What is the terrible tragedy of Canterville Chase? 

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter One of The Canterville Ghost, Mrs Umney reveals to the Otises the terrible tragedy of Canterville Chase. In 1575, Sir Simon de Canterville murdered his wife, Lady Eleanore, in the library of Canterville Chase. (We learn in Chapter Five that Sir Simon murdered his wife because she was "very plain" and poor at housekeeping). Sir Simon lived until 1584 when the brothers of Lady Eleanore took their revenge and starved him to death, though his body was never found.

The blood stain in the library acts as a visual reminder of this tragedy. No matter how many times Mr Otis cleans it off with his stain remover and detergent, the stain has reappeared by morning. While we later learn that the ghost repaints it each night, its constant presence reminds the inhabitants of the murderous and bloody history of Canterville Chase.

It is only in Chapter Five that this terrible tragedy is rectified, when Sir Simon secures Virginia's aid in praying for his repentance. In return, he receives eternal rest in the Garden of Death and the residents of Canterville Chase are haunted no more.