Describe Marley's Ghost in A Christmas Carol. Explain how he got his chains and why he must always travel.

In A Christmas Carol, Marley's Ghost resembles Scrooge's former business partner but is a transparent figure whose body is wrapped in heavy chains made of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses. Marley's Ghost explains that he is condemned to endlessly travel the earth wearing the chains he forged in life by living a greedy, selfish existence. Marley's Ghost is required to witness other corrupt individuals like Scrooge and warn them about their similar fate.

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Marley's Ghost first appears on the surface of Scrooge's knocker when Scrooge arrives home on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is puzzled at first by the appearance of Marley's face on his knocker but continues upstairs, where he eats his evening meal alone. Scrooge knows that Marley has been dead for seven years and tries to dismiss the strange apparition. While Scrooge is eating, he once again sees the image of Marley's face in the Dutch tiles around his fireplace. Scrooge responds to the spectral images of Marley's face by saying, "Humbug." After having his evening meal, Scrooge is once again disturbed when he hears the sound of dragging chains coming up the stairs and witnesses Marley's Ghost. Scrooge is appalled by Marley's Ghost. Dickens describes its appearance:

Marley in his pig-tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pig-tail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent: so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

As Scrooge's business partner in life, Marley was a greedy, cold man, who was solely concerned with making a profit and never gave to the needy. The various items attached to the chain around Marley's body indicate what he valued most in life and weigh heavily on his spirit in the afterlife. Scrooge remains incredulous in the ghost's presence but is terrified when Marley's Ghost removes the bandage around his head and his jaw drops below his chest.

Marley's Ghost goes on to tell Scrooge that he is destined to roam the earth without rest for the remainder of eternity as punishment for living an isolated, self-centered life. Marley's Ghost also mentions that the cash-boxes and locks chained around his body represent his former livelihood, which consumed all his energy and focus when he alive. Marley's Ghost continues to elaborate on his present condition by saying,

I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house—mark me!—in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!

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Jacob Marley is Ebenezer Scrooge's former business partner, who has been dead for seven years and visits Scrooge as a ghost in stave 1 wearing the chains he forged in life. While Scrooge is alone in his chamber on Christmas Eve, every bell in the house begins to ring loudly, and he hears the sound of heavy chains dragging on the floor as Marley's ghost climbs the steps. When Scrooge witnesses Marley's ghost for the first time, he is horrified and perplexed. Marley's ghost resembles his former partner and wears the same waistcoat, tights, and boots as Marley did when he was alive.

However, Scrooge notices a heavy chain tightly wrapped around the ghost's waist and "wound about him like a tail." The chain is made from "cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel." The items attached to Marley's chain are symbolically comprised of the material items he valued in life, which restrict his mobility and bind him in the afterlife. The body of Marley's ghost is also transparent, and Scrooge observes that the spirit has "no bowels," which alludes to the fact that he was not a compassionate, merciful person in life.

When Scrooge asks Marley's ghost why he haunts him, the spirit replies that he is condemned to wander the world and "witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!" (Dickens, 17). Scrooge then asks the spirit why he is fettered in heavy chains, and Marley's ghost replies,

I wear the chain I forged in life...I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it (17).

Marley's ghost regrets dismissing the less fortunate and only focusing on money while he was alive. As a restless, tortured spirit, Marley's Ghost warns Scrooge that it is not too late to change his corrupt ways and informs him that he will be visited by three spirits throughout the night.

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Though Ebenezer Scrooge's old partner, Jacob Marley, has been dead for seven years, he does not rest soundly in his grave. Instead, he has been doomed to wander the world in a ghostly state because of his miserly ways and his unconcern for the people around him. Scrooge first saw Marley's face in his door knocker, a "horrible" appearance with its wild hair, wide-open eyes and "livid colour." Scrooge next heard Marley before he saw him, as his old partner ascended the stairs with his clanking chains. When Scrooge first witnessed the ghost of his old friend, he saw the same face as he had seen in his door-knocker:

... the very same. Marley in his pig-tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pig-tail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent: so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

Marley had no bowels, and Scrooge could see right through him, and he could feel "the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes." When Scrooge asks Marley's ghost why he must carry the chain, the "Shade" responds that

     “I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?

The ghost is allowed no rest nor peace, only torture and remorse. When Scrooge asks for comfort, Marley's ghost tells him that

“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied. “It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers to other kinds of men... I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere... and weary journeys lie before me!”

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The first ghost that Scrooge meets in A Christmas Carol is Jacob Marley.  Marley was the business partner of Scrooge before his death.  He comes to warn Scrooge of his fate if he doesn't change his ways. Marley's ghost also tells Scrooge that he will be visited by other spirits. Dickens writes and describes Marley as "a restless old ghost.' Initially, Marley's face appears in the knocker of Scrooge's front door, but then the ghost appears in full. His appearance is shocking: his jaw is tied together with a rag, which drops when he takes the rag off; he is bound around the waist with a chain, "the chain I forged in life," made of "cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel." He informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts.

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