illustration of a ghost standing behid an iron fence with its arm raised against a large mansion

The Canterville Ghost

by Oscar Wilde
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In The Canterville Ghost, what is the story's main conflict?

The main conflict in The Canterville Ghost is the conflict between Sir Simon, a ghost and the Otis family. The Otis family continually outsmarts Sir Simon and forces him to retreat.

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In a story about a ghost, a reader might assume that the main antagonist is going to be the ghost.  That's how "The Canterville Ghost " begins too.  Sir Simon has been haunting the house for generations, and he has been successfully scaring away owner after owner.  That is...

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In a story about a ghost, a reader might assume that the main antagonist is going to be the ghost.  That's how "The Canterville Ghost" begins too.  Sir Simon has been haunting the house for generations, and he has been successfully scaring away owner after owner.  That is until the Otis family moves in.  From that point forward, the Otis family is a larger antagonist than Sir Simon is.  The external conflict that exists between Sir Simon the ghost and the Otis family is the main conflict in the story.  Sir Simon continually comes up with new ideas to frighten and bother the Otis family with, but the Otis family repeatedly foils his attempts.  More often than not, the Otis family ends up pestering Sir Simon.  That is most obvious in the case of the twins.  The wreak havoc on Sir Simon, and he actually becomes afraid to reveal himself and continue haunting.  

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