The Canterville Ghost Chapter 1 Summary and Questions/Answers

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In this post, you will get a short summary of The Canterville Ghost Chapter 1 “A New Home for the Otis Family” as well as questions and their answers related to Chapter 1. The Canterville Ghost is a novel written by Oscar Wilde, who is famous for his witty and humorous tone in his writings as well as surprise endings.

The Canterville Ghost
Photo by Cederic Vandenberghe on Unsplash

The Canterville Ghost Chapter 4 “A New Home for the Otis Family” summary: In Chapter 1 of Canterville Ghost, we learn that Mr Hiram B. Otis, an American minister, is in the process of purchasing “Canterville Chase,” Lord Canterville’s ancestral home. Lord Canterville, like other well-wishers, warns Mr Otis that the place is haunted and that the ghost has been seen on a regular basis since 1584. Lord Canterville recounts an incident in which his grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton, never fully recovered from the terror the ghost had caused her. Mr. Otis, on the other hand, dismisses the claim, claiming that if the ghost exists, it would be displayed as a form of entertainment in his country.

We learn about the various members of the Otis family as they travel to their new home at the end of the summer season. Mrs Otis, who was a beauty in her younger days, is still striking in appearance and is a lady of good health and vigour. Washington, her eldest son, is social success. Apart from being extremely skilled at cards, he is quite attractive and a good dancer. Virginia, the family’s second child and only daughter, is fifteen years old and already a competent horsewoman. She has an ardent admirer in the young Duke of Cheshire, who is free-spirited and extremely active. The twins, dubbed The Stars and Stripes because of the regular beatings they receive for mischief, are the family’s youngest and follow Virginia.

It is here that the Otises learn more about the ghost. Mrs Otis discovers a bloodstain by the fireplace and instantly insists upon its removal. Mrs Umney tells the family that the irremovable stain, now a tourist attraction, marks the spot where Eleanore de Canterville was murdered by her husband Sir Simon in 1575. Mrs Umney goes on to tell them that Sir Simon disappeared nine years later and his body was never discovered.

The Otises learn more about the ghost in this location. Mrs Otis notices a bloodstain near the fireplace and demands that it be removed right away. The irremovable stain, now a tourist attraction, marks the spot where Eleanore de Canterville was murdered by her husband Sir Simon in 1575, according to Mrs Umney. Mrs Umney continues by telling them that Sir Simon vanished nine years later and that his body was never found.

Mrs Umney’s story is mocked by Washington, who begins cleaning the floor with a stain remover. A huge flash of lightning followed by a deafening clap of thunder startles the family as he triumphantly announces the stain’s disappearance. Mrs Umney passes out from fear. Mr Otis, ever practical, maintains his cool and can only comment on England’s lack of good weather, even suggesting that his wife punish the housekeeper for fainting. When Mrs Umney recovers, she is distraught and warns that trouble is on the way. Mr and Mrs Otis, however, reassure her by saying they are not afraid of ghosts. Mrs Umney blesses her new employers and retires for the night after negotiating a raise in her salary.

Canterville Ghost Chapter 1 questions and answers

1. What information does Lord Canterville share with Mr Otis to justify his belief that the ghost exists? What is your opinion of Lord Canterville?

Answer: In order to justify his belief that the ghost exists in the Canterville Chase, Mr. Canterville told Mr. Otis about his grandaunt, the Dowager Duchess of Bolton who was frightened into a fit by two skeleton hands being placed on her shoulder as she was dressing for dinner. He also told Mr. Otis about how the ghost was seen by several living members of his family.

Mr. Canterville appears to be an honest man as he revealed to Mr. Otis, his buyer, that the house was haunted.

2. What did Mr Otis mean by the phrase take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation? Does the phrase painting the old world red better reveal Mr Otis’s view of life?

Answer: Mr. Otis, the American minister, saw himself as a modern man from a modern country where everything could be bought with money. The phrase “take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation” means that if there was a ghost haunting the house, Mr. Otis would buy both the furniture and the ghost.

It demonstrates Mr. Otis’s rational outlook on life. He was not a believer in the supernatural, claiming that if a ghost existed, it would be displayed in American museums or road shows.

3. Describe Mr Otis’s personality.

Answer: Mr. Otis’ full name was Hiram B Otis. He was a minister from the United States. Mr. Otis was a fearless and daring individual. He had no faith in the existence of ghosts. He was completely materialistic, rational, and ruthless in his outlook. He believed that money could purchase anything, including a ghost. He purchased the Canterville Chase despite being told that it was a haunted house.

He was fearless in the face of the ghost. He remained calm when the ghost appeared in the middle of the night as a terrifying old man. Instead of being afraid of the ghost, he gave him a bottle of lubricant when he noticed his heavy chains making noise.

He was also a very affectionate and loving father, as evidenced by his concerns for his daughter Virginia. When she went missing, he did everything he could to find her.

He was an honest man as when the ghost gave Virginia jewels, he believed they rightfully belonged to the Lord’s family. Lord Canterville accepted his offer. He adored the Duke of Cheshire but objected to the titles because he was a staunch Republican.

4. Who is described as a celebrated New York Belle with animal spirits? Why? How is she different from other ladies from her country?

Answer: Mrs. Otis is described as a famous New York Belle who has animal spirits. She is described as a New York Belle with animal spirits because she was beautiful, lively, and full of energy when she was younger.

She was distinct from the other ladies in her country because, unlike them, she did not present the appearance of chronic illness.

5. Who is described as an Amazon? What does this mean? What else do we come to know about her?

Answer: Virginia has been described as a “wonderful Amazon.”

“A wonderful Amazon” denotes a skilled horsewoman. This means Virginia is an excellent horsewoman.

Virginia is a fifteen-year-old girl, lithe and lovely as a fawn, with large blue eyes. She is engaged to the Duke of Cheshire, whom she met after winning a race.

6. Explain the phrase the only true Republicans in the family. Why are the twins referred to as The Stars and Stripes?

Answer: The Republican Party believed in the freedom philosophy. The Twins are known as the family’s only true Republicans because they practised total freedom and continued to play pranks on the ghost.

They are known as “The Stars and Stripes” because they are constantly caned for misbehaving.

7. What do we learn about the ghost from Mrs Umney?

Answer: Mrs Umney stated that the ghost’s name was Sir Simon Canterville and that the bloodstain in the sitting room was the blood of the ghost’s wife, Lady Eleanore Canterville. Her husband, who had vanished unexpectedly, murdered her. His body was never found, but his guilty spirit haunts Chase to this day.

Get notes of the other chapters of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde


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