Jacob Marley's ghost visits Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
|First appearance||A Christmas Carol 1843|
|Created by||Charles Dickens|
|Occupation||Scrooge's business partner Funeral Service|
Relationship with Scrooge 
In life, Marley was the business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. As teenagers, both men had been apprenticed in business and met as clerks in another business. The firm of Scrooge and Marley was a nineteenth century financial institution, probably a counting house, as Marley refers to their offices as 'our money-changing hole'. They have become successful bankers, with seats on the London Stock Exchange. He was named after Marley Tunnel in Devon, just outside Totnes because of fond holiday memories of the town.
In A Christmas Carol, Marley is said to have died seven years earlier on Christmas Eve (as the setting is Christmas Eve 1843, this would have made the date of his passing December 24, 1836). It would be his ghost who would be Scrooge's first visitor (before the three other spirits to come).
Marley preys upon Scrooge's mind in many different ways. The ghost maintains the same voice, hairstyle and sense of dress that he had in life, but is translucent. He wears a handkerchief tied about his jaws, and "captive, bound and double-ironed" with chains which are described as "long, and wound about him like a tail; it was made... of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel." He often, in moments of great despair or impatience at Scrooge's scepticism, flings these upon the ground before him and almost induces his former partner "into a swoon". He explains that it is the chain he unknowingly forged himself in life, as a result of his extortionate behaviour. The ghost is also described as having "an infernal atmosphere of its own... its hair and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven". He despairs at his inability ever to find happiness in the mortal world or the next. As he spent his life on this earth obsessing over money and mistreating the poor and wretched to fill his pocket, Marley is condemned as part of his "penance" to walk the earth for eternity never to find rest or peace, experiencing an "incessant torture of remorse."
When the spectre asks, "Why do you doubt your senses?" Scrooge scoffs that "...a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!" Later, more pointedly he says, "Humbug, I tell you! Humbug!" Marley's only reply is a spine-chilling howl that brings Scrooge to his knees, begging for mercy.
Appearances in other media 
- In 1963, President John F. Kennedy paraphrased Marley in his speech about businesses in America, saying "Humanity was my business".
- Michael Hordern played the role of Marley twice, once in the 1951 film Scrooge and then as the voice of Marley in Richard Williams' 1971 animated film. In one of the most chilling scenes from the 1971 adaptation, the animation enables the depiction of Dickens' original idea that Marley removes the handkerchief from his head, causing his to jaw gape inhumanly wide. Hordern also played the role of Scrooge in a 1977 television adaptation for the BBC, with the role of Marley played by John Le Mesurier.
- In the 1970 film Scrooge, Marley (Alec Guinness) is given an extra scene where he escorts Scrooge to hell, where their counting house is also present and where Scrooge shall spend eternity working as a "bureaucrat for Lucifer". This shock then awakens Scrooge back to reality.
- In the 1983 special Mickey's Christmas Carol, the character is played by Goofy (Hal Smith). This version of Marley was mentioned to have left little in the way of a fortune, bequeathing Scrooge only enough to buy his tombstone, so Scrooge had him buried at sea. In addition, this version of Marley was also mentioned to be a ruthless businessman, "robbing the widows and swindling the poor" -all in the same day- though he came to regret these actions as it led to his punishment of being "forced to carry his heavy chains for eternity... maybe even longer." He ends his time with Scrooge by falling down the stairs and letting out his famous statement. It is possible that falling down the stairs might have been his death as Scrooge warned him to watch out for the first step.
- In the 1984 made-for-television film of A Christmas Carol, Marley's voice calls Scrooge from an apparitional hearse, and then again before Scrooge sees Marley's face on the door knocker. Frank Finlay's performance as Marley is considered one of the best ever portrayals of the character.
- In the film Scrooged (1988), a modern interpretation of Dickens' novella, Jacob Marley is portrayed by John Forsythe.
- In the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Devil's Due, Data reenacts Jacob Marley's scene, playing the role of Scrooge. A holodeck version of Marley is portrayed by William Glover.
- In the 1992 movie The Muppet Christmas Carol, the character is bifurcated into two brothers named Jacob and Robert so that they can be played by Statler and Waldorf (Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz). The joke is that Jacob Marley has a brother named Bob - as in reggae singer Bob Marley. They sing the number "Marley and Marley" where they lament their suffering and warn Scrooge of what he will face. They remain to be the famous hecklers of the Muppets franchise, however, as they are mentioned to have "always criticized" and heckled Scrooge in life while in business together; during the Fezziwig (Fozziwig, played by Fozzie Bear) Christmas party scene, they are showed as younger men who heckle Fozziwig from an upper level.
- In 1993, Aimee Mann released a song called "Jacob Marley's Chain" on her album Whatever.
- In the 1994 special A Flintstones Christmas Carol, the character is called 'Jacob Marbley' and is played by Mr. Slate (John Stephenson). A stone tablet portrait shows of Marbley cheating Scrooge by tipping his side of the scale with his finger.
- In the 1995 made-for-TV film Ebbie, Jeffrey DeMunn plays Marley's modern version, Jake Marley, Elizabeth "Ebbie" Scrooge's mentor and later partner who dies of a heart attack right in front of her.
- In the 1996 made-for-television film, The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas, Marley appears as a door knocker at The Munsters house.
- In the 1997 made-for-television film, Ms. Scrooge, Katherine Helmond portrays a female version of Jacob, Maude Marley
- In the 2000 made-for-television film, A Diva's Christmas Carol, Rozonda Thomas plays a female version of Jacob Marley, Marli Jacob. Here the character is free due to Ebony Scrooge's redemption.
- In the 2001 film Christmas Carol: The Movie, Marley is voiced by Nicolas Cage.
- In the 2004 A Christmas Carol: The Musical Marley is played by Jason Alexander
- In the 2010 film Christmas Cupid Marley was combined with Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life in the recently dead actress Caitlin Quinn. Here she must help her PR Agent Sloane Spencer in order to gain her wings.
- In the 2003 made-for-television film, A Carol Christmas, the "Jacob Marley" character was a stage mother-type aunt of Carol's: Aunt Marla, played by Dinah Manoff.
- Marley's Ghost is a 2003 play by Jeff Goode which is a prequel to A Christmas Carol.
- In the 2006 movie A Christmas Carol, the character is portrayed as an anthropomorphic cricket (just like Jiminy Cricket, who played the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey's Christmas Carol). In this adaptation, he is given an extra scene where Scrooge's redemption frees him from his punishment.
- In the 2008 comedy film An American Carol, the role of Marley is taken by the spirit of John F. Kennedy, portrayed by Chriss Anglin.
- In the 2008 animated film Barbie in A Christmas Carol, the role of Marley is Eden's Aunt Marie and because of her cruel raising, she is chainbound with mirrors. She sends three ghosts to get Eden to change her ways before it's too late.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Exogenesis", Marcus makes reference to Marley while quoting Dickens.
- In the 2009 film adaptation, he is played by Gary Oldman. He is depicted as in a state of decay, with bad teeth, crossed eyes, and at one point his cheeks split open, leaving him unable to close his jaw.
- In November 2011, the Marlowe Society produced Scrooge & Marley at the ADC Theatre. In this two-man production, Jacob Marley (James Swanton) was present throughout to tell the story and secure his own redemption.
- In the short story "Adaptation", by Connie Willis, Marley's ghost appears as a stand-in for the Ghost of Christmas Past (who has become corrupted by the increasing commercialisation of Christmas and retired to Florida).
- In Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas his role is played by Sylvester the Cat (Joe Alaskey), but here he was his idol not his partner and was killed by a forklift.
- Jacob Marley appeared in a 2003 Christmas episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and was played by Jeremy Hardy who tortured Ebenezer Scrumph (played by Humphrey Lyttelton) by singing. The episode was broadcast also on 27 December 2010.
- In the animated series Beverly Hills Teens, Jacob's role was played by Pierce Thorndike III.
- In a Christmas episode of The Jetsons, Mr. Spacely was visited by his dead partner Jacob Marsly. Both characters were voiced by Mel Blanc.
- In the Festive Skin Pack on the Xbox version of Minecraft, there is a skin called Marley's Ghost.
Ghost of the past, present and future