Ghost of Christmas Past
|Ghost of Christmas Past|
Scrooge "extinguishes" the Ghost of Christmas Past. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech.
|First appearance||A Christmas Carol 1843|
|Created by||Charles Dickens|
The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first of the three spirits (after the visitation by Jacob Marley, his former business partner) to haunt Ebenezer Scrooge. This angelic and caring 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, cold-hearted miser.
According to Dickens' novella, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to Scrooge as a white-robed, androgynous figure of indeterminate age. A blinding beam of light radiates from its head and it carries a cap like a candle extinguisher, which it tells Scrooge that his own passions made and forced the ghost to wear. The ghost is often portrayed as a woman in dramatic adaptations of the story:
...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.
After appearing in Scrooge's house, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes his hand and flies with him over London. It 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 cold, unloving father to allow his return, as she joyfully claims that he has changed and is now kinder than he was. 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, a kind and loving man, who treated Scrooge like a son and was more compassionate to him than was his own father.
The spirit also shows Scrooge the Christmas Eve when, as a young man, his beloved fiancée Belle ended their relationship upon realizing that he now cared more for money than he did for her. Scrooge did not ask Belle to end their engagement, but he did not fight to keep 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 its cap and finds himself back in his bedroom, where he very quickly fell asleep.
Appearance in notable film and TV adaptations
- In the 1935 film Scrooge, the Ghost is portrayed as an outline.
- In the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is portrayed as an angelic young woman.
- In the 1951 film A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is an elderly man.
- In the 1954 television film A Christmas Carol, the Ghost is played by Sally Fraser.
- In the TV special Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol the Ghost is portrayed as a young, slight, androgynous figure.
- 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
- In a 1982 version of A Christmas Carol, the spirit 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.
- In the 1984 adaptation of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost (Angela Pleasence) is portrayed as a middle-aged woman with blonde hair and a white robe.
- In the 1988 comedy film Scrooged, the Ghost of Christmas Past (played by David Johansen) is portrayed as a cigar-smoking cab driver.
- In the 1992 film The Muppet Christmas Carol the ghost appeared as a tiny, floating ghostly girl, dressed in white.
- In 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 Ghost of Christmas Past is portrayed as a mischievous young boy in a messenger boy's outfit.
- In the 1997 made-for-television film Ms. Scrooge, the spirit is portrayed by Michael J. Reynolds in the appearance of a 1950s businessman with a bowler hat.
- In the 1998 animated musical television film An All Dogs Christmas Carol, Itchy becomes the spirit appearing to Carface Carruthers.
- In the 1999 made-for-television version of A Christmas Carol, the spirit is portrayed as a glowing being of indeterminate age.
- In the 2000 made-for-television film A Diva's Christmas Carol, Kathy Griffin plays the spirit.
- In the 2003 made-for-television film A Carol Christmas, Gary Coleman plays the spirit.
- In the 2004 made-for-television film A Christmas Carol: The Musical, the Ghost of Christmas Past first appears as a barefoot fairy-like creature in a yellow 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 (June Foray) and Tweety (Bob Bergen) take on the role.
- In the 2009 performance-captured film Disney's A Christmas Carol, the voice and acting of the Ghost of Christmas Past is provided by Jim Carrey.
- In the Doctor Who 2010 Christmas special "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor (Matt Smith) uses the TARDIS to portray the role.
- In the 2017 film The Man Who Invented Christmas, Anna Murphy plays the spirit.
- 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.
- Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol in Prose; Being a Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens. Project Gutenberg.