Ghost of Christmas Past

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ghost of Christmas Past
A Christmas Carol - Scrooge Extinguishes the First of the Three Spirits.jpg
Scrooge "extinguishes" the Ghost of Christmas Past. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech.
First appearanceA Christmas Carol 1843
Created byCharles Dickens
In-universe information

The Ghost of Christmas Past or the Spirit of Christmas Past is a fictional character in the 1843 work A Christmas Carol by the English novelist 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.[1]

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.[2]

Appearance in notable film and TV adaptations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol in Prose; Being a Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens. Project Gutenberg.