What is Scrooge's initial attitude toward the first spirit in A Christmas Carol?

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Scrooge's attitude towards the first spirit is one of fear. It's important to remember that the first apparition Scrooge sees is not a spirit! That first vision is the ghost - quite a different thing - of Scrooge's old business partner talking to the old miser from the grave. He has come to warn Scrooge about his cheap penny-pinching ways and cold, cheerless, selfish attitude towards his fellow man. It is he who tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits.

The first spirit appears at the window and represents the Ghost of Christmas Past. Scrooge's attitude is one of terror when the spirit asks him to take his hand and take off into the sky. The ghost points to his heart and promises Scrooge he will be alright. Many people however get confused and remember the clanking chains of Marley as being the more terrifying!

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Stave Two, when the spirit appears to Scrooge as was foretold by the ghost of Marley—when "the deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE" strikes—Scrooge is startled as the curtains around his bed are pulled back and he beholds "a strange figure—like a child" from whose head a bright jet of light shines.

Scrooge studies this vision with more concentration and observes that the strange figure only wears a tunic of white. Its long hair is also white, yet its face is that of a child. Its arms are muscular and very long; its hands, too, are large, appearing to be strong as well. Its legs are long and its feet delicately shaped. From the belt that is around the short tunic it wears, there are sparkles and glitters, first in one part, then in another, causing the figure to seem to fade and brighten in Scrooge's view. With this strange exchange of light, the figure seems at times to be a pair of legs without a head, then a head without a body, then a being with just one arm or just one leg. Finally, the figure appears whole, "distinct and clear as ever."

When Scrooge inquires of the spirit its identity, he is told, "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past . . . Your past." Then, for some reason, Scrooge asks the spirit to put on its extinguisher of a hat.

"What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow!"

Scrooge respectfully expresses that he has no intention of offending the spirit. Then he dares to ask the spirit why it has come. It replies, "Your reclamation. . . . Rise and walk with me!" Thus begins Scrooge's moral restoration.

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hubbamic's profile pic

hubbamic | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Scrooge's initial attitude is one of disbelief and horror.  He thinks it how silly it is that he is being visited by something that surely can't be real.  He wants to dismiss the spirit and move on with his miserable life as is.  It is not until the spirit shows some of the most personal aspects of Scrooge's life that he starts to accept the spirit and the teachings that it brings.

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