Virginia Characters Artificiality in The Canterville Ghost

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Do you think the character of Virginia is too artificial? Has the author created her just as a catalyst for reaching a pre-meditated, end to the story?


      It may indeed appear to many that Virginia is just the author’s mouthpiece, and he has brought her in only to convey his ultimate message through her. It is true that the first four chapters are filled with the capers of the mischievous twins and the lackadaisical reactions of their parents to the Ghost’s efforts to frighten them - Virginia is hardly referred to - and then abruptly in chapter 5, she assumes the role of the chief catalyst through whom the Ghost attains his salvation. From a comical, humiliated figure, the Ghost transforms into a pathetic, distressed and pitiable soul seeking Virginia’s help. The innate nature of the story changes totally.

      Though a story is a writer’s creation, its story-line or plot should follow a logically predictable line of incidence. Wilde does provide hints earlier by describing Virginia as a tomboy, a horse rider and an empathetic character with kindly feelings. This means she has the courage and the strength of character to interact with the Ghost fearlessly and undertake the journey to the world of Death. Wilde also includes an old poem written on the library window at Canterville Chase containing a prophecy about the advent of a young girl - Virginia, as it happens - bringing peace to the troubled house. So she cannot really be called an artificial character created by the author for his convenience.

“He made me see what Life is, and what Death signifies, and why Love is stronger than both.”

      Explain the significance of these words spoken by Virginia to her husband; The Ghost suffered deeply for three centuries. He was rejected by Death and had to exist in limbo, neither alive nor truly dead, and a supreme force compelled him to haunt Canterville Chase and frighten innocent guests and residents. This was his punishment for having sinned grievously when alive. He had not known or tried to appreciate the value of Life. After listening to his story, Virginia realized that one must do justice to Life by trying to enrich and ennoble it with good deeds. She also realized from the Ghost’s yearning for death that one must not fear Death, because it is a beautiful state of being which enables the soul to rest in timeless peace and unending joy.

      She found out that the evil and hated Ghost was actually a lonely and dejected figure who craved for Love. Virginia became aware of the power of Love by offering it herself. It was her love and compassion which both transformed the Ghost and rescued him from the dark world in which he was trapped. Virginia saw how profoundly happy the Ghost was to be awarded the chance to die properly at last, and the supreme realization dawned in her mind that Love is stronger than both Life and Death.

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