How did Otis family scare the ghost in Oscar Wilde's short story "The Canterville Ghost"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Oscar Wilde's story "The Canterville Ghost" is a humorous parody of American and British upper class behavior. In the story, Hiram B. Otis, the United States ambassador to England, purchases a haunted Tudor mansion for himself and his family. Though the family is warned it is haunted, the family refuses to believe it. As the ghost begins making his appearances, the American family members show their hard, practical American natures by refusing to be scared and even offering the ghost advice. Because the ghost cannot scare the family members, he feels insulted and devotes himself to revenge.

In Chapter III, the ghost of Sir Simon withdraws from the wainscoting, "muttering strange sixteenth-century curses, and ever and anon brandishing the rusty dagger in the midnight air." Soon, he is prepared to intrude on Washington in his bedroom, the eldest son, but lets out a "piteous wail of terror" and falls back, horrified because he sees a "horrible specter." In other words, the ghost of Sir Simon becomes terrified because he thinks he is seeing a ghost. He turns and flees to his room but returns in the morning to see that the twins had played a trick on him. They had made a representation of a ghost using a "white dimity bed-curtain, with a sweeping-brush, a kitchen cleaver, and a hollow turnip."

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