The tale of Scrooge’s redemption by a visit from his dead business partner and subsequently the three Ghosts of Christmas (Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) has become a defining tale of the Christmas holiday period.
Description of Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, a cold-hearted miser whose appearance matches his nature.
Scrooge’s catchphrase, “Bah, humbug!” is often used to express disgust with many of the modern Christmas traditions.
While he is preparing to go to bed on Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who had died seven years earlier on the same day.
Like Scrooge, Marley had spent his life hoarding his wealth and exploiting the poor, and as a result is damned to walk the Earth for eternity bound in the chains of his own greed.
Marley warns Scrooge that he risks meeting the same fate, and that as a final chance at redemption he will be visited by three spirits of Christmas: Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come.
Ghost of Christmas Past.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first of the three spirits to haunt Ebenezer Scrooge. This angelic spirit shows Scrooge scenes from his past that occurred on or around Christmas, in order to demonstrate to him the necessity of changing his ways, as well as to show the reader how Scrooge came to be a bitter, cold-hearted miser.
Ghost of Christmas Present.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is the second of the three spirits that haunt the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to prompt him to repent. When he first appears before Scrooge, he invites him to “come in and know me better, man.” According to Dickens’ novel, the Ghost of Christmas Present appears to Scrooge as “a jolly giant” with dark brown curls. He wears a fur-lined green robe and on his head a holly wreath set with shining icicles. He carries a large torch, made to resemble a cornucopia, and appears accompanied by a great feast. He states that he has had “more than eighteen hundred” brothers and later reveals the ability to change his size to fit into any space. He also bears a scabbard with no sword in it, a representation of peace on Earth and good will toward men.
The spirit transports Scrooge around the city, showing him scenes of festivity and also deprivation that are happening as they watch, sprinkling a little warmth from his torch as he travels. Amongst the visits are Scrooge’s nephew, and the family of his impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit and hs disabled son Tiny Tim.
The spirit finally reveals to Scrooge two emaciated children, subhuman in appearance and loathsome to behold, clinging to his robes, and names the boy as Ignorance and the girl as Want. The spirit warns Scrooge, “Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom unless the writing be erased.” The spirit once again quotes Scrooge, who asks if the grotesque children have “no refuge, no resource,” and the spirit retorts with more of Scrooge’s unkind words: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (often referred to as The Ghost Of Christmas Future) is a darker phantom than the other two ghosts and the spirit that Scrooge finds the most fearsome. It appears to him as a figure entirely muffled in a black hooded cloak, except for a single hand with which it points. Although the character never speaks in the story, Scrooge understands it, usually through assumptions from his previous experiences and rhetorical questions. It looks the way it does because it represents what the future holds for Scrooge if he does not change his ways. The Ghost shows Scrooge visions including one of the Cratchit house without Tiny Tim and of Scrooge’s death, his body picked upon by thieves.
The abused, underpaid clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit is a kind but very poor man with a large family and a very sick son, Tim. He works for Scrooge, copying letters in a cold dismal little cell. Bob Cratchit represents the opposite qualities to Scrooge including kindness, generosity and a love of his family members. His character has come to symbolize poor working conditions, especially long working hours. He wears tattered clothes as he cannot afford a coat. Cratchit is treated poorly by Scrooge and given a weekly salary that is insufficient to provide his family with a proper Christmas dinner.
Tim Cratchit (Tiny Tim).
Tiny Tim is Bob Cratchit’s youngest son. Disabled and walking with a crutch he still maintains a cheerful nature despite his ailments. When the Ghost of Christmas Present transports Scrooge around the city he shares a vision of Tiny Tim’s crutch, carefully preserved by the fireplace. Scrooge asks if the desperately ill Tim will die. The Ghost first states that “If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die,” then – quick to use Scrooge’s past unkind comments toward two charitable solicitors against him – suggests he “had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Mr Fezziwig is Scrooge’s first employer and the complete opposite in character of what Ebenezer would become. Full of life, Fezziwig is portrayed as a happy, foppish man with a large Welsh wig. The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to revisit his youthful days with Fezziwig where he is reminded how his own values have diverged greatly from those of someone he once admired. Although Fezziwig is also a businessman, he is more considerate and generous towards his employees. Fezziwig’s world, located at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, is believed to have been used by Dickens to represent a set of communal values and a way of life which was quickly being swept away in the economic turmoil of the early nineteenth century.
Fred is Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, the son of his beloved but now dead little sister, Fran. He is his only living relative and also the only person who wants to pull him out of the miserable isolated world he lives in and into a happier place.
Ebenezer Scrooge mocks Fred’s celebration of Christmas: “What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough”, says Scrooge to his nephew. To which Scrooge’s nephew replies: “What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough”.