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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Ideas for Reports and Papers

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1. Contrast Sir Simon and Mr. Otis and the English way of life with the American way of life.

2. Discuss the benefits of having the unconventional point of view in the story be that of the ghost. What does Wilde accomplish by telling the story from Sir Simon's point of view?

3. Write a character analysis of Mrs. Otis.

4. Elaborate on the ways in which Wilde satirizes Americans.

5. Wilde employs a reversal of opposites in some of his short fiction as a literary device. Discuss how he uses this device in "The Canterville Ghost" and in one of the other stories published in the short story collection Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories.

6. Write a paper on the literary movement termed "Decadence." Discuss how "The Canterville Ghost" conforms to the movement's credo "Art for art's sake."

7. Look up the definition of parody, and discuss how "The Canterville Ghost" fits this definition.

8. Though "The Canterville Ghost" was well received, it was criticized because it "begins as a social satire, continues as a pure burlesque, and closes in an atmosphere of romantic sentiment." Discuss the change of tone that occurs during the course of the story, and elaborate on its effectiveness.

9. Research the history of British castles. What was life like during the time when the castles were built? Why do you suppose castles are often used as places where ghosts reside?

10. Research the paranormal phenomenon of ghosts, and discuss what you discover. Is it possible that they really exist?

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