The Canterville Ghost Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Canterville Ghost book cover
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How did the twins play tricks on the ghost?  

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Unlike the English, the American Otises have no fear of the Canterville ghost, and the Otis twins go as far as turning the tables on him. Sir Simon, the ghost, tries to theatrically scare them with terrifying costumes and sudden, dramatic, nighttime appearances, but, instead, they frighten him with all-American practical jokes.

Practical jokes are physical and concrete: the humor comes not from wordplay or sophisticated understanding but from someone falling or some other kind of crude, slapstick humor. In this story, the twins pull out such classics as creating a butter slide, shooting at the ghost with a pea shooter, and propping a bucket of water at the top of the door of their room. Luckily for the ghost, he has dressed up in a headless guise the night the bucket of water falls on him.

Although a ghost traditionally terrifies humans, in this case, the twins terrify the ghost with their tricks.

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In The Canterville Ghost, the twins play lots of tricks on the ghost. These tricks begin in chapter 3 when the twins attack the ghost with their pea shooters during his second appearance. Later, when the ghost tries to take revenge for this attack, the twins terrify him by creating the Ye Otis Ghoste, a mock ghost with "hollow eyes." Terrified, the Canterville ghost retreats.

The twins' tricks continue in chapter 4 with their creation of a butter slide which causes the Canterville ghost to fall and hurt himself. Shortly after, the twins drench the ghost by pouring a jug of water over him, which is hanging above a doorway.

Instead of being afraid of the ghost, the twins delight in playing tricks on the ghost. This adds an element of humor to the story while also creating sympathy for the plight of the Canterville ghost.

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