Book Review: The Canterville Ghost (Oscar Wilde).

I have always enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s writing. I was excited to finally read The Canterville Ghost. It is a humorous short story. It follows an American family moving into a haunted castle despite being warned about supernatural activities.

An ancient castle of Canterville Chase is haunted by a terrifying ghost. The Otis family moves into the castle even though they are warned of the ghost. They consider themselves pragmatic and don’t believe in such superstitions. The ghost haunting Canterville is Sir Simon de Canterville, a former resident of the house. He has driven people away by horribly frightening them and plans to follow a similar plan to get rid of the Otis family. Most of the story is told from Simon’s perspective.

This story is a different take on the typical gothic-style horror tale. It’s more like a horror-comedy. The Otis family deals with the whole haunted thing in a very practical way. Mr. and Mrs. Otis have a teenage daughter, Virginia, and younger twin boys. The boys are the typical characters in the sense of their behavior and antics. The Ghost is determined to drive away from the family but the twins give him competition. Simon is fond of Virginia because she possesses a gentle nature. She is the only one he doesn’t try to scare her.  

The characters in the story are caricatures but I think it’s on purpose. There is this old-world aristocracy versus the modern and slightly wild new world. That’s the reason for such a typical characterization. Virginia is sympathetic to Simon. He expresses his wish to be free. It’s almost tragic in a way that Simon is stuck, not by his choice. Simon murdered his wife and later, he was walled in alive and died of starvation. In the end, there are happy endings involved for all.

The story is funny and very Oscar Wilde in its narrative and humor. The writing is witty and the prose doesn’t seem old-timey, it keeps you engaged in the story. The Canterville Ghost is a fun horror story. I enjoyed reading the story. It has to be one of my favorite short stories of all time.

*Click on the book cover above to get a copy.

Author: Aarti Athavle

Daydreamer - Writer - Bibliophile

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