Stave 4 Summary
Scrooge meets the terrifying Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Scrooge says to him,
I fear you more than any spectre I have seen.
However, despite his terror of this spirit, Scrooge has learned from his experiences with the first two ghosts to expect a helpful lesson.
The spirit takes Scrooge to the center of London, where Scrooge realizes that people are discussing someone who has just died, but in unflattering terms. They speak of him as someone unloved and laugh harshly about attending his funeral, but only if they get a lunch out of it. The scene then dissolves.
Scrooge and the ghost next appear in a poor and filthy part of town that is full of narrow, ramshackle streets. In a sordid secondhand shop run by Old Joe, three people meet up: a laundress, a woman named Mrs. Dilber, and a man wearing faded black. They are all fencing goods they have stolen from a dead man. They dislike him so much that they have taken the shirt off his back and ripped the sheets and curtains from his deathbed. They comment that the man who has died was so hard-hearted in life that he deserves this fate. Scrooge watches, not knowing who the man is, but understanding the parallels with his own life. He states,
The case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way, now.
The scene then dissolves to a dark bedroom where a dead man lies. Scrooge is chilled as he hears the scratching of rats behind the walls, thinking they want to get at the dead body—and the scratching of a cat who wants the rats. Scrooge doesn't know who the dead man is. However, after all the callousness he has heard expressed over this man’s death, he asks to be shown someone who feels emotion that the man died. In response, the ghost takes Scrooge to see a woman, Caroline, along with her husband and children, who are joyful over the man’s death. They were about to be ruined for not being able to pay a debt, but now that the man has died, they will have time to gather the money to repay the loan.
Scrooge is not pleased that the family is so happy about the unknown man’s death and now asks to see someone who feels a tender or sad emotion about death. The ghost then takes him to the Cratchit house, where the heartbroken Cratchits are mourning the death of Tiny Tim. Bob Cratchit speaks very kindly of Scrooge’s nephew, who is...
(The entire section is 661 words.)