The ‘Ghost of Christmas Past’ reveals itself to Scrooge, shortly after the affair with Marley and the purpose of this ghost is to show Scrooge of the times of his past life which involve his school and family life as well as his past relationships. The first line of the description portrays excellently the appearance of this unusual spirit: ‘It was a strange figure – like a child; yet not so like a child as like an old man’. The spirit is also strangely attired with harsh contrasts in its dress for the spirit has a holly branch in his hand and summer flowers lining the end of its dress.
This displays the progression of time and the seasons which in turn reflect the stages of Scrooges past life and the progression of a man’s life, which is slowly been clutched by the grasp of money. The spirit also possesses another unusual quality in that a ‘bright clear jet of light’ springs out from his head as well as having extensive description of the whiteness of its being. This clear whiteness and the jet of light symbolizes the simplicity of what the spirit is showing and It is making thing apparently clear to Scrooge. The ghost of Christmas present is a bit simpler to understand for he represents the things and spirit of Christmas.
His purpose is to show Scrooge the way people celebrate Christmas at present and to point out the huge amount of Christmas joy there is in families, which is alien to Scrooge. The spirit is introduced with a large range of different Christmas foods such as long plum-puddings, mince pies, ‘cherry-cheeked apples’ and ‘immense twelfth cakes’, just to mention a few of the items layering the floor. The abundance and feeling of plenty is conveyed with the magnificent quantities of items on display, with the ‘barrels of oysters’ and ‘wreaths of sausages’. Dickens describes the food making the reader feel tempted by these appetizing descriptions.
All this is completely foreign to Scrooge. He has never seen this type of thing for he never shares his money to make these things happen; therefore this is appropriate so to open Scrooge’s eyes to the celebration of Christmas. The actual spirit is huge, happy and incredibly relaxed which is shown by his ‘easy state’ upon which Scrooge finds him. He is full of Christmas spirit and he knows what it is like to have a good time and a laugh, he is only haunting Scrooge with good things he has not seen before. The spirit is radiant, full of light for it pours on to Scrooge, and he cannot escape the joyous plentiful atmosphere.
He can’t run away for the light is so strong it grasps him. The spirit is kind to Scrooge yet he is not passive telling Scrooge in a firm manner to look upon his wide, inviting eyes. The ghost has clothes of a simple nature with a ‘simple green robe bordered with white fur’. This shows just how relaxed and comfortable the spirit is, he is even bare-breasted showing that he just wants to present himself as he is with no false attachments – even his feet are found without covering. This open hearted spirit is showing the true meaning of Christmas to Scrooge who has only ever lived for money seeing Christmas as a wasted day.
There is a very stark difference between the ‘Ghost of Christmas Present’ and the ‘Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’ for the spirit which foresees the future is firstly described as moving ‘slowly, gravely, silently’. This is more a haunting spirit, he is meant to be scary and menacing and he certainly is introduced in this fashion for he is to show the grim tales of Scrooges future which are not pleasant. The overwhelming fear in Scrooge is seen, in that he quickly bends down on one knee and the atmosphere disperses in to one of ‘gloom and mystery’.
There is definite sense of fear for the words convey ghostly imagery such as ‘shrouded’ which is a dark word in that it is often associated with a funeral or a burial. The deep, piercingly solemn appearance of a hand is all Scrooge needs to fill him with ultimate fear for the ghost is incredibly hard to distinguish and the outstretched hand is all one can see. This mysterious invisibility makes the ghost even more harrowing for there is only one hand which brings about this dark and undistinguished presence, the ghost is a shape which is horribly not complete.
As well as not being able to see all the parts of the ghoul, the spirit does not even talk which makes him even more fearful for it is impossible for Scrooge to communicate to this haunting phantom. Scrooge is desperate for the ghoul to utter a word but Dickens purposely does not let the figure talk for it adds to his mysterious and chilling demeanor. This spirit is one which people dread; it is of an appearance of a phantom which chills the surrounding air which others choke on in fear. The description continues, with Dickens using metaphorical speech to describe the ghoul: ‘but a spectral hand and one great heap of black’.
The effect of the metaphor is once more of absolute fear and terror. The description ends with Scrooge requesting speech from the ghoul but it is not going to respond which rounds off the passage with a feeling of fear. Dickens shows skill in describing these ghosts so relevantly to what there immediate purpose is. Each ghost has its own specific meaning and Dickens presents this effectively giving each spirit a unique appearance which tells a story with a true moral which still applies today. Dickens is a storyteller with unique gifts and this is shown in these descriptions of the four spirits.
Another technique Dickens uses is having Scrooges nephew be a cripple, Tiny Tim is deliberately sentimental to get an emotive response. The audience has great feelings for Tiny Tim and that is shown especially near the end of the book when ‘the ghost of Christmas yet To Come’ returns Scrooge to the house, all he sees is an empty chair and a crutch. This upsets the reader because we have become attached to Tiny Tim and his plight. The description conveys him as an ill child and we are naturally sympathetic towards this.