A Christmas Carol Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Scrooge doesn't believe the ghost is Marley until Marley removes a bandage. Which bandage does he remove?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It would seem that Jacob Marley died of some unspecified head-related ailment. In the days before antibiotics it was common to use bandages to attach a poultice to affected areas to reduce pain and swelling. Bandages were also commonly used in the process of embalming, so this is an alternative explanation as to why Marley's ghost has a bandaged head.

Whatever the reason, Marley removes his bandages to convince a skeptical Scrooge that he is indeed the ghost of his former business partner. And when he does so, it's like something out of a horror movie; his lower jaw falls to his chest. Scrooge is absolutely terrified, as we might expect. But it has the desired effect. Because now Scrooge has been left in no doubt whatsoever that he's face-to-face with the unquiet spirit of Jacob Marley.

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Teagan Corkery eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The bandage that Jacob Marley removes is one wrapped around his head and chin. The bandage is first referred to as a kerchief, and it's something Scrooge does not pick up on right away. Scrooge grows more and more desperate to convince himself that Marley's ghost is nothing more than the result of bad digestion, eventually dismissing the ghost entirely. In the face of Scrooge's skepticism, Marley's ghost raises "a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon." The ghost then unwinds the bandage around his head, "as if it were too warm to wear in-doors." Marley's lower jaw then falls onto his chest, and the horror of seeing such an appalling scene convinces Scrooge that the ghost is indeed real.

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