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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What were the attempts made by the Canterville Ghost to scare the Otis family? 

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The Canterville ghost makes a number of attempts to scare the Otis family. In Chapter Two, for instance, he reapplies the blood stain in the library, which the family have cleaned off. In the same chapter, he appears to the family late at night by walking down the corridor, rattling his chains.

In Chapter Three, the ghost tries to frighten the family by wearing an antique suit of armor, which stands in the downstairs hallway. He also creeps up to Washington's room but is confronted by an unfamiliar "specter" which, ironically, frightens the ghost away.

In Chapter Four, he dresses as one of his alter-egos, "Black Isaac," in an attempt to frighten the twins. Later, he adopts the disguise of "Jonas the Graveless" and appears outside the library.

In all of these attempts, however, the Canterville ghost is unsuccessful. The family are not afraid of him and, in most cases, the twins outmaneuver him by creating traps to humiliate and drive him away.

It is one of the story's most ironic (and comical) notions that the ghost is more afraid of the family than they are of him. 

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The Canterville Ghost first decides to reapply the blood stain that the Otis family has removed from the carpet. This happens three times, and then the ghost appears in chains to menace Mr. Otis. In response, Mr. Otis tells him to oil his chains. In the meantime, the blood stains keep reappearing on the floor. Then, the ghost knocks over an old suit of armor and sits upon the high-backed chair. However, the twins shoot at him, and then the ghost decides to rig up another ghost to scare the Otis children. They disassemble the other ghost, and the Canterville Ghost decides to become the "Headless Earl" to scare the Otis twins once and for all. Unfortunately for the ghost, the twins greet him by rigging up a pitcher to pour water on his head, and he takes to his bed with a bad cold, disheartened about his ability to scare the Otis family. 

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