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Facts in The Canterville Ghost

Facts Examples in The Canterville Ghost:

Chapter I.

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"Canterville Chase is seven miles from Ascot..."   (Chapter I.)

Ascot is a town approximately 30 miles to the southwest of London in southern England. Eton College is located 10 miles to the north of Ascot, and therefore Canterville Chase, on the Thames. This helps provide context for the location of Canterville Chase and how it is situated in a fairly remote area but still close enough to notable towns and railway lines.

"Eton..."   (Chapter I.)

Eton College is a distinguished, private English boarding school for boys which was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI on the Thames River.

"Fellow of King's College, Cambridge..."   (Chapter I.)

A "fellow" is a member of a particular group of learned academics who hold special privileges at a college or university. At Cambridge, a centuries-old English university, fellows make up the governing body of the institution and may or may not teach courses. An especially distinguished scholar may be granted the status of Honorary Fellow at a university.

"Lady Stutfield..."   (Chapter II.)

Lady Stutfield appears to be a fictional character of Wilde's creation. While this story Lady Stutfield drowns herself in a carp-pond, Wilde uses the same name later for one of the characters in his play A Woman of No Importance.

"Charles James Fox..."   (Chapter II.)

Charles James Fox (1749–1806) was a British statesman who became a main opponent of King George III. In his private life, he was a notorious gambler, womanizer, and hedonist.

"Monsieur de Voltaire..."   (Chapter II.)

While Madame de Tremouillac is not a historical figure, Monsieur de Voltaire is. Known by his pen name Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet was a well known writer famous for his criticisms of the Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of expression, religion, and separation of church and state.

"Sir William Gull..."   (Chapter II.)

Wilde is referring to the 19th-century English physician Sir William Gull, 1st Baronet of Brook Street. Sir William made significant contributions to medical science through his work on paraplegia, Bright's disease, and anorexia nervosa. He is mentioned here to emphasize how badly the ghost scared the local rector; the rector needed one of the best doctors to deal with the nervous disorder he suffered from the ghost's actions.

"Sarah Bernhardt..."   (Chapter II.)

Sarah Bernhardt was a French actress regarded as one of the best actors of all time. She became famous in France in the 1870s and was soon after highly in demand in Europe and the United States. The comparison here between Bernhardt and Davenport refers to the role that both of the stage actresses played in Victorien Sardou's Fédora. Of course, Wilde makes sure to have the American family prefer the American actress.

"Miss Fanny Devonport..."   (Chapter II.)

Fanny Devonport was an Anglo-American stage actress during the late 19th century. Later in her career, she acquired the American rights to the French dramatist Victorien Sardou's Fédora, a play that was a big hit for the actress Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. Devonport turned it into a lucrative success in the US, premiering the play in New York in 1883 and continuing its tours through 1887.

"Messrs. Myers and Podmore..."   (Chapter II.)

Frederic W.H. Myers and Frank Podmore were members of the Society for Psychical Research who co-authored, along with Edmund Gurney one of the first publications of the organization Phantasms of the Living in 1886.

"Psychical Society..."   (Chapter II.)

The Society For Psychical Research was founded in the United Kingdom in 1882, five years before "The Canterville Ghost" was published. Their stated purpose is to understand and comprehend psychic or paranormal activities that fall outside the range of scientific behavior. Mrs. Otis's willingness to join the group and inability to distinguish between science and pseudo-science parodies the Victorian era's faith in scientific progress.

"Longfellow..."   (Chapter III.)

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) wrote lyrical poems that largely adhered to poetic conventions such as standard forms, regular meter, and rhymed stanzas. He was the most popular American poet of his day and enjoyed success overseas. The ghost is likely referring to Longfellow's "The Skeleton in Armor" poem in this passage.

"in accordance with Californian etiquette..."   (Chapter III.)

Located on the western coast of the United States, California acquired its statehood status in 1850. However, in the 19th century it still had a strong mental association with the lawless frontier period of the American Wild West. Mr. Otis's "Californian etiquette" is an excellent example of Wilde's use of irony because holding someone at gun point and demanding that they raise their hands above their heads are certainly not considered appropriate behavior.

"his own arms and those of his murdered wife were blazoned in azure and gold..."   (Chapter III.)

The window has the coat of arms of Sir Simon and his wife painted on it. Old families in England and Europe often had symbols as unique heraldic designs to represent their families in public affairs.

"Kenilworth..."   (Chapter III.)

This is an allusion to Kenilworth Castle where Queen Elizabeth I was entertained with banquets and pageants were held in her honor. The castle rose to prominence in 1821 after Sir Walter Scott popularized the castle in his historical novel Kenilworth, turning the castle into an idealized and romantic location in the minds of Victorian England.

"Virgin Queen..."   (Chapter III.)

The Virgin Queen is another name for Queen Elizabeth I of England, who ruled from 1558 to 1603. She was the last of the ruling Tudor family, and since she never married nor had children, she became known as the Virgin Queen.

"Saroni..."   (Chapter IV.)

Wilde is referring to Napoleon Sarony, an American photographer from the 19th century who gained fame for his portraits of theater stars. His inclusion here is deliberate, because not only did he take one of the most iconic portraits of Oscar Wilde, but also because that same image became the subject of a copyright contention in the US Supreme Court case Burrows-Giles Lithographic Co. vs. Sarony 111 US 53 in 1884, a few years before "The Canterville Ghost" was published.

"Tunbridge Wells..."   (Chapter IV.)

This is the shortened version of the affluent town Royal Tunbridge Wells in the county of Kent in England. In the early 19th century, Tunbridge Wells became a place for the well-off to establish homes in or visit as tourists, becoming a fashionable resort town.

"Wandsworth Common..."   (Chapter IV.)

Wandsworth Common is a sizable public area in Wandsworth, a district of southwest London. It contains a large amount of green space, as well as ponds and a lake.

"euchre..."   (Chapter IV.)

"Euchre" is a card game usually played by two, three, or four persons and uses the highest thirty-two cards. Players are dealt five cards and attempt to take tricks. The word "euchre" means to take advantage or trick another player, and it has the same meaning in informal American English.

"Gretna Green..."   (Chapter IV.)

This is a village in the south of Scotland where couples ran away to get married. In England and Wales, minors could not marry without parental consent, but in Scotland, boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12 without their parents' permission. The first village over the border between England and Scotland that was easy to reach, Gretna Green, became famous for runaway weddings. 

"a sweet puritan gravity..."   (Chapter V.)

This is an allusion to the Puritans, a Protestant sect known for being strict and serious in attitude and behavior. Puritans first immigrated to America in the 1600s aboard the Mayflower and settled in New England.

"Blackfell Hollow..."   (Chapter VI.)

While there is a location in England named Black Fell in the English Lake District, that place is far to the northwest in England in Cumbria. Given the approximate location of the Canterville Chase, it's highly unlikely that Wilde means this particular place, making it most likely a location of his own imagining.

"St. George's, Hanover Square..."   (Chapter VII.)

This is a famous Anglican church in the City of Westminster in London. The church was built in the early 18th century, is situated near Oxford Circus, and has been a venue for high society weddings for a long time, making it a natural choice for Wilde have Virginia marry and become the Duchess of Cheshire.

"Venetian..."   (Chapter VII.)

An adjective form of the Italian city of Venice, "Venetian" refers to that city and its renown for producing artistic works of all kinds.

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