Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 12 Scares of Christmas: Jacob Marley

     Tonight, we continue a seasonal series, exploring the darker side of Christmas. In this season of the darkest nights of the year and ancient traditions celebrating the passing of the season, those of us who are lucky enough to have haunted hearts appreciate the darker, creepy and sometimes terrifying aspects of the winter holiday-- some of which could not be more a part of the Christmas holiday in their own right.

 "Marley was dead: to begin with." From the very opening line, every reader of Charles Dickens' classic novel "A Christmas Carol" knows she or he is in for an encounter with that which goes bump in the night. "There is no doubt whatever about that, The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was dead as a door-nail."

 "A Christmas Carol" has been adapted countless times for film, televisiona and theater. The story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, an old miserly rich man cold to the world who is visited by ghosts of his past, present and future is an essential part of the Christmas experience. And four of the story's main characters-- at least-- just so happen to be visitors from beyond the grave. Whether in 1834 England when Dickens published his work, or in our modern world, there is a timelessness about the story, of a person needing to be scared straight back into life by a parade of ghosts.

 Jacob Marley, the first ghost to appear to Scrooge, is as much a spirit of Christmas as Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. With his clanking chains and cloth tied around his mouth to keep his dead jaw from falling open in the grave, Marley is a classic specter in every sense of the word. Arriving with the tone of a late night clock, in an old, empty and drafty house, shaking his chains. While the ghosts whose telling Jacob foretells are, as written by Dickens, original takes on kinds of ghosts, Marley is a ghost in great, long tradition of ghosts. In more direct words, Jacob Marley is scary. He is dead, and he has come to haunt Scrooge-- with a purpose, to attempt to save his former business partner from the fate he found himself in once the grave lid shut. 

First Photo:

Walt Disney Pictures 

No comments:

Post a Comment