What is the lifespan of the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?   

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Ghost of Christmas Present tells Scrooge that he has "More than eighteen hundred" brothers, and he suggests that Scrooge could have "walked forth," or gotten to know by some experience with the Christmas spirit, some of the ghost's older brothers, though not the brothers who are so very old.  This makes it seem as though there is a new Ghost of Christmas Present for each Christmas since the birth of Christ (which makes sense since he is the Ghost of Christmas Present only). 

The book itself was published in 1843, so if the Ghost of Christmas Present is alive in the year 1843, then he would have eighteen hundred forty-two brothers.  Therefore, the spirit is asking if Scrooge has known his brothers of more recent years, years like 1842 or 1835 or even 1820, etc. (since Scrooge seems as though he is somewhat of an older man).  This means, then, that each Ghost of Christmas Present's lifespan is exactly one day: Christmas Day.  This is confirmed by the ghost's appearance at the end of the chapter.  The narrator says,

[...] the Ghost grew older, clearly older [....].  "Are spirits' lives so short?" asked Scrooge.  "My life upon this globe, is very brief," replied the Ghost.  "It ends tonight."

Thus, the ghost's earthly life ends when Christmas Day comes to a close.

kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, and by three spirits. We find out near the end of the book that all three visitations took place in the span of one night. When the Ghost of Christmas Present is about to leave, Scrooge notices how much the spirit has aged since he first arrived and asks him about his lifespan. The Ghost of Christmas Present says,

"'My life upon this globe is very brief," replied the Ghost. "It ends tonight.'" (Dickens 85)

He goes on to say that his life will be over at midnight. Earlier in the stave, the Ghost of Christmas Present tells Scrooge that he has "more than eighteen hundred" brothers, and he is very young. This possibly hints at the idea that he and his brothers are only here for a very short time to impart a lesson such as the one he is giving Scrooge.

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A Christmas Carol

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