The Canterville Ghost

by

Oscar Wilde

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The Canterville Ghost: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Since Sir Simon’s physical body has at last been discovered, Lord Canterville arranges a grand funeral for Sir Simon, which is attended by the Otis family and Mrs. Umney, among others. After the funeral, Mr. Otis approaches Lord Canterville about the jewels Sir Simon has left to Virginia. They’re quite valuable, and Mr. Otis doesn’t feel right about the girl having them, as they’re surely Canterville family heirlooms. Lord Canterville, however, assures him that Virginia has done the family a great service, and the jewels belong to her. Regardless, Lord Canterville reminds Mr. Otis that Canterville Chase came with a ghost, so it only makes sense that it also came with the ghost’s property.
Virginia’s jewels represent what Wilde saw as beautiful in the British aristocracy: its ornateness, its concern for aesthetics, its desire to forget the ugliness of the world. Attaching the jewels to Virginia, an American, makes her something of a hybrid. In addition to her innate goodness and mercy (things the aristocracy decidedly lacked), she now has this aristocratic value (which she had already begun to cultivate in herself through her painting).
Themes
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Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The jewels do come to Virginia’s assistance when in the following days she is engaged and then wedded to the Duke of Cheshire—a ceremony that requires her to stand before Queen Victoria herself. Mr. Otis disapproves of this marriage initially, even though he likes the Duke of Cheshire, because he doesn’t believe in titles (like “Duke”). However, he  eventually comes to approve of the marriage when he sees the beauty and grandeur of the wedding ceremony.
There’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek moment in Mr. Otis’ sudden change of heart regarding the Duke. Mr. Otis has a natural American dislike for hereditary titles, but this changes quickly when he realizes the extent of wealth and grandeur that the aristocracy still control and to which his daughter now has access.
Themes
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
Later, alone at Canterville Chase, the Duke asks Virginia what happened when she was alone with Sir Simon. She says that she can’t tell him, but that the ghost made her “see what Life is, and what Death signifies, and why Love is stronger than both.” The Duke says he is satisfied with this answer, so long as he has Virginia’s heart, and as long as she promises to tell their children what the ghost said to her. Virginia, blushing at the mention of their future children, agrees.
This passage presents a possible modification of Solomon 8:6, “for love is as strong as death and jealousy as cruel as the grave.” It seems that the Duke is mildly jealous that Virginia has this one secret from him, and it is a secret that comes from the grave.
Themes
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon