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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How did the Canterville ghost plan to frighten the US minister and his family?

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The Canterville ghost plans to frighten the Otis family with all the tried and true methods of a classic ghost haunting an ancestral home. He will leave blood stains on the floor of the library, appear in frightening costumes, show up at night with red eyes and matted hair, and rattle...

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The Canterville ghost plans to frighten the Otis family with all the tried and true methods of a classic ghost haunting an ancestral home. He will leave blood stains on the floor of the library, appear in frightening costumes, show up at night with red eyes and matted hair, and rattle and clank his heavy chains. 

All of these methods of attempting to frighten the family represent common cliches of ghost stories, familiar to readers then and now. These methods of terror work against the English, who are properly fearful of ancestral specters. The story turns, however, on the ghost's complete inability to scare the practical Americans living in his hall. Unlike the English, they are not "haunted" by the past and take practical methods, such as rubbing out the blood stains with a brand new soap solution, to counter the ghost's attempts to intimidate them. 

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