"The Canterville Ghost" is a ghost story with a difference. To what extent is this true? 

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Canterville Ghost" has all of the elements of a traditional ghost story: it is set in Canterville Chase, a haunted mansion, has its share of supernatural phenomena, like the blood-stain on the library floor, and features a resident ghost called Sir Simon.

But "The Canterville Ghost" is also a ghost story with a difference because it is filled with unexpected instances of humour and satire. We see this most clearly in the characterisation of the Canterville ghost himself because he is so different from the ghosts depicted in traditional stories. He is easily offended, for example, and is constantly outwitted and terrorised by the Otis children. When they create their own version of the Canterville ghost to scare him, in Chapter Three, the real ghost is terrified:

Never having seen a ghost before, he naturally was terribly frightened, and after a second hasty glance at the awful phantom, fled back to his room.

In fact, "The Canterville Ghost" is a story which flips the traditional ghostly tale on its head. This is because the Otis family are more successful in scaring the ghost than he is in scaring them. It is this twist which makes "The Canterville Ghost" so darkly funny and so different from other ghost stories.