The Canterville Ghost

by

Oscar Wilde

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Sir Simon de Canterville Character Analysis

Sir Simon is the titular character of The Canterville Ghost. He has been an inhabitant Canterville Chase all his life and its ghost since 1584, when, for unexplained reasons, he killed his wife (leaving the infamous bloodstain on the sitting-room floor) and was subsequently murdered by his brothers-in-law, who starved him to death and left his body entombed in a secret chamber within the estate. Sir Simon treats his haunting of Canterville Chase as though it were a job, and it is a position he takes quite seriously. To this end, he has created several gruesome caricatures of his own making, each with its own unique assortment of props, costumes, and scare tactics in order to scare unsuspecting members of the Canterville family. For three hundred years, the Canterville family has lived in absolute terror of Sir Simon, and some Cantervilles have even killed themselves as a result of Sir Simon’s antics. For this very reason, Lord Canterville and his family declined to live in Canterville Chase, making its sale to the Otis family possible. However, the Americans are so fundamentally different from the aristocracy Sir Simon is used to, that he finds himself unable to repeat his past successes. They seem utterly immune to his strategies and, through their constant foiling of his plans, quickly wear him down into a state of physical sickness and exhaustion. Feeling increasingly weary and irrelevant, Sir Simon eventually asks Mr. Otis’ daughter, Virginia, for help—a request that ultimately leads to him finding peace and eternal rest. This salvation was predicted by a prophecy inscribed on the library window of Canterville Chase, which also stated that the property’s barren almond tree would again blossom once Sir Simon finally passed on.

Sir Simon de Canterville Quotes in The Canterville Ghost

The The Canterville Ghost quotes below are all either spoken by Sir Simon de Canterville or refer to Sir Simon de Canterville. 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:
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). 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:

Right in front of him was standing a horrible spectre, motionless as a carven image, and monstrous as a madman’s dream! Its head was bald and burnished; its face round, and fat, and white; and hideous laughter seemed to have writhed its features into an eternal grin. From the eyes streamed rays of scarlet light, the mouth was a wide well of fire, and a hideous garment, like to his own, swathed with its silent snows the Titan form. On its breast was a placard with strange writing in antique characters, some scroll of shame it seemed, some record of wild sins, some awful calendar of crime, and, with its right hand, it bore aloft a falchion of gleaming steel.

Related Characters: Sir Simon de Canterville
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4  Quotes

He had not appeared in this disguise for more than seventy years; in fact, not since he had so frightened pretty Lady Barbara Modish by means of it, that she suddenly broke off her engagement with the present Lord Canterville's grandfather, and ran away to Gretna Green with handsome Jack Castletown,

declaring that nothing in the world would induce her to marry into a family that allowed such a horrible phantom to walk up and down the terrace at twilight. Poor Jack was afterwards shot in a duel by Lord Canterville on Wandsworth Common, and Lady Barbara died of a broken heart at Tunbridge Wells before the year was out. So, in every way, it had been a great success.

Related Symbols: Canterville Chase
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

He now gave up all hope of ever frightening this rude American family, and contented himself, as a rule, with creeping about the passages in list slippers, with a thick red muffler round his throat for fear of draughts, and a small arquebuse, in case he should be attacked by the twins.

Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“It is absurd asking me to behave myself,” he answered looking round in astonishment at the pretty little girl who had ventured to address him, "quite absurd. I must rattle my chains, and groan through keyholes, and walk about at night, if that is what you mean. It is my only reason for existing.”

"It is no reason at all for existing, and you know you have been very wicked. Mrs. Umney told us, the first day we arrived here, that you had killed your wife."

"Well, I quite admit it," said the Ghost, petulantly, "but it was a purely family matter, and concerned no one else."

"It is very wrong to kill any one," said Virginia, who at times had a sweet puritan gravity, caught from some old New England ancestor.

Related Characters: Sir Simon de Canterville (speaker), Virginia E. Otis (speaker), Mrs. Umney
Related Symbols: Canterville Chase
Page Number: 41-42
Explanation and Analysis:

"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:

When a golden girl can win

Prayer from out the lips of sin,

When the barren almond bears,

And a little child gives away its tears,

Then shall all the house be still,

And peace come to Canterville

Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6  Quotes

Imbedded in the wall was a huge iron ring, and chained to it was a gaunt skeleton, that was stretched out at full length on the stone floor, and seemed to be trying to grasp with its long fleshless fingers an old-fashioned trencher and ewer, that were placed just out of its reach. The jug had evidently been once filled with water, as it was covered inside with green mould. There was nothing on the trencher but a pile of dust. Virginia knelt down beside the skeleton, and, folding her little hands together, began to pray silently, while the rest of the party looked on in wonder at the terrible tragedy whose secret was now disclosed to them.

Related Symbols: Canterville Chase
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

“Hallo!” suddenly exclaimed one of the twins, who had been looking out of the window to try and discover in what wing of the house the room was situated. “Hallo! The old withered almond-tree has blossomed. I can see the flowers quite plainly in the moonlight.”

Related Characters: The Otis Twins (speaker), Sir Simon de Canterville, Virginia E. Otis
Related Symbols: The Almond Tree
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Canterville Ghost LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Canterville Ghost PDF

Sir Simon de Canterville Character Timeline in The Canterville Ghost

The timeline below shows where the character Sir Simon de Canterville appears in The Canterville Ghost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...centuries old and a real tourist attraction to boot, as it marks the spot where Sir Simon de Canterville murdered his wife in 1575. Mrs. Umney adds that Sir Simon himself disappeared... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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That night, Sir Simon de Canterville makes his first ghostly appearance. He’s decided to try to scare the family... (full context)
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Mr. Otis is unimpressed by Sir Simon ’s act, however; he comes out from the bedroom to calmly offer Sir Simon a... (full context)
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Alone in his hidden, secret chamber of a bedroom, Sir Simon considers what has just happened. He is angry and shaken up, though his memories of... (full context)
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Sir Simon says (to himself) that he’s quite sure no ghost has ever been treated so poorly... (full context)
Chapter 3
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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... (full context)
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Finally, Sir Simon decides again to scare the family. He hopes to accomplish this by donning his old... (full context)
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Again, Sir Simon flees in a mix of anger and dismay, but he manages to collect his wits... (full context)
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Alone with his thoughts, Sir Simon reveals that he didn’t knock the armor over, but rather that it had become too... (full context)
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In bed, Sir Simon hatches his newest, best plan for scaring the Otis family. He assembles an elaborate costume... (full context)
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Once he’s done with Washington, Sir Simon plans to scare Mr. and Mrs. Otis by touching them with his ghostly hands and... (full context)
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As Sir Simon walks down the hallway to begin his plans, though, he stumbles across a monstrous specter... (full context)
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After some thought, Sir Simon remembers that he is a ghost and should therefore not be afraid of other ghosts.... (full context)
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Truly upset by this tactic, Sir Simon vows that, after the rooster had crowed twice that morning, “deeds of blood would be... (full context)
Chapter 4 
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Sir Simon spends the next week in bed as a result of his failures, the counterfeit ghost,... (full context)
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When these duties require Sir Simon to use his chains in the hallway, he makes sure to remove his shoes and... (full context)
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These traps include strings being stretched across the corridor for Sir Simon to trip over, as well as the construction of a slide greased with butter constructed... (full context)
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Sir Simon ruminates for a long time on how best to accomplish this task. Ultimately, he decides... (full context)
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As a result of being soaked, Sir Simon comes down with a cold and resigns himself, again, to leaving the Otis family alone.... (full context)
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Afterwards, Sir Simon gives up all of his ghostly duties. This does not, however, dissuade the twins from... (full context)
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After Sir Simon ’s disappearance, the Otis family begins to live their life normally. Mr. Otis resumes writing... (full context)
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...visit from a friend of the Canterville family, the young Duke of Cheshire (whose family Sir Simon has terrorized for centuries during such visits), is almost enough to inspire the ghost—said to... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...by, and Virginia—who has been out in the fields with the Duke of Cheshire—stumbles upon Sir Simon as he sits staring out a window in a funk. She tells the ghost that... (full context)
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Sir Simon replies that, while it wasn’t nice to kill his wife, he had his reasons—though he... (full context)
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Sir Simon appreciates the gesture but declines Virginia’s sandwich. He tells her that she’s much nicer than... (full context)
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Virginia suggests that Sir Simon might prefer to immigrate to America, but the ghost doesn’t think he’d like it there.... (full context)
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Virginia agrees to help, though Sir Simon warns her that it might be scary. Together, they disappear into an unknown portion of... (full context)
Chapter 6 
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...her father that the casket contains beautiful jewels given to her by the ghost of Sir Simon before he passed on. Then she bids the entire family to come and see Sir... (full context)
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...of food that has turned, long ago, to dust. God, Virginia declares solemnly, has forgiven Sir Simon and allowed him to rest at last. The twins confirm this when they notice the... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Since Sir Simon ’s physical body has at last been discovered, Lord Canterville arranges a grand funeral for... (full context)
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...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... (full context)