The Canterville Ghost Chapter 1 Summary

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  • 0:05 Moves
  • 0:21 The House
  • 0:51 The Family
  • 1:15 The Blood Stain
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you are reading 'The Canterville Ghost' by Oscar Wilde, you might be wondering what the first chapter is all about. In this lesson, we will follow along as the main characters are introduced and as they experience the haunted house.


If you have ever started a relationship or taken on a new project and ignored the bad signs, you may recognize what happens in Chapter 1 of The Canterville Ghost. Let's take a look at what happens and how the family reacts when they are faced with the facts about their creepy new house.

The House

The beginning of The Canterville Ghost cuts right to the chase and tells us that everyone thinks Mr. Otis is making a big mistake when he decides to buy Canterville Chase. Everyone believes the place is haunted. The owner of the home explains that 'Dowager Duchess of Bolton, was frightened into a fit' when a skeleton placed its hands on her shoulders while she was getting dressed. The owner explains that other people have seen the ghost as well. Mr. Otis explains that if there were such a thing as ghosts, it would be in the newspapers and he would know about it. He decides to buy the house.

The Family

As the family finishes the paperwork and buys the house, we get a description of the characters. Mrs. Otis is an attractive woman who has 'fine eyes, and a superb profile.' Their son, Washington, is a good-looking and successful young man and is a good dancer. Their only daughter, Virginia, is a 15-year-old who likes to race her pony. Next in line are the twins, two boys who are a bit mischievous but have moments where they're described as 'delightful.'

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