The Canterville Ghost

by

Oscar Wilde

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Mr. Otis is an American minister who purchases Canterville Chase from Lord Canterville. He is the husband of Mrs. Otis and father of Washington, Virginia, and the Otis twins. During the haunting of the Canterville estate, Mr. Otis displays remarkable calm and poise, giving Sir Simon some leeway in adjusting to the home’s new residents (that is, once Mr. Otis recognizes that the ghost exists at all). He also chastises his twin sons for behaving rudely towards Sir Simon. In this, however, he proves himself an ineffectual father—for the twins merely laugh at him and continue their behavior unabated. When Sir Simon knocks over a suit of armor in the middle of the night, however, Mr. Otis, believing his family to be in acute physical danger, is quickly on the scene with a gun, demanding that the ghost put his hands in the air. Mostly, however, Mr. Otis is simply an American in a slightly stereotypical and exaggerated way. He gave his children patriotic American names like Washington and Virginia, talks about how superior America is to England whenever he has the chance (even in such mundane ways as the weather), carries a handgun with him, and actively advocates for all British citizens to immigrate to America. This quintessential “Americanness” appears in stark relief to the Lord Canterville’s equally prototypical “Britishness,” making the symbolism of Canterville Chase’s sale especially poignant.

Mr. Hirsham B. Otis Quotes in The Canterville Ghost

The The Canterville Ghost quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Hirsham B. Otis or refer to Mr. Hirsham B. Otis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Branden Books edition of The Canterville Ghost published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I have come from a modern country, where we have everything that money can buy […] I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in Europe, we’d have it at home in a very short time in one of our public museums, or on the road as a show.

Related Symbols: Canterville Chase
Page Number: 7-8
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

On reaching a small secret chamber in the left wing, he leaned up against a moonbeam to recover his breath, and began to try and realize his position. Never in a brilliant and uninterrupted career of three hundred years, had he been so grossly insulted.

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

And after all this some wretched Americans were to come and offer him the Rising Sun Lubricator, and throw pillows at his head! It was quite unbearable. Besides, no ghost in history had ever been treated in this manner. Accordingly, he determined to have vengeance, and remained till daylight in an attitude of deep thought.

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

I have no wish […] to do the ghost any personal injury, and I must say that, considering the length of time he has been in the house, I don’t think it is at all polite to throw pillows at him[…] [u]pon the other hand […] if he really does decline to use the Rising Sun Lubricator, we shall have to take his chains from him.

Related Symbols: Canterville Chase
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

"I don't think I should like America."

"I suppose because we have no ruins and no curiosities,"

said Virginia, satirically.

"No ruins no curiosities!" answered the Ghost; "you have

your navy and your manners."

"Good evening; I will go and ask papa to get the twins an extra week's holiday."

"Please don't go, Miss Virginia," he cried; “I am so lonely and so unhappy, and I really don't know what to do. I want to go to sleep and I cannot."

Page Number: 45-46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Under these circumstances, Lord Canterville, I feel sure that you will recognize how impossible it would be for me to allow them to remain in the possession of any member of my family; and, indeed, all such vain gauds and toys, however suitable or necessary to the dignity of the British aristocracy, would be completely out of place among those who have been brought up on the severe, and I believe immortal, principles of Republican simplicity.

Related Characters: Mr. Hirsham B. Otis (speaker), Virginia E. Otis, Lord Canterville
Page Number: 59-60
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Canterville Ghost LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Canterville Ghost PDF

Mr. Hirsham B. Otis Character Timeline in The Canterville Ghost

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Hirsham B. Otis appears in The Canterville Ghost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
Mr. Hirsham B. Otis, an American minister, has just purchased the estate Canterville Chase from Lord... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Commercialism and Politics Theme Icon
Mr. Otis laughs at Lord Canterville’s belief in haunting, saying that the Otis family comes from... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Mr. and Mrs. Otis hold a serious conversation about how to deal with a fainting housekeeper.... (full context)
Chapter 2 
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Commercialism and Politics Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
...but it comes back the next morning, and again on the third morning, as well. Mr. Otis begins to wonder if he was too quick to dismiss Lord Canterville’s warnings about... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
...this, well after the family has gone to sleep. His efforts have an immediate effect: Mr. Otis is awakened at the first sound. (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Commercialism and Politics Theme Icon
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Mr. Otis is unimpressed by Sir Simon’s act, however; he comes out from the bedroom to... (full context)
Chapter 3
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Commercialism and Politics Theme Icon
The next morning, the whole family openly discusses Sir Simon. Mr. Otis is upset to discover that Sir Simon hasn’t taken the bottle of lubricating oil.... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
...realize who it is, however, the twins shoot the ghost with their toy guns, and Mr. Otis levels a real gun at him, demanding that Sir Simon put his hands in... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Commercialism and Politics Theme Icon
...worked well for him in the past against the current Lord Canterville’s uncle. However, as Mr. Otis and the twins are quickly approaching, Sir Simon instead grumpily resorts to walking through... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Once he’s done with Washington, Sir Simon plans to scare Mr. and Mrs. Otis by touching them with his ghostly hands and whispering to them secrets... (full context)
Chapter 4 
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
After Sir Simon’s disappearance, the Otis family begins to live their life normally. Mr. Otis resumes writing a book on the history of the Democratic party. Mrs. Otis organizes... (full context)
Chapter 6 
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
Mr. and Mrs. Otis are quick to notice Virginia’s absence and they instantly raise a cry... (full context)
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
...Canterville Chase, searchers drag the pond and scour the entire property to no avail. Exhausted, Mr. Otis orders everyone back home, where they eat a solemn meal together before retiring to... (full context)
Chapter 7
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The British Aristocracy vs. American Vulgarity Theme Icon
Mercy and Empathy Theme Icon
Appearance, Reality, and Sincerity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)