What effect does the ghost of Christmas past have on Scrooge?

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first of the three spirits to visit Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who looks like a young person and an old man at the same time. The spirit takes Scrooge to several scenes of past Christmases, and several of those points affect Scrooge's view of himself and make him want to change his actions or attitudes. When he sees himself as a child at boarding school, left alone over the Christmas vacation, he wishes he had been kinder to the Christmas caroler who had come to his shop the previous evening. When he sees his sister, Fan, coming to pick him up another year to bring him home, it is implied that he may wish he treated his nephew, Fan's son, better when he invited him to Christmas dinner. The biggest effect on Scrooge in Stave Two is when he observes Fezziwig's festive employee Christmas celebration. The contrast between himself and his generous former employer is so stark that Scrooge wishes he "could say a word or two to my clerk just now," showing that he is having a change of heart about the way he treats Bob Cratchit. But when the spirit brings him to the scene of Belle breaking their engagement, and when it shows him Belle's happy life married to another man, Scrooge protests and finally responds with anger, trying to snuff the spirit out with his large cap. This shows that the changes that are taking place in Scrooge, although important, are not sufficient to help him truly "keep Christmas in his heart."

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A Christmas Carol

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