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The Canterville Ghost

Oscar Wilde

Fiction / Classics

The story is about a family who moves to a castle haunted by the ghost of a dead nobleman, who killed his wife and was starved to death by her brothers. This is Oscar Wilde's tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance its tired ghost. The family -- which refuses to believe in him -- is in Wilde's way a commentary on the British nobility of the day -- and on the Americans, too. The tale, like many of Wilde's, is rich with allusion, but ends as sentimental romance. The Canterville Chase has all the accouterments of a traditional haunted house. Descriptions of the wainscoting, the library panelled in black oak and the armor in the hallway characterize the Gothic setting. Wilde mixes the macabre with comedy, juxtaposing devices from traditional English ghost stories such as creaking floorboards, clanking chains and ancient prophecies with symbols of contemporary American consumerism.

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