A Christmas Carol Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What does Scrooge think has caused Marley's ghost to appear?

Expert Answers info

Cleveland Goodman eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write249 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Initially, Scrooge believes that the appearance of Marley's ghost is a result of indigestion. However, once the ghost has gotten Scrooge to take the first steps toward understanding that the ghost is indeed "real," Scrooge begins to think of other reasons as to why it has appeared.

As he continues to talk with Marley's ghost, it says, “I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.” To which Scrooge replies "You were always a good friend to me . . . Thank’ee!”

Here Scrooge discerns another reason for the presence: his old friendship with Marley. In this moment, Marley's desire to help out his old friend has caused the ghost to appear. However, when the ghost tells him about the three spirits yet to come, "Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost’s had done." Scrooge's understanding begins to shift again. This is no kind act of friendship; this is something more. However, Scrooge's new understanding holds for only a brief moment, as in stave 2 Scrooge's perspective again shifts as his mind again attempts to rationalize the ghost away.

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought.

Marley’s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through, “Was it a dream or not?”

Here Scrooge again has trouble believing that the ghost has even appeared at all, in some ways returning to his initial belief that the vision was all the result of indigestion. However, this perspective is soon obliterated once and for all as Scrooge meets the first of the three spirits and revisits his own past.

 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,361 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Scrooge thinks that Marley's ghost is merely the result of some indigestion. He says,

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

Scrooge believes that he might have eaten something not entirely fresh, something that is now wreaking havoc with his senses, and that this explains what he evidently believes is a hallucination of sorts. In his final sentence above, he actually uses a pretty clever pun to explain this view. The words gravy and grave obviously sound a lot alike, and Scrooge employs some (surprisingly) witty wordplay when he suggests that Marley's ghost is more likely the result of something Scrooge ate (like a gravy) rather than the result of Marley actually being dead (as in, in a grave). His choice to use two words that sound so much alike produces the humor. However, he is soon made to believe his senses.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial