“Lord Arthur Savile's Crime begins at Lady Windermere’s party. At this party, there are many people, ministers, princesses, peeresses, radicals, bishops, and even a chiromantist. Lady Windermere hired a chiromantist and states that she “can’t live without him present” (Wilde 149). When she tells the duchess that she must let him read her palm, it attracts a crowd from the party, including Lord Arthur, the main character within this short story. When he approaches the crowd, he is very intrigued by the palm reader. He goes to Lady Windermere and he asks her if the chiromantist would mind reading his palm. The palm reader studies Lord Arthurs hand and becomes pale. Lord Arthur is concerned, but the chiromantist, Mr. Podgers, claims that everything is perfectly fine. However, as the party continues to question him about it, Mr. Podgers finally reveals that a death of a distant relative will occur soon in Lord Arthur’s life. Afterwards, when the two are alone, the chiromantist informs Lord Arthur that there is a murder in his future and it will occur, inevitably. Lord Arthur continues to think, and comes to a realization that the murder may be of his fiancée, Sybil. In complete misery, Lord Arthur walks through the town trying to figure out what he will do to keep from murdering his future wife. He comes to realize that in order to keep from murdering Sybil, he must murder someone else. He goes through many attempts, and failures, of murdering a distant relative. First, he attempts to murder his Aunt, with poison he claims is medicine for her heartburn. After awhile, his Aunt dies. He is very pleased and tells Sybil that they can now get married again, but he soon finds out that his Aunt’s death is caused by natural causes. Once again, he postpones the wedding, and begins to plan yet another murder. He decides the explosives are the way to go this time. He sets out to find someone to help him plan this murder. They decide on a clock to go off and explode killing his uncle. On the day of the “hopeful” explosion, Lord Arthur is very anxious. He soon finds out that the bomb did in fact go off, but it was only a puff of smoke, leading many to believe it was a joke. Lord Arthur continues to fail over and over again, one relative after another. Finally, one night, Lord Arthur sees the chiromantist standing by a bridge. Lord Arthur throws him over the edge and finally feels relieved. He goes on to live a happy life with his wife. This is probably the silliest book I have ever read. I found it quiet humorous that in order to avoid murder, Lord Arthur intends to murder someone… Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime is a gothic, satire. The theme of Wilde's short story, may be that you have to complete your duties, however humorous they are. Lord Arthur sets out on this mission to murder someone, and does not rest until he completes his goal. Within Wilde’s writing is a lot of imagery. Almost every aspect of the short story was able to jump out at the reader because of its vividness. I was very fond of this brilliant imagery because it makes the reader feel as if he is in the story. I found this story very interesting…
The Model Millionaire is another short story written by Oscar Wilde. The story begins with the first person narrator describing Hughie Erskine. He is a very handsome and kind man. However he is not incredibly bright or able to keep a job. Hughie goes over to his friend, Trevor’s home. Trevor is an incredible artist and when Hughie comes over, Trevor is painting an incredible painting of a very poor man in ragged clothes. In despair for this poor man, he expresses his sorrow and offers the man something to help. The nest day, Trevor informs Hughie that the ragged old man was actually not a poor man, but actually a millionaire who wanted to be painted as a beggar. Hughie is extremely embarrassed that he offered a millionaire something for his troubles. However, the millionaire, Baron Haursberg, comes to his house thanking him for his kindness and a check for £10,000 to help pay for Hughie’s upcoming wedding. I found that this story had very good morals. I believe the theme of this short story is that if you are always kind and sincere to people, you will be benefited in the end. This short story was only four pages, yet Wilde was able to compose a story with such great morals within in these pages. Once again, Wilde's imagery is outstanding. I liked this short story more than i did with Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. Maybe because it has a good message, rather than the topic being murder.
I found The Sphinx without a Secret, written by Oscar Wilde, a very interesting short story. The entire story is of a man, Lord Murchison’s past love interest. He begins telling the story to Gerald by showing him a picture of Lady Alroy. He had seen her one evening in a yellow brougham, and she rather intrigued him. About a week later he runs into her once again, and confesses that he had seen her. She is rather embarrassed and asks him not to tell anyone where she saw him. Confused and intrigued by her mysteriousness, he writes a letter of his apologies to her. Awhile later, she writes him telling him that he mustn’t write to her address again and gives him another one. Their relationship begins to flourish, in spite the fact she continues to keep secrets from him. Finally, he decides he will propose to Lady Alroy in order to hopefully discover her mysteriousness. That day he sees her rushing into a building, hidden by her veil. That same evening, he confronts her. She is hocked and claims that it was nothing. Frightened by her secrecy, Lord Murchison starts to believe that she is seeing someone else. Saddened by his accusation, Lady Alroy tells him that that is not the case, but rather she was just there. He, unfortunately, does not believe her, and she dies a month later of a chill. Lord Murchison is devastated, he truly loved this woman, but her mystery drove them apart. He goes to the building she walked into that day, and finds that it is an art studio, when Lady Alroy had just gone to sit and watch the painter. She had always been very secretive and mysterious, and this kind of drove him mad in the end. After he had finished his story, he asks Gerald if he believes that everything had been true; if she really did just go there to watch. Gerald states that she was “a Sphinx without a secret” (Wilde 178). He believes that she had just loved the element of mystery, but never had anything to be mysterious about. The immense power of secrets is a powerful theme that Oscar Wilde presents in several of his short stories. The supposed secrets of Lady Alroy were able to end their relationship. When secrets are kept, people generally make rash and stupid assumptions. I liked this story a lot, I found it very intriguing. I loved the elements of mystery that continued throughout the entire short story. I loved that even the last line leaves the reader wondering.
The Title itself, The Canterville Ghost, intrigued me. The reader immediately knows that this story will be a suspense filled with supernatural elements, such as a ghost, however, little does the reader know, the story is quite funny. The story begins with Mr. Otis, a minister from the states, being warned of the house that he wants to purchase. It is known for being haunted horrible spirit. The Canterville’s themselves refuse to live in the house because they have had personal experience with this ghost; their great-aunt went crazy upon an encounter with the ghost and other relatives have died. In spite of the horror stories he is being told, Mr. Otis refuses to be even remotely scared of the supposed ghost and buys the house anyways. A few weeks later, Mr. Otis’s family begins to move in to the Canterville Chase. Mr. Otis’s family is well respected. He had a wife, three sons—two of which are twins—and a daughter. On a beautiful day in July they move into the chase, however once they reach the street the chase is on, the sky turns dreary; this is very typical foreshadowing that the Canterville Chase does not bring good things… Upon their entering of the chase, Mrs. Otis sees a blood stain on the ground. The housekeeper states that the blood stain is of Lady Eleanore de Canterville when she was murdered by her husband on that very spot. Still, the Otis’s remain unscathed by fear. The next morning the blood stain appeared once again, and continued to reappear every morning. Finally, the family’s lack of belief in this ghost begins to disappear: “That night all doubts about the objective existence of phantasmata were removed for ever” (Wilde 181). Later, the family comes home with no worry of this potentially evil spirit and goes to bed. That night at one o’clock in the morning, Mr. Otis is awakened by the rattling of chains. He goes out to the hallway where an old man with red eyes stands. Mr. Otis then states very calmly that the ghost oils the chains so he doesn’t wake up his family anymore. The ghost, in complete and utter shock, runs off moaning trying to do everything to scare this family. The family remains undisturbed by the ghost for quite some time; however the reappearing blood stains maintains to show up every morning. The family actually jokes about the changing colors of the blood, everyone that is, but Virginia. The second time the family sees the ghost, the twins push over a knight’s amour on to him, leaving the ghost in pain. Still the Otis’s are un-frightened leaving the ghost ridiculously frustrated. He plans yet another attempt to scare this family. Like all of the others, this plan ends in failure. Actually this time, the twins are the ones scaring the ghost… The ghost is terrified by this ghost he sees, although it is just a fake ghost the twins made, and he runs away, hiding his face with his boney hands—literally—crawling up in to a ball on his bed. Attempt after attempt, scary costume after scary costume, there is nothing this poor ghost can do to frighten the Otis’s. Finally the ghost gives up. This leaves the twins rather unsatisfied; I guess they liked torturing the ghost… Awhile later, Virginia sees the ghost sitting alone and depressed. She pities him and offers her help. He tells her that all he wants to do is to die, to sleep, and to remain peaceful. The ghost is no longer fulfilled by haunting and wants to retire to the Garden of Death. He takes her to the ghostly realm, where she and Death meet, but this meeting, and what goes on during it, is not described. She succeeds in her mission, and the Canterville Ghost disappears. Virginia takes her family, upon her return, to a hidden dungeon where the ghost’s skeleton is chained up. The family holds a funeral for the ghost. To thank Virginia, the ghost gave her a box of jewelry, and the daughter marries the duke, Cecil, wearing a ruby necklace the ghost had given her before his release. I believe that the theme of this short story is that one must realize the life is important, but without death, one cannot really love. Virginia realizes this in the end of the story when she is talking to her husband. He asks her what happened to her in the ghostly realm, but she says that she owes a lot to the ghost for everything he taught her: “he made me see what life is, ad what death signifies, and why love is stronger than both” (Wilde 197). I found this book suspenseful, but very comical. Towards the end of the story, the humorous elements begin to fade and the story becomes rather sentimental. I liked this story a lot; it always kept the reader guessing. Wilde uses a lot of personification and imagery to help the reader clearly develop pictures in his mind of everything that commences in the book. In every one of these short stories the diction and syntax was very similar. All of the characters, except for the Otis’s were English, and Wilde made that very clear with their dialect. They were all rather similar, but while reading The Canterville Ghost, the diction changes because they are American. Wilde was able to clearly differentiate these two dialects. ”
Annie H wrote this review Tuesday, October 9, 2012.