Ghost of Christmas Past

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Ghost of Christmas Past
A Christmas Carol - Mr. Fezziwig's Ball.jpg
Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig dance in a vision shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
First appearanceA Christmas Carol 1843
Created byCharles Dickens
 
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Ghost of Christmas Past
A Christmas Carol - Mr. Fezziwig's Ball.jpg
Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig dance in a vision shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
First appearanceA Christmas Carol 1843
Created byCharles Dickens

The Ghost of Christmas Past is a fictional character in the well-known work A Christmas Carol by the English novelist Charles Dickens.

Description[edit]

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first of the three spirits to haunt Ebenezer Scrooge. The 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, coldhearted miser.

According to Dickens' novel, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Scrooge as a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age. It has on its head a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame, and carries a metal cap, made in the shape of a candle extinguisher. While the ghost is often portrayed as a woman in dramatic adaptations of the story, Dickens describes the Ghost of Christmas Past only as “it”, and gives a curious description of it "being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away."[1]

Role in the story[edit]

After appearing in Scrooge's house, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes his hand and flies with him over London. He first shows Scrooge his old boarding school, where he stayed alone but for his books while his schoolmates returned to their homes for the Christmas holidays. The spirit then shows Scrooge the day when his beloved younger sister Fan picked him up from the school after repeatedly asking their father (described as a cold and unkind man) to allow his return. next, the spirit shows Scrooge a Christmas Eve a few years later in which he enjoys a Christmas party hosted by his first boss, Mr. Fezziwig.

The spirit also shows Scrooge the Christmas eve when, as a young man, his fiancée Belle ended their relationship upon realizing that he now cared more for money than he did for her. Finally, the spirit shows him how she married and found true happiness with another man. After this vision, Scrooge pleads with the spirit to show him no more, to which the spirit replies:

These are the shadows of things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me!

Angered, Scrooge extinguishes the spirit with his cap and finds himself back in his bedroom, the time on the clock not being changed.

Alterations[edit]

Various adaptations have added to the history shown by the Ghost. For example, in the 1984 film version of A Christmas Carol, the spirit shows Scrooge an encounter between him and his unloving father is shown, in which father tells him that Scrooge has had an apprenticeship arranged for him, and that his longed-for homecoming will last only three days.

Similarly, it is suggested in the same version that the reason for his father's coldness to him is that Scrooge's mother died giving birth to him and his father blames him. The conflict between this and the existence of his younger sister Fan is not resolved. In some versions, Fan is portrayed as older than Scrooge to avoid this confusion.

Appearance in various film adaptations[edit]

Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stave 2, note 7, Hearn, Michael P. 1989. The Annotated Christmas Carol / A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; illustrated by John Leach; with an introduction, notes and bibliography by Michael Patrick Hearn. Avenel Books. New York. ISBN 0-517-68780-1.