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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Describe each member of the Otis family, and explain at least one characteristic present in all of them in "The Canterville Ghost."

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If we begin first with the members of the Otis family, there are six in all. Firstly, there is Mr. Hiram Otis, the head of the family, who is a very practical and outspoken man. Next is his wife, Mrs. Otis, who is interested in the supernatural and intends to join a psychical society. The eldest child is Washington Otis, a young, energetic man who is notable for his determination to remove the bloodstain in the library. Virginia Otis is the couple’s only daughter. She is more reserved than her siblings, but her beauty and elegance has won the love of the Duke of Cheshire. Finally, the Stars and Stripes are the family’s twin boys, who are portrayed as naughty and boisterous.

Although the members of the Otis family are very different in terms of their personalities, they do share one characteristic in common: their willingness to interact with Sir Simon, the Canterville Ghost. However, each family member does this in a different way. The twins, for instance, delight in terrorizing the Ghost, and Mr. Otis gives him lubricant to oil his chains because the noise is irritating. In contrast, Virginia interacts with the Ghost by giving him her pity and support, an act which leads to his final deliverance from sin.

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