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Many times in life, we do not realize the importance of something until it is gone and is too late to reclaim. However, in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, we are told the story of a man who, although undeserving, is offered an opportunity to redeem himself, to receive a second chance. This man, Ebenezer Scrooge, is changed forever by the valuable lessons taught by four spirits: those of his deceased partner Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.
Scrooge is first visited by the phantom of his departed companion, and sole friend, Jacob Marley. Appearing on the knocker to his old chambers, Marley's horrifying face is the first sign of the remarkable, life-changing night yet to come. However, it is only until Ebenezer Scrooge actually sees "Marley, in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head" (p.17) that the old man truly believes that he was not merely seeing a reverie. The specter proceeded to warn Scrooge to change his callous, avarice ways, or to be as Marley after death: dwelling on regret and self-torment, weighed down by "the chain [he] forged in life" (p.21). Knowing Ebenezer as a man of sensible nature, the ghost offers further proof that there are forever consequences, even after life. Shocked, Scrooge glimpses "the air filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste," (p.25) and recognizes many as long forgotten business associates: as greedy and heartless as he. Although Jacob Marley appeared for only a brief moment, he was the most significant and influential spirit: for it was he who imparted the moral that all faults in life are paid for ten-fold in death, and who, more importantly, prepared the pragmatic man for the supernatural appearances that would follow.
The second to appear is the Spirit of Christmas Past, bringing with it a flood of poignant, haunting memories. Each evokes a new feeling, repressed anguish or forgotten happiness, felt by Scrooge during a Christmas long-ago. The first was the reminiscence of "a solitary child, neglected by his friends" (p.34). However dismal this scene may appear, the boy was in high spirits, washing away his solitude in a story.
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