The sale of Canterville Chase symbolizes a profound change in sociopolitical power in England. In the past, very few people in England owned the land on which they lived, and most landowners were also members of the aristocracy. Land ownership was therefore inextricably tied to power and prestige—even the ability to vote was tied to an individual’s status as a land owner. However, under the rule of Queen Victoria, much of that changed. From 1832 onward, voting reforms were passed that increasingly allowed those without land to vote, resulting in a shift in power away from the landed aristocracy and towards the common man. It is in precisely this moment that Lord Canterville sells Canterville Chase to the American Mr. Otis. Thus, this sale is more than just an exchange of money for land: Lord Canterville is openly showing that land no longer meant what it had in England. It no longer represented political power and prestige, but was instead now merely a commodity whose only value was in the money it could fetch on the market. More than that, though, Lord Canterville is symbolically transferring that voting power previously associated with land ownership (and thus the British aristocracy) to the American system (represented by Mr. Otis and family), which promised equality for all and had accordingly begun abandoning land ownership requirements for voting as early as 1792.
Canterville Chase Quotes in The Canterville Ghost
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.