Why is Mr. Otis eager to buy Canterville Chase when he knows it is haunted?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Canterville Ghost," Mr Otis is eager to buy the house because he does not believe in the existence of ghosts, despite the warnings he receives at the time of purchase. He makes this belief clear to Lord Canterville in Chapter One when the latter warns him of the ghost's presence. Mr Otis's response demonstrates his supernatural scepticism:

I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation.

For Mr Otis, ghosts do not exist because it goes against the "laws of Nature." Moreover, Mr Otis believes that if ghosts existed, his country would surely have some of its own:

I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in Europe, we'd have it at home in a very short time in one of our public museums, or on the road as a show.

This view is symbolic of Mr Otis's American roots: he is a sceptic because he associates the supernatural with the Old World of the "British aristocracy." In contrast, he represents the rational modernity of America in which ghosts - and other supernatural phenomena - have no place. 

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The Canterville Ghost

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