Ghost of Christmas Past
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|Ghost of Christmas Past|
Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig dance in a vision shown to Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
|First appearance||A Christmas Carol 1843|
|Created by||Charles Dickens|
The Ghost of Christmas Past was the first of the three spirits that haunted the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge in order to prompt him to repent. It showed him 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 the person he was and his particular dislike for Christmas – most of the events which negatively affected Scrooge occurred around the Christmas holiday season.
According to Dickens' novel, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Scrooge as a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age. It had on its head a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame, and carried a metal cap, made in the shape of a candle extinguisher. While the ghost is often portrayed as a woman in most dramatic adaptations, 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."
Role in the story
The Ghost of Christmas Past first showed Scrooge his old boarding school where he stayed (alone but for his books) while his schoolmates returned to their homes for the Christmas holidays. Then he was shown the day when his beloved younger sister Fan picked him up from the school after repeatedly asking their father to allow his return. Then he was shown an episode from his time as an apprentice to Mr. Fezziwig.
The spirit also showed Scrooge the day when, as a young man, his fiancée Belle chose to end their relationship as his increasing obsession with his money caused him to alienate her. Scrooge never asked Belle to break off their engagement, but he did not protest against her decision. Finally, the Ghost showed him how she married and found true happiness with another man. After this vision, Scrooge, out of anger, extinguished the Ghost of Christmas Past with his cap and found himself back in his bedroom, the time on the clock not being changed.
Various adaptations have added to the history shown by the Ghost. For example, in the 1984 film version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's encounter with his father is shown, and his 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 (and de facto abandonment) is that Scrooge's mother died in his childbirth. The conflict between this and the existence of his younger (half?-)sister Fan is not resolved.
Appearance in various film adaptations
- In the 1938 Alan Hart version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is portrayed as a sweet-faced young woman looking somewhat like an angel.
- In the 1951 film A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is an elderly man. In this version, story is changed so that Fan is older than Ebenezer and the ghost shows him his sister’s death through childbirth. This echoes Scrooge's own birth, since his mother died during his childbirth, which was shown as the reason for his father's bitterness towards him.
- In the TV special Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, a 1962 animated version, the Ghost is portrayed as a young, slight, androgynous figure (voiced by a female voice actor) with a flame above his/her head, a sprig of holly and an orange glow.
- In the 1970 version titled Scrooge, the Ghost is portrayed as an elderly but elegant lady with a red dress and a black hat.
- In the 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is depicted as a small, white, androgynous figure which shimmers in an effect similar to double-vision. As in the original novella, Scrooge extinguishes this spirit with a giant candle snuffer.
- In a 1982 version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Past is a Cupid-like young man
- In Disney's 1983 animated adaptation titled Mickey's Christmas Carol, Jiminy Cricket (Eddie Carroll) plays the role of the Ghost. At one point, Scrooge questions the Ghost's size, causing the Ghost to reply by saying that "If men were measured by kindness, you'd be no bigger than a speck of dust." In this version, the Ghost shows Scrooge his relationship with Isabelle (played by Daisy Duck) and how he called off their engagement. In this case, he foreclosed a mortgage on a honeymoon cottage Isabelle had, claiming her last payment on it was an hour late. When his visitaion of Scrooge ends, he tells him, "Remember Scrooge, you fashioned these memories yourself."
- In the 1984 made-for-television version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is portrayed as a middle-aged woman with blonde hair and a white robe rather than a childlike, long white haired figure as described in the novel written in 1843.
- In the 1988 comedy film Scrooged, the Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed (by David Johansen) as a New York cab driver with a Brooklyn accent.
- The 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol did not use a Muppet character to portray the spirit, but re-imagined it; this version appeared as a tiny, ghostly child of ambiguous gender, dressed in white and floating as if immersed in water; this effect was created by immersing a special puppet in a large water tank and then green-screened into the film. The voice was provided by Jessica Fox.
- In the 1994 animated made-for-television film A Flintstones Christmas Carol the Spirit was supposed to have been played by a woman named Garnet, but when at the last second she comes down with "The Bedrock Bug", Wilma has to play the part of the Spirit.
- In the 1995 made-for-television film Ebbie, the Ghost is portrayed as two spirits with but a single thought, played by Jennifer Clement and Nicole Parker.
- In the 1997 animated version of A Christmas Carol, the Spirit is portrayed as a mischievous young boy in a messenger boy's outfit.
- In the 1998 animated made-for-television film An All Dogs Christmas Carol, Itchy Itchiford becomes the ghost appearing to Carface Carruthers.
- In the 1999 made-for-television version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is portrayed as a being of indeterminate age, as described in the 1843 novel.
- In the 2000 made-for-television film A Diva's Christmas Carol, Kathy Griffin plays the Ghost.
- In the 2003 made-for-television film A Carol Christmas, Gary Coleman plays the Ghost.
- In the 2004 made-for-television film A Christmas Carol: The Musical, the Ghost first appears in the real world as a lamplighter, and then as a barefoot fairy-like creature in a white shift and garlands.
- In the 2006 CGI film A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is portrayed as an anthropomorphic stork.
- In Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, Granny and Tweety take on the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past (June Foray and Bob Bergen, respectively).
- In the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the Ghost is parodied as the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, a robot with a penchant of making houses run with elf blood and telling long-winded, incomprehensible stories about the origins of Christmas.
- In the 2009 performance captured film Disney's A Christmas Carol, the voice and acting of the Ghost of Christmas Past is provided by actor Jim Carrey. Similar to the original novel, the spirit appears as a candle-like being with an occasionally flickering flame for his head. Scrooge extinguishes this spirit with its giant candle snuffer hat, but in this version, this causes Scrooge to be rocketed thousands of feet into the air while clinging onto the snuffer, only to have it disappear, resulting in Scrooge falling down to earth, back into his bedroom for the next visitation.
- In the animated Internet series Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy segment "Ted Nugent is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past" singer Ted Nugent shoots and kills the Ghost of Christmas Past believing he was a robber, In the next scene Nugent is seen serving the ghost's cooked carcass to party guests and offering to make some Ghost Jerky.
- In the 2010 Christmas special of the BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who, which was based loosely on A Christmas Carol, The Doctor uses his time machine to play the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past to Michael Gambon's Scrooge figure.
- In a 2010 episode of The Young and the Restless, "Victor's Christmas Carol," the Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed by Hope Wilson (Signy Coleman), Victor Newman's wife who died of cancer. In this form, she has light wavy hair and a white dress.
- In the modern retelling from 2000 starring Ross Kemp as loan-shark Eddie Scrooge, all the ghosts are depicted as people from his life. The Ghost of Christmas Past is his heavy-drinking, cold and distant father, giving Eddie the opportunity to confront him directly about his failings and achieve some kind of closure. He was portrayed by Warren Mitchell.
- Jacob Marley
- Ghost of Christmas Present
- Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a.k.a. Ghost of Christmas Future)
- 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.