How did Mr. Otis humiliate the Canterville ghost?  

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Otis completely humiliates Sir Simon by not being afraid of the ghost at all.  

Sir Simon takes pride in the fact that he has been scaring owners of the Canterville house for years and years.  He believes that it will be equally easy to do against the Otis family.  Sir Simon's first attempt to do this occurs in section two of the story.  It's late at night, and the entire Otis family is asleep.  Sir Simon begins ghosting the halls and making noises with the chains that he is dragging with him.  Mr. Otis is more annoyed than anything else at having been roused from sleep.  Mr. Otis then goes and opens his door, and he is immediately confronted with the ghost of Sir Simon.  The image is quite terrifying to look at actually.  

Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man of terrible aspect. His eyes were as red burning coals; long grey hair fell over his shoulders in matted coils; his garments, which were of antique cut, were soiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles and rusty gyves.

Personally, I'd be scared.  That's what Sir Simon expects too; however, Mr. Otis isn't frightened in the slightest.  Instead, Mr. Otis calmly asks Sir Simon to stop making so much noise.  He then hands the ghost some oil in order to quiet his chains.  At that, Mr. Otis closes the door and returns to bed. 

Sir Simon is annoyed and angered at Mr. Otis's actions, and Sir Simon is equally humiliated.  He had formulated a plot that he believed would surely work, and nothing of the sort happened.  

For a moment the Canterville ghost stood quite motionless in natural indignation; then, dashing the bottle violently upon the polished floor, he fled down the corridor, uttering hollow groans, and emitting a ghastly green light.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Two of the story, the Canterville ghost makes his first appearance. It is very early in the morning and he is patrolling the corridor while rattling his chains, the sound of which wakes up Mr Otis. When Mr Otis opens his bedroom door, he meets with the Canterville ghost for the first time, described as an "old man terrible aspect" with eyes like "burning coals."

The Canterville ghost hopes that his appearance will terrify Mr Otis but, in fact, the opposite happens: Mr Otis is not at all afraid of the ghost and instead asks him to oil his chains so that no further noise is made. To do this, he gives him a bottle of Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator with the promise of more bottles, if he would like them.

Mr Otis then retires to his room, leaving the ghost feeling mortified and humiliated.

Read the study guide:
The Canterville Ghost

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question