sucks

  14. ananya August 5, 2012 / 3:20 pm

    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. PRAKASH&RAKESH August 21, 2012 / 10:21 am

    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. avinash August 26, 2012 / 8:44 am

    i like this book very much

  17. badal September 4, 2012 / 3:37 pm


  18. anupam September 6, 2012 / 2:20 pm

    not bad.

  19. Anonymous September 19, 2012 / 2:28 pm

    wicked! ghost & twins”

  20. Debarghya saha October 12, 2012 / 7:37 am

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

  21. shanmu October 21, 2012 / 4:56 pm

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

  22. MAN MOHAN MEENA October 27, 2012 / 1:43 pm


    • VEENA October 27, 2012 / 2:12 pm


  23. Anonymous November 24, 2012 / 12:17 pm

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

    • VEENA December 27, 2012 / 2:39 pm

      this is not useles book . reply me.

  24. Anonymous November 26, 2012 / 4:26 pm

    its scary with fun

  25. sanjay danu 1123 November 30, 2012 / 11:15 am

    very interesting book

  26. Arty Rana December 12, 2012 / 3:51 pm

    i think the story is tooo gud

  27. VEENA December 27, 2012 / 2:14 pm

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

  28. vidya December 27, 2012 / 2:23 pm

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

  29. guudi December 27, 2012 / 2:29 pm

    I like this novel it is having so many funs.

  30. vishal December 28, 2012 / 1:30 am

    i read it first time& i lik it

  31. shikha December 30, 2012 / 12:21 pm

    I like this novel

  32. Anonymous January 1, 2013 / 11:25 am

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

  33. Anonymous January 2, 2013 / 11:26 am

    lovely novel

  34. Anonymous January 4, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    its such a lovly novel

  35. Anonymous January 4, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    its a lovly novel”””

  36. bhushbhush February 3, 2013 / 10:56 am

    ilike it most becoz its a very intresting novel

  37. eris February 20, 2013 / 6:56 pm

    i enjoyed reading dis buk

  38. Anonymous February 24, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    toooooo…… good

Comments are closed.