Arthur Rackham, Illustration for Edition of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ 1915

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens was first published in 1843. The story tells of the miser Ebenezer Scrooge on a cold Christmas Eve, seven years after the death of his business partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge sees Christmas as an interruption to making money, but begrudgingly lets his clerk Bob Cratchit have Christmas Day off. Scrooge refuses to give to poor beggars, refuses an invitation to a dinner, and generally writes off Christmas spirit with a “Bah humbug.”

After bolting himself into his room that night and falling asleep, he is awoken by the ghost of Jacob Marley, who is chained to cashboxes that he must now drag around with him in the afterlife. The cashboxes represent his greed; he exhorts Scrooge to change his money-grubbing ways, or he too will suffer in the afterlife. Before Marley leaves he tells Scrooge that he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

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