The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol

  • Young and old
  • Commanding
  • Streaming with light
The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first spirit to visit Scrooge after the ghost of Marley. It arrives as the clock chimes one. It is an ephemeral spirit that appears to be both old and young at the same time with light streaming from the top of its head.

It takes Scrooge to scenes from his own past, showing him visions of his own childhood, of his young adulthood and of happier times. The final scene he presents is one that Scrooge cannot bear to witness: his lost love, Belle, with her family.

Scrooge turns on the ghost and demands to be shown no more. He attempts to extinguish the ghost's light with its own cap, wrestling it to the ground. However, the light that shines from the ghost cannot be put out.

How is the Ghost like this?EvidenceAnalysis
EphemeralThis ghost is shifting in appearance, seeming to be there and not be there at the same time....what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness.The ghost is surreal and strange. It flickers like a candle and seems to reflect the fact that Scrooge's past behaviour can be redeemed.
GentleThe ghost is not solid and is also calm and gentle in the way it communicates with Scrooge.The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man's sense of feeling.The words 'mildly' and 'gentle' give us the overall sense that the ghost is well-meaning.
QuietThe ghost does not speak much, but answers Scrooge's questions with brief replies."Your welfare!" said the Ghost.When Scrooge asks the ghost what its business is that evening, the response is short and to the point. This ghost does not waste words!
FirmAlthough the spirit is ephemeral and gentle, it is also commanding.It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm. "Rise! and walk with me!"The imperatives (verbs in command form) 'Rise' and 'walk' show that the ghost is to be obeyed. It has control here.