Let me start by saying I LOVE Oscar Wilde. I LOVE his work. Love it. I've even pre-ordered the British DVD of Dorian Gray with Ben Barnes since it never had a US release and I trained my computer to be able to play region 2 DVDs. I know it's not very faithful to the books but it has to be better than the 2006 version that was badly acted and made Basil a woman and set it in the 1960s.
My two favourite works by Oscar Wilde are The Picture of Dorian Gray and the novella, The Canterville Ghost.
The plot of The Canterville Ghost is pretty straight forward. A very theatrical old ghost haunts a castle in rural England. Turns out he murdered his wife so he was starved to death and cursed. An American family moves into the castle and the story becomes a funny spoof of British propriety and American commercialism as the American family annoys the Hell out of the ghost trying to scare them away.
The ghost ends up befriending the teenage daughter of the family, fifteen-year-old, Virginia Otis. A prophecy is discovered:
'When a gentle girl can win
Prayer from out the lips of sin,
When a child gives up tears
And the barren almost bears,
When the silent chapel bell
Sounds the ghostly sinner's knell
Then shall the house be still
And peace shall come to Canterville.'
And needless to say Virginia helps the ghost, Sir Simon de Canterville, to move on. There's also a sweet little subplot where she ends up with the young duke whom lives near by. This subplot is expanded in the 1996 film adaptation. Many films leave it out all together. It's a simple story and very sweet though I do actually feel Patrick Stewart's version is a lot more sympathetic than his own book counter part whom at points didn't seem to regret killing his wife at all really and was a bit petty too. Though I do still love the book I ust feel Patrick Stewart added something to the character of Sir Simon de Cantervllle that originally wasn't there.
This is a classic story in true Oscar Wilde wit and flair. It's both haunting and funny. It's very well written and a beautiful tale for all ages.