The Canterville Ghost Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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Why does Mr. Otis purchase Canterville Chase in spite of the warnings made by Lord Canterville?

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Mr. Otis has no doubt in his mind that there is no such thing as ghosts. In fact, he is so sure of his belief that he even mocks Lord Canterville's assertion that spirits exist. He states that he will take the Lord's claim in estimation but that if such a thing had, indeed, existed, an entrepreneurial and enterprising American would have long since taken such a being and either placed it in a museum for public view or would have put it on display as one of the draws in a traveling circus. Since this has not happened thus far, it means that these phantoms do not exist and are only figments.

Mr. Otis presents a cleverly humorous counter to Lord Canterville's statement that the ghost always makes an appearance before the death of any of his family members by saying that a doctor does exactly the same thing. He then states with great certainty and somewhat sarcastically:

"But there is no such thing, sir, as a ghost, and I guess the laws of Nature are not going to be suspended for the British aristocracy."

Since he does not believe that the house is haunted by spirits and rejects every argument provided as proof of their existence, Mr. Otis does not see any threat and freely buys Canterville Chase.

Mr. Otis does, however, later realize that he has maybe been too opinionated by rejecting the theory of ghosts when they discover the red stain on the carpet reappearing after it has been completely removed. The family later that night has a direct confrontation with the ghost, which dispels any further doubt. However, the entire family fearlessly, and without much trouble, engages the phantom on numerous occasions and, ironically, through a series of unhappy encounters for the restless spirit, makes it dread them more instead of the other way round.  

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At the beginning of Chapter One of "The Canterville Ghost," Lord Canterville makes it very clear to Mr Otis that the property is haunted. Despite his warnings, Mr Otis is more than happy to buy the property and move in with his family. His reasoning for this decision is very  clear, as he tells Lord Canterville:

But there is no such thing, sir, as a ghost.

Mr Otis completely refuses to accept the existence of the supernatural. If ghosts are real, thinks Mr Otis, then surely they would be bought by Americans and displayed in museums. His sceptical attitude derives, primarily, from his background: he comes from the wealthy, modern world of America where science and reason have triumphed. This world is far removed from that of the ancient British aristocracy, represented here by Lord Canterville, whom Mr Otis associates with myths and legends. It is this obvious clash between the views of Mr Otis and Lord Canterville which sets the tone for the rest of the story and prepares the reader for the upcoming battles between the family and the Canterville ghost. 

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