The Ghost of Christmas Past is one of three fictional Christmas Spirits who visit Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol to offer him a chance of redemption. Appearing in Stave Two, the Ghost of Christmas Past is the first of the three Spirits to appear to Scrooge after the appearance of the ghost of Jacob Marley. Appearing to be young and old at the same time, the Spirit has a bright light streaming from the top of its head and carries a large cap in the shape of a candle extinguisher under its arm. The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives in Scrooge’s bedchamber as the clock chimes one. Each of the Ghosts of Christmas represents a different time in Scrooge’s life, and the Ghost of Christmas Past is concerned with the Christmases from Scrooge’s past – near and distant. The events of the past “are but shadows” and the bright light the Spirit emits illuminates Scrooge’s memories.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a strange, otherworldly creature which shimmers and flickers like a candlelight, constantly changing in appearance as it reflects Scrooge’s memories, old and new. As one memory comes sharply into focus another fades. As the Spirit represents Scrooge’s youth so it can appear youthful, and its skin is of the “tenderest bloom”; but as Scrooge is now old so the Spirit will also appear old, to reflect this. The Ghost’s clothing continues in the same contradictory vein as it holds a branch of holly, which symbolises Winter while its robe is trimmed with summer flowers. In addition, the constantly changing aspect of the Spirit may be attributed to representing the various other people seen in the visions revealed to Scrooge.
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