What is Scrooge's initial attitude toward the spirit?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Charles Dickens' classic story "A Christmas Carol," miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge treats everyone around him horribly. He rejects the Christmas dinner invitation of his earnest young nephew, Fred; he fails to donate to the poor when asked to do so; finally, he only begrudgingly gives his clerk, Bob Cratchit, one day of paid time off for the holiday. 

Thus, the spirit world chooses to intervene, and Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who appears to Scrooge in his room on Christmas Eve. Scrooge first encounters foreshadowing of this appearance when he sees his door knocker morph into Marley's face. Scrooge's response to this phenomena is that of a man stifling his fear:

A Christmas Carol

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle. He did pause, with a moment’s irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley’s pigtail sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said “Pooh, pooh!” and closed it with a bang.

Scrooge dismisses this "threat" and promptly goes to his bedroom, where he double locks the door against his "custom." After supper, he notices a bell beginning to ring in the room, hears the cellar door flying open below, and the noise of dragging chains approaching his door. Scrooge again dismisses these things: "It's humbug still... I won't believe it."

When Marley's ghost finally does appear, Scrooge coldly demands what Marley wants from him, who he is (although it's already clear!), and if he can sit down. This questioning is just more evidence of Scrooge's skeptical heart and doubt-filled mind. Ultimately:

...he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Scrooge first sees the spirit of his partner, Jacob Marley, he cannot believe his eyes.  He mutters that the vision must me caused by "an undigested bit of beef or an old potato".  Because he does not believe that the ghost is real, he acts in an arrogant manner, loudly proclaiming, "You are an old potato!"  It is not until Marley's ghost shrieks and begins to describe events from his life that Scrooge becomes frightened at what he sees.  When Scrooge is carried through the air to witness the poor souls who are caught between the worlds as Marley is, he whimpers and crijes like a child until he is dropped back into his bed.  As soon as the vision disappears, Scrooge begins to doubt that the incident ever took place at all... until the Ghost of Christmas Past appears.

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A Christmas Carol

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