Ghost of Christmas Present
|Ghost of Christmas Present|
The Ghost of Christmas Present with Ebenezer Scrooge. Original 1843 illustration by John Leech.
|First appearance||A Christmas Carol|
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
- In the 1935 film Scrooge he is played by Oscar Asche.
- In the 1938 film A Christmas Carol he is played by Lionel Braham.
- In the 1951 film Scrooge he is played by Francis De Wolff.
- In the 1962 TV special Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, he appears before the Ghost of Christmas Past was meant to.
- In the musical Scrooge (1970 film) he is played by Kenneth More
- In the Academy Award-winning animated film A Christmas Carol (1971) he is played by Felix Felton.
- In the Disney 1983 animated adaptation titled Mickey's Christmas Carol, Willie the Giant (voiced by Will Ryan) portrays the ghost.
- In the 1984 film starring George C. Scott, the spirit is portrayed by Edward Woodward.
- The Jetsons episode The Jetsons Christmas Carol portrays the spirit as a "present".
- In Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988) Ebenezer Blackadder is visited by "the Spirit of Christmas" (played by Robbie Coltrane).
- The 1988 film Scrooged's incarnation of the ghost is a violent, shrill fairy played by Carol Kane.
- In A Flintstones Christmas Carol the spirit is portrayed by Erwin.
- In The Muppet Christmas Carol the spirit is a full-body Muppet with face and voice performed by Jerry Nelson. His in-suit performer is Don Austen.
- In Ebbie the spirit is portrayed by Lorena Gale.
- In the 1998 animated musical television film An All Dogs Christmas Carol, Sasha becomes the spirit.
- In the 1999 film starring Patrick Stewart, the spirit is portrayed by Desmond Barrit.
- Roger Taylor of Duran Duran fame portrays the spirit in A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000).
- In A Carol Christmas (2003), William Shatner portrayed a TV talk show host named "Dr. Bob" appears as the spirit.
- In Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, Yosemite Sam (Maurice LaMarche) is portrayed as the spirit.
- In the 2009 film Disney's A Christmas Carol, Jim Carrey voices all three ghosts, as well as Scrooge himself.
- In the Doctor Who's 2010 Christmas Special, Amy Pond presents herself in a hologram as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
- In the 2019 miniseries, the Ghost of Christmas Present is portrayed by Charlotte Riley.
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.