illustration of a ghost standing behid an iron fence with its arm raised against a large mansion

The Canterville Ghost

by Oscar Wilde

Start Free Trial

In "The Canterville Ghost," how does Virginia assist the ghost?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter Five of "The Canterville Ghost," Virginia helps the ghost by enabling him to enter the Garden of Death. She does this by accompanying the ghost through the wall of the Tapestry Chamber and helping him to receive divine forgiveness for his earthly sins. Remember that the ghost cannot do this for himself as he has no tears. By doing this, Virginia has fulfilled the prophecy which is written on the library window. This was a necessary step in bringing about the ghost's death and restoring peace to Canterville Chase. 

Virginia never reveals the exact details of her time with the ghost. She does, however, tell her family that the ghost really was sorry and that "God has forgiven him." The ghost is so grateful to Virginia that he gives her a box of jewels, a permanent reminder of her role in bringing about his salvation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Canterville Ghost," what circumstances bring Virginia and the ghost face to face?  

In Chapter Five of "The Canterville Ghost," Virginia and the ghost come face-to-face for the first time, in the Tapestry Chamber.

For Virginia, this meeting occurs after a day of riding on Brockley Meadows with the young Duke of Cheshire. On her return, Virginia tears her riding outfit so badly that she decides to enter the house via the back entrance, presumably to avoid being seen by her mother. As she approaches the Tapestry Chamber, she finds the door open and thinks that someone is inside. 

Conversely, the ghost is in the Tapestry Chamber because he wants to avoid the Otis family. He is "forlorn" and in a state of "extreme depression" after being foiled in every attempt to frighten the family. In the most recent incident, he met with Washington Otis who hemmed him in with a "garden syringe," forcing the ghost to escape through a chimney. After this, the ghost did not appear at night again. 

This chance meeting between Virginia and the ghost marks a turning point in the story. The ghost is at his lowest and in need of a "golden girl" who can help him to achieve eternal rest in the Garden of Death, as the prophecy on the library window dictates. But he must first convince Virginia that he is truly sorry for the crimes he has committed so that, together, they can shed their tears and be forgiven by God himself. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on