How is the theme of the supernatural presented in A Christmas Carol? What is Dickens's effect on the reader in doing so?

The theme of the supernatural is presented in the spirits that visit Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Dickens's effect on the reader is to produce a chilling and haunting fear with each spirit. The reader heeds their messages because the imagery is so vivid with each spirit. Marley's ghost rattles his chains. Another spirit will not speak and seems death-like. Even the jolly spirit is horrifying when he unveils the children hidden in his robe.

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The theme of the supernatural is presented in AChristmas Carol in the spirits that come to visit Scrooge, including the ghost of his deceased partner Jacob Marley.

When the first spirit, Marley’s ghost, arrives, the effect on the reader is chilling and haunting. He rattles the chains he produced...

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The theme of the supernatural is presented in A Christmas Carol in the spirits that come to visit Scrooge, including the ghost of his deceased partner Jacob Marley.

When the first spirit, Marley’s ghost, arrives, the effect on the reader is chilling and haunting. He rattles the chains he produced while he walked the earth. These chains bind him and he frightens not only Scrooge, but the reader as well.

He tells Scrooge that the chain Scrooge is forging was as long as his own chain was while they were in partnership. Scrooge’s chain has only gotten longer now with each passing year since Marley’s death.

He warns Scrooge that if he does not amend his ways and begin to take a greater interest in his fellow man and keep Christmas, he will die as Marley died—doomed to walk eternity bound with the chains he created by living as a selfish, unfeeling being. He cries out, and the reader sees vividly the image of an anguished spirit. Marley says,

Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

The reader takes heed of this because it is delivered by a supernatural, frightening being. Moreover, during Dickens’s time, people might have been more superstitious than today’s modern society, implying that it might have made an even greater impression when it was published.

When the subsequent spirits arrive to show Scrooge how past, present, and future Christmases are celebrated, the spirits are also frightening. One will not speak and wears a death-like cowl and only points in response to Scrooge’s questions.

Even the spirit that appears jolly is horrifying when he reveals the “children” hidden in his voluminous robe. In all, Dickens achieves a frightening message in the form of the supernatural spirits.

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