A Ghost Story By Mark Twain Short Summary

Mark Twain’s classic ghost story is a thrilling tale of summoning an elusive spirit and trying to solve a mystery. The story follows four characters as they attempt to conjure the spirit of a past resident of their town, in the hopes of recovering a long-lost family heirloom.

Mark Twain is known for his darkly humourous writing, and this ghost story follows in that vein. The story is cleverly crafted, with a hint of the supernatural at every turn, leaving readers guessing as to the outcome.

At its heart, this is a story about the power of imagination and the desire for something more. The characters are drawn together in their quest for a lost relic, and the journey that ensues sparks creative ideas about the unknown.

The story begins with the characters gathering at an old house to summon the spirit of its former inhabitant. They perform the ritual, accompanied by the eerie sounds of an old piano playing in the background. As the ritual nears its climax, a chill descends upon them, and the ghost is summoned.

The ghost, however, fails to provide the information they were hoping for, and instead gives them a series of cryptic riddles. Working feverishly to solve the riddles, the characters soon realize that they are in over their heads.

The story takes a dramatic turn when they finally solve the riddles, and the solution leads them to a dark and sinister secret. The secret reveals the tragic history of the former inhabitant, and the twists and turns of the mystery make for a gripping read.

Mark Twain’s classic ghost story is a thrilling tale that is sure to keep readers guessing until the very end. It is a perfect blend of adventure and suspense, with a hint of the supernatural, which give it a haunting yet ultimately satisfying conclusion.

Background of the story

The classic ghost story by Mark Twain first appeared in the December, 1874 issue of the American magazine ‘The Atlantic’. It was one of Twain’s more popular stories, and it soon gained a devoted following.

The story follows a group of four individuals who unwittingly find themselves in an intriguing adventure. They have come together to summon the spirit of an old inhabitant of their town in the hope of recovering a long-lost family heirloom.

Though they are unsure of what to expect, they proceed to summon the ghost, and as they reach the climax of the ritual, a chill descends upon them. Suddenly, the ghost appears in the room and begins to speak in riddles, stoking their curiosity and pushing them further into the mystery.

In solving the riddles, the group embark on a thrilling and suspenseful journey that leads them right to the heart of a shocking secret. The captivating mystery of the story quickly drew readers in, and its mysterious and sinister undertones kept them immersed until the very end.

Analysis of the Characters

The characters of this classic ghost story are well-developed and memorable. The main protagonists are four individuals — a husband, wife, and their two friends — who have come together in search of a lost relic. They are determined and resourceful, and their interactions are frequently humorous.

The characters are also strongly-motivated, driven by their curiosity and ambition to solve the mystery. The group is united in their quest for the relic, and it is this sense of unity and purpose that ultimately leads them to triumph over the spooky ghost.

With a combination of courage and wit, the characters are ultimately able to defeat the ghost and uncover the truth. The success of the group’s mission is testament to their heroic and creative nature, and the story serves as a reminder that with resilience and courage, even the most mysterious of problems can be solved.

Reception of the Story

Mark Twain’s ghost story was met with wide acclaim upon its release. Critics praised the cleverly-crafted plot and the thrilling, suspenseful story-telling. The engaging dialogue and captivating mystery also earned the story praise, with many noting its humourous and sharp writing.

The story also resonated with readers, and its popularity soon soared. Fans of Mark Twain’s writing praised the story’s suspenseful nature and its unexpected twists and turns, and it soon became a classic of the horror genre.

Though the story has enjoyed success through the years, the ingenuity and originality of Twain’s writing still stands out today. It is a masterful piece of horror, comedy, and suspense all rolled into one, and it is sure to remain a classic for years to come.

Implications of the Story

This classic ghost story by Mark Twain carries with it broader implications for readers. The main characters of the story successfully overcome incredible odds in pursuit of a lost relic, highlighting the importance of resilience, ambition, and determined problem-solving.

It also serves as a reminder that the unknown can be a source of fascination and exploration. Through the rituals of summoning, the characters have an opportunity to explore an unfamiliar world and draw strength from it.

Finally, the story serves as a reminder of the power of curiosity and imagination. The characters of the story use their curiosity as a guiding force, and it ultimately leads them to triumph over the ghost. The story serves as an inspirational tale of the power of expertise and determination.

Symbolism in the Story

This classic ghost story by Mark Twain is replete with symbolism. The old house that the characters perform their ritual in has a strong symbolic presence, representing the physical embodiment of their dreams and actions. It is a place of mystery and, ultimately, a place of success.

The ghost itself is another powerful symbol of the unknown. It serves as an embodiment of the characters’ fears, and it is these fears that the characters must confront. In doing so, the characters are able to grapple with their own mortality and come to terms with their own mortality.

The family heirloom at the heart of the story is also symbolic, representing the weight of their past and the significance of their lineage. Twain’s use of symbols makes this classic ghost story a complex and thoughtful tale, and it is sure to captivate readers for years to come.

Style and Structure

The style and structure of Mark Twain’s classic ghost story is deftly crafted. It is a succinct and thrilling read that resists the temptation to ramble and instead opts for clarity and directness. Twain’s use of dialogue and humour adds a welcome respite from the supernatural elements of the story.

The hauntingly mysterious atmosphere of the story is heightened by Twain’s use of language and description. By evoking a sense of dread and intrigue, Twain is able to draw readers in and keep them captivated until the very end.

Twain’s classic ghost story also follows a classical structure, with a beginning, middle and end. This helps the story to progress in a clear, linear fashion, with the characters’ journey providing a satisfying arc. Each element of the story is carefully placed, resulting in a captivating read.


Mark Twain’s classic ghost story is a masterfully crafted tale of adventure and suspense. Its captivating mystery and thrilling atmosphere equal satisfaction for readers, and it has remained a classic of the horror genre throughout the years.

The story is driven by powerful characters and captivating symbolism, and Twain’s use of language and structure result in a read that is both moving and thought-provoking. This classic ghost story is sure to remain an enduring work of horror for years to come.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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