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Анализ отрывка из произведения «Кентервильское привидение» Оскара Уйльда («The storm raged fiercely all that night...») (Английская Литература)

The extract under analysis is taken from the novel “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wild. In my opinion, one of the subjects raised in the story is people’s attitude to unknown things and phenomena. It is about human nature that warns us against everything we have never seen before. Our brain produces special impulses which encourage us to keep of the unknown. Certainly, it is a good function for survival, but sometimes it only spoils our life. One of the characters is a ghost who has a brilliant carrier as a bandit whose pranks have destroyed the lives of some people. They were afraid of him because it was a paranormal phenomenon. I suppose that the first thought that crossed their minds when they saw him was that he intended to murder them.

Judging from the detailed description of his tricks, it was not he who injured them but their fear.

ut when he comes to Mr Otis, he is met in a completely different way that makes him flee to a secret chamber as a terrified mouse.

The composition of events is rather structured. It contains some main structural parts. They are exposition, rising actions, climax, falling actions. The passage starts with the exposition where the author writes about the mystery bloody stain. The tension is being grown when the family comes back from a drive. It seems that nothing predicts anything unusual but as soon as Mr Otis hears suspicious noise behind the door the suspense only increases. When I read the text for the first time, I expected Mr Otis to get his feet cold when he opened the door so this moment could be considered a climax.

ut I guess that the sentence where two little white-robed figures toss a large pillow into the ghost is a climax. Apart from it, it represents an exclamatory sentence that intensifies stress. It makes rather a curious situation because I believe most of the readers are sure that Mr Otis and his family will run away as soon as they see the unexpected guest.

ut it is the Centerville ghost whose honour is broken to piece by two small children. As soon as he gets to his secret place the level of stress drops. The mouthpiece is the narrator outside the story. His participation in the events is minimized because there is not a character who represents him.

The place of the happening is limited to the walls of Mr Otis’ house somewhere in America. This novel is also known as a humoristic fairytale. According to this fact, I guess that the described events would not take place equally well in any other place or period. Everything starting with the topics discussed by cultured Americans and ending with some features of their lifestyle refers to a certain period. I believe that if we try to replace the settings the story is likely to lose its national peculiarities.

The family of Mr Otis finds a bloody stain on the floor. It has been appearing in the same place for a few days in a row even when the library is locked. The family is puzzled. The next day they talk about the commonly-discussed things. In the evening they have a nice drive and gets home at eleven o’clock. At about one o’clock Mr Otis was awakened by the noise induced by an old man whose chains and manacles clatter terrible. He urges him to use a machine oil in an imperative tone and retires. Then two children tossed a large pillow into him. Seized with such terror, the ghost vanishes through the wall and appears in the small secret chamber. He is extremely insulted by the way these people treat him. He is thinking about his brilliant 300 hundred years career throughout which he has successfully spoilt the life of a dozen of people.

eing treated like dirt, he intends revenge.

As I have already mentioned the text contains almost all necessary parts of a story.

ut if I were asked to divide it into chapters, I would distinguish three of them. The first one would be “Mystery signs” covering the first several paragraphs when the family suspects that something unusual is happening. The next one would be titled “Strange meet” starting from the description of the day when the ghost shows himself. And the last one would be “Revenge” since it includes the ghost’s reflection about his past majesty and at the end, he takes up a goal to revenge people who have offended him so much.

“The Canterville Ghost” is a fairytale with a humorous mood that is dominant throughout the extract. It can be proved by the plot of the text which contains rather an ironic plot. The contradiction here is in the behaviour of Mr Otis’ family that leaves the ghost shocked. From his memories, we learn that the majority of his previous victims got serious mental and physical injuries after his visit.

ut at this time the head of the family even urges him to lubricate the chains that wake him up. Two small children who are expected to hide under the bed from his terrifying appearance toss a pillow into him. And all in one day! Apart from the plot, many stylistic devices increase the humour of the situation. Asyndeton in the sentence “…Mr Otis began to suspect that he had been too dogmatic in his denial of the existence of ghosts, Mrs Otis expressed her…” used to emphasize how quickly the members of the family turn from being critics to believers. After the bloody stain appears again they do not try to replace their residence but start doing researches to figure out what is going on. Another case of usage asyndeton can be found in the sentence “The subjects discussed, as I have since learned from Mr Otis…”. This device here is due to the necessity to create a calm atmosphere to divert the reader’s attention as though nothing strange is going to happen. Simile (“It sounded like the clank of metal”) used to convey how loud the sound is especially at one o’clock when the whole house is silent. The author also turns to simile (“His eyes were as red burning coals”) when Mr Otis sees his guest. Here it perfectly reflects how scary he is. There is a sentence which contains a gradual increase in emotional tension that is also intensified by the usage of the exclamatory:

The next stylistic device worth mentioning is metonymy (“the house became quite quiet”) that bears a new contradiction. I suppose there is hardly a person who after meeting a dead man just goes to bed. The author uses an inversion (“…had he been so grossly insulted”) to emphasize the extent of his indignation. The last device I want to underline is a parallel construction used in the piece of text that describes the career path of the ghost to highlight how successful he has been plaguing people for hundreds of years. Though the language used by the speaker is rather simple it is commonly mixed with various stylistic devices that make it extremely riveting.

The author does not pay a lot of attention to the portraits of the characters. There is only a sentence that describes the appearance of the ghost. From their actions, we see that their family has strong family ties. They are sensible people who eager to find the source of the problem but not to avoid it. That’s why they direct their forces to find out what is going on. Certainly, the most memorable character here is the Canterville ghost. I am not sure whether it is wise to judge his actions as a mystical creature but of course, there is nothing that is worth respect in what he has been doing for years.

The opinion of the author is not expressed directly here. I guess that he feels sorry for the ghost who is not used to such a disrespectful attitude. At the same time, he kindly laughs at him. Mr Otis and his family deserve to get an award for their inquisitiveness and bravery. In general, I share his feelings. This text is far different from an ordinary short story that’s why it is so gripping.


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