Book online

Book's analysis

chapter 1

chapter 2

chapter 3

chapter 4

chapter 5

chapter 6

chapter 7



The ghost story as a genre

 Main themes

Beliefs in ghosts

Traditional stories

Inverted ghost story


Humorous devices


Suspense devices


Criticism of Americans



The Canterville Ghost Home

The World in a Book Home




The Canterville Ghost’s characters


Main characters: The ghost, Virginia and Mr. Otis

Secondary characters: Washington, Mrs. Otis, the twins, Duke of                 Chesire and Lord Canterville, Mrs. Umney, gypsies an  Rev     Augustus Dampier

 If we consider this story as a fairy tale, we can define the characters by means of their functions, the typical ones of the traditional stories according to the famous categories devised by Propp and the structural literary analysis.

 Characters in chapters 1 to 4


  • Protagonist: Mr. Otis

  • Antagonist: the ghost

  • Object: to turn out the ghost

  • Protagonist’s helper: Washington and the twins

  • Antagonist’s helper: his supernatural powers

Characters in chapters 5 to 7


  • Protagonists: the ghost

  • Antagonist: Mr Otis

  • Object: the ghost soul’s liberation

  • Protagonist’s helper: Virginia

  • Antagonist’s helper: his family, excluding Virginia, and the Duke of Chesire

 Descriptions of the characters


The ghost: The ghost of the castle for centuries. He was Sir Simon de Canterville and died in 1584, his spirit still haunts the Chase. His aspect is very terrible: “He is an old man, 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.”


Mr. Otis: The father of the Otis family. He is a middle-aged American minister; he is determinated, inflexible, rational, practical and pragmatic, in conclusion a true American. In fact at the beginning he believes that the ghost doesn’t exist, then, when he personally meets him, he is indifferent: he has more important things to do, making money, for example.


Virginia: “She is a little girl of fifteen, lithe and lovely as a fawn, and with a fine freedom, in her large blue eyes. She is a wonderful amazon. In respect to her family she is kind and with weling heart.” The daughter is the only one in the family who is scared by the ghost. She never speaks except to the ghost, at the end of the story.


Washington: the Otises' oldest son; “he is a fire-haired rather cood-loooking young man; gardenias and peerage are his only weaknesses.”


The twins: “they are usually called The stars and stripes, they are delightful boys and the only true republicans of the family.” These children always play tricks on the ghost and make him depressed and desperate. All  along  the story, they imagine jokes and even dress up as ghosts.


Mrs Otis:  The mother isn't scared of the ghost and even asks him if he wants a remedy for his stomach. “She is a very handsome middle-aged woman with fine eyes and a superb profile. She has a magnificent constitution and a wonderful amount of animal spirits.”


Duke of Chesire: He is a handsome young scapegrace” desperately in love with the fifteen-year old Virginia Otis. However, his guardians pack him off to Eton, and he must wait to marry. When Virginia vanishes, he insists on being part of the search party. As soon as she reappears, he smothers her with kisses. His devotion is rewarded, and Virginia consents to become the Duchess of Cheshire.


Lord Canterville: A respectable descendent of the Canterville family, that was the owner of the Canterville Chase. “He is an English men of the most pounctilious honour.”


Mrs.Umney: the old house-keeper of Canterville Chase is very terrified by the ghost and tries to warn the family.








Gipsies, Rev. Augustus Dampier: there isn’t a description because they are only nominated.


By Sarah and Cindy, Ilaria and Francesca