The Twins: Stars and Stripes in The Canterville Ghost

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“The Twins were mischievous brats, but they were intelligent mischief makers.” — Discuss the validity of the statement by examining the tricks played on the Ghost by the twins.


      The twins often referred to as “Stars and Stripes” were the youngest sons of Mr. and Mrs. Otis. They were quite young, probably nine or ten years old. Though their exact age is not specifically mentioned anywhere by the author, but from their activities and behaviour, it appears they cannot be older than this. They were without question very sharp-witted and intelligent. All the myriad number of tricks they played on the poor Ghost were aimed at humiliating and harassing him, so that he would be incapacitated and would not trouble anyone anymore.

      The first thing the twins did to the Ghost was to throw a pillow at him for disturbing their sleep on the first night. The next night, they shot him with pellets from their pea shooters. Their master-stroke was to piece together another ghost with lights blazing from its, eyes, from various household goods. They even wrote a message on a placard that the “Otis Ghost” was the “onlie true and originate, spooks, while all other ghosts were “counterfeite ”. Seeing it, the Canterville Ghost was scared out of his wits, because he had never before laid his eyes on a ghost. And, sometime later, upon coming back to it, he discovered how he had been tricked and felt deeply humiliated and disgraced. This was a particularly clever trick played by the twins because it robbed the Ghost of his self-honor and made him frustrated, as well as sick.

      The next time, the twins had already anticipated that the Ghost would come back to take revenge and took appropriate measures to trouble and humiliate him further. Accordingly, as the Ghost pushed open the door of their bedroom in the guise of the c Headless Earl,’ a jug filled with water was upset on him, drenching him thoroughly. The startled Ghost fled and caught a bad cold. This was another triumph for the twins, who gradually advanced towards the fulfillment of their objective, viz. to stop the Ghost or drive him away from the house in angry frustration. They stretched wires across the corridor so that the Ghost tripped on those. They also prepared a butter slide on the staircase and the Ghost slipped and suffered a nasty fall. The Ghost was now positively afraid of the twins and even desisted from scaring the Little Duke for fear of them.

      But still, the twins correctly foresaw that the stubborn Ghost would not give up so soon. So the next night, they enrolled their elder brother Washington to join hands with them, and as the Ghost expectedly appeared, they jumped on him out of a dark corner and each shouted “BOO!” very loudly in each of his ears. The Ghost panicked and found his escape route to the stairs blocked by Washington Otis, so that he had to escape through the chimney passage, getting dirty and covered with black soot. He now capitulated completely and surrendered, and kept himself confined to his room in a state of great dejection and misery. The mission of the twins was now complete and successful.

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