The Lawyer and the Ghost by Charles Dickens

Summary: The Lawyer and the Ghost by Charles Dickens is a short story about a poor man and his encounter with a ghost in a very old, "ancient inn"


A Poor Man - Convinces Ghost to leave the harsh environment of his new acquired apartment

The Ghost - Tells the poor man to leave the apartment because the ghost thinks it is his

Section 1:

  • The narrator tells the audience of a man that long ago took a room in an ancient inn in London where he only had a few pieces of furniture including a "wooden press for papers" and very few clothes
  • The poor man talks to the wooden press and says that he would use it for fire if it wouldn't cost him afterwards
  • The poor man notices the ghost after the ghost groans twice and notices that the ghost was dressed in "soiled and worn apparel"
  • The poor man asks who the ghost is and points a "poker" at it; the ghost tells the poor man that if he used it that the poker would only do something to the wood behind him because he was a "spirit"
  • The poor man asks the "spirit" what he wanted
  • The ghost tells the poor man about the "harpies" that divided his wealth when he had died of "grief" to leave nothing for his "descendants"
  • The ghost scared them away and now reappears in the night because that's when he could "re-visit the earth" and view the scenes of his "long-protracted misery"
  • The ghost says to leave his apartment to him
  • The poor man says he would gladly leave the apartment to the ghost but asks him one question
  • The poor man asks points out to the ghost that there are other "fair" spots on the earth that he can visit other than this press in the apartment which convinces the ghost to leave and "try a change of air directly"
  • The poor man also tells the ghost to tell other "ladies and gentlemen" that they too can haunt other "comfortable" places than "empty houses" which would "benefit society"
  • The ghost says that he is part of a group of "dull fellows" and the ghost says that he was "stupid"
  • The ghost disappears and never returns

Other Notes:

  • Charles Dickens also makes another ghost story in A Christmas Carol
  • This short story shows an outcome probably quite different than what the common person would think and that is for the poor man to stick around and convince the ghost to leave
  • May be in a way this story would suggest that we find out what a ghost is all about instead of running away immediately in such a situation if perhaps such a scenario should arise

© 2009 copyright The Lawyer and the Ghost | Charles Dickens