Ghost of Christmas Present

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Ghost of Christmas Present
Scrooges third visitor-John Leech,1843.jpg
The Ghost of Christmas Present with Ebenezer Scrooge. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech.
First appearanceA Christmas Carol
In-universe information

The Ghost of Christmas Present or the Spirit of Christmas Present is a fictional character in the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Spirit closely resembles Father Christmas from English folklore.


The Ghost of Christmas Present is the second of the three spirits (after the visitations by Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past) that haunt the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to prompt him to repent. He shows Scrooge how other people, especially those he knows, celebrate Christmas in order to show the reader what people think of Scrooge behind his back.

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 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 are happening as they watch, sprinkling a little warmth from his torch as he travels. Amongst the visits are the city streets, Scrooge's nephew’s Christmas party, and the family of his impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit. Scrooge takes an interest in Cratchit's desperately-ill son, Tiny Tim, and asks the Ghost if Tim will live. The Ghost first states that "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die", and then – quick to use Scrooge's past heartless comments to two charitable solicitors against him – states, "What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population". The spirit then warns Scrooge to "forebear that wicked tongue until you have discovered for yourself what the surplus is, and where it is" and chillingly tells him "It may be, that in the sight of heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man's child".

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". Ignorance and Want, represent society's abandonment of the poor and the consequences of that abandonment. Above all else, A Christmas Carol is allegorical. Dickens was a strong proponent of taking care of society's poor and downtrodden, and this is why he chose to represent them in children. 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 own words: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

The Ghost of Christmas Present, having already aged, reveals that he will only exist on Earth for a "very brief" time, implied to be that single Christmas holiday. 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".

Appearance in notable film and TV adaptations[edit]

See also[edit]


Hearn, Michael P. (1989). The Annotated Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; illustrated by John Leach; with an introduction, notes and bibliography by Michael Patrick Hearn. New York: Avenel Books. ISBN 0-517-68780-1.

External links[edit]