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Jacob Marley - Christmas Carol

Categories A Christmas Carol

Essay, Pages 5 (1203 words)



Essay, Pages 5 (1203 words)

The first supernatural being to visit Scrooge is the ghost of Jacob Marley – Scrooge’s deceased working partner. The appearance of this spirit is directly similar to what Marley wore in his first life when he was a slave to money – exactly like Scrooge. These same working clothes show how he is still chained down by the burden of money and that his afterlife has been made rather painful by being a slave to work. Marley’s ghost is warning Scrooge that if he doesn’t change his character, he will too be burdened in his afterlife.

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The spirit also foretells the appearance of three more ghosts. A creepy atmosphere is built up by Dickens before Marley is seen. Scrooge’s door knocker changes into Marley’s face ‘the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. Dickens use of adjectives here effectively makes this image rather disturbing. Dickens also uses another supernatural presence to spook the readers, ‘a disused bell….

It was with great astonishment, and with a strange inexplicable dread, that, as he looked, he saw the bell about to swing.

‘ Scrooges astonishment and the use of the word disused conjures a picture in the readers mind suggesting that this bell cannot ring, this making the reader want to know why it is doing so? All the bells swiftly cease as unexpectedly as they had started. The bells were ‘succeeded by a clanking noise deep down below’ we are then told that the cellar door hastily opens. ‘then he heard the noise much louder on the floors below; then coming up the stairs, then coming straight towards his door’ the repetition of the word ‘then’ is very powerful here because it tells us that this ghost is moving quickly towards his destination, Scrooge.

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As Marley enters the room we are told in great detail about his appearance. The chains ‘clasped about his middle’ and all the different items that are wrought to the chain all symbolize money and greed of the spirit. The cash-boxes and the keys all represent the hiding away of money and keeping the wealth to themselves and not sharing the abundance of money. The imagery of heavy objects such as the ‘padlocks’ and ‘steel purses’ show how laden the ghost is with the weight of the money.

The ‘ledgers’ and ‘deeds’ show the detailed accounts of money and proper ownership and this is a symbol that everything has to be accounted for, no money can pass by the scrutiny of the accountant which is so true to Scrooge’s life. Apart from being immensely weighted down by his possessions of greed which held back his life, Marley was transparent. This was so obvious that Scrooge could see the two buttons on the back of his coat. This transparency conveys the sense that this person was never a normal human; he was a chilling figure who lacked some human qualities that most usual persons have.

This is a ghost who freezes the presence around him with his ‘death cold eyes’ and his ‘chilling influence’, he is cold, like his life. He has no real substance and the only apparent clear images Scrooge can see of this spirit are the symbols of hoarding, selfishness and greed. However Dickens was ultimately writing a Christmas novella and does not want to totally terrify his readers, Dickens wanted to get his message across which was to treat others kindly and with respect no matter which class they were in. We see Dickens weaving in little bits of humour to uplift the reader’s spirits and relieve the tension that has already built up.

After being told the appearance of the ghost was transparent we then hear “Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now. ” The lack of this certain internal; organ is meant to make the reader laugh making the story more palatable. In spite of some humorous touches Marley presence is suppose to have a serious message for Scrooge and an impact on all of the readers. Dickens wants to make it clear to everyone that Marley lives in torment because of the way he lived his life, he is trying to make people change there ways with certain subtle well chosen words.

He also shows people how they may be tormented in the afterlife, which Victorians were very curious about, as for Marley’s selfishness in life he is now “doomed to wander through the world – oh, woe is me! And witness what I cannot share, but might have shared on earth. ” This is not Marley’s only outburst. Dickens really wants to hammer home his message about Marley’s agony due to his own lifestyle, “Business… Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all, my business. ”

In conclusion I think the reason for Dickens using Marley as the first ghost is for the shock of Scrooge seeing his business partner so unhappy after his life has ended. This obviously has a massive impact upon him as he is so scared to witness the other ghosts oncoming. The ghost of Christmas present is simpler to understand than Marley for he represents the things and spirit of Christmas. His purpose is to show Scrooge the way people celebrate Christmas at present and to point out the abundance of Christmas joy there is in families, which is alien to Scrooge.

The actual spirit is huge, happy and incredibly relaxed which is shown by his ‘easy state’ upon which Scrooge finds him. This peaceful, kind and generous spirit holds Plenty’s horn which is a sign of abundance and a richness of possessions and atmosphere. He is full of Christmas spirit and he knows what it is like to have a good time and a laugh, he is only haunting Scrooge with good things he has not seen before. The spirit is radiant, full of light for it pours out on to Scrooge, he cannot escape the joyous plentiful atmosphere.

He can’t run away for the light is so strong it grasps him. The spirit is introduced with a large range of different Christmas foods such as long plum-puddings, mince pies, ‘cheery cheeked apples’ and ‘immense twelfth cakes’, just to mention a few of the items layering the floor. The abundance and feeling of plenty is conveyed with the magnificent quantities of tangible items on display, with the ‘barrels of oysters’ and ‘wreaths of sausages’. Dickens eloquently describes the food making the reader feel tempted by these appetising descriptions. All this is completely foreign to Scrooge.

He has never seen this type of thing for he never shares his money to make these things happen; therefore this is appropriate so to open Scrooge’s eyes to the celebration of Christmas. The spirit shows Scrooge how Christmas is celebrated by his clerk’s family, by strangers near and far and by his nephew, Fred. We are told that the spirit carry’s a torch and that when its contents is sprinkled on people they become kinder to one and other. This implies that the torch is filled with some kind of Christmas spirit. Scrooge has never been to Bob Cratchit’s house.

Cite this essay

Jacob Marley – Christmas Carol. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jacob-marley-christmas-carol-essay

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