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|The Ghost of Christmas Present|
A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. (19 December 1843)
The Ghost of Christmas Present was the third of the four spirits (after the visitations by the Ghost of Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past) that haunted 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 (1,842 to be exact, the story being set on Christmas Eve 1843, the year of its publication) 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 were happening as they watched, sprinkling a little warmth from his torch as he travels. Amongst the visits are Scrooge's nephew, and the family of his clerk, Bob Cratchit.
The spirit also shares a vision of Tiny Tim's crutch, carefully preserved by the fireplace. Scrooge asks if Tim will die. The Ghost first states that "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die" (i.e., Tim's illness is not incurable, but the Cratchits lack the funds for Tim to receive proper treatment, courtesy of Scrooge's miserliness), 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." Scrooge is disgusted at his own words and is concerned for Tiny Tim and his family.
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," underscoring the book's social message. 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, no workhouses?" filling Scrooge with self-loathing.
The Ghost of Christmas Present, having already aged, reveals that he will only exist on Earth for a single year's Christmas holiday (as the nature of the present is to only exist in the now, this is why this ghost can only exist for one Christmas, and why he has 1842 brothers. Note the year that Charles Dickens' story was published. This would be the 1843rd Ghost of Christmas Present). He finally disappears at the stroke of midnight on Twelfth Night, and leaves Scrooge to face the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, as it approaches "like a mist along the ground."
Public Domain Appearances
- A Christmas Carol
- Scrooge, or, Marley's Ghost (1908)
- A Christmas Carol (1908)
- A Christmas Carol (1910)
- Scrooge (1913)
- A Christmas Carol (1914)
- The Right to Be Happy (1916)
When the Ghost states that he has "more than eighteen hundred" brothers, it has commonly been accepted that that means he has 1,842 to be exact, due to the story being set on Christmas Eve 1843, the year of its publication. However, common belief is that Jesus of Nazareth was actually born in 3 B.C. giving the Ghost 1845 brothers as of 1843.