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The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

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TheGhostofChristmasYettoCome

Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Original illustration by John Leech (1843)

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, also known as the Ghost of Christmas Future, is a character from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

Role in the story

It is the third ghost who haunts the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to prompt him to adopt a more caring attitude in life and avoid the horrid afterlife of Marley. Scrooge finds the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come the most fearsome of the spirits; he appears to Scrooge as a figure entirely muffled in a black hooded robe, except for a single gaunt hand with which he points. Although the character never speaks in the story, Scrooge understands him, usually rough assumptions from his previous experiences and rhetorical questions. The Ghost's general appearance suggests that he may be associated with the Grim Reaper. The Ghost's muteness and undefined features (being always covered by his robe) may also have been intended to represent the uncertainty of the future. He is notable that even in satires and parodies of the tale, this spirit nonetheless retains his original look.

"The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. ... It thrilled him [Scrooge] with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black."

When the Ghost makes his appearance, the first thing he shows Scrooge is three wealthy gentlemen making light of a recent death, who remark that it will be a cheap funeral, if anyone comes at all. One businessman said he would go only if lunch is provided, while another said he didn't eat lunch or wear black gloves, so there was no reason for him to appear at this funeral. Next, Scrooge is shown the same dead person's belongings being stolen and sold to a receiver of stolen goods called Old Joe. He also sees a shrouded corpse, which he implores the ghost not to unmask, and a poor, debtor family rejoicing that someone to whom they owed money is dead. After pleading to the ghost to see some tenderness connected with death, Scrooge is shown Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the passing of Tiny Tim. (In the prior visitation, the Ghost of Christmas Present states that Tim's illness was not inherently fatal, but implies that the meager income Scrooge provided to Bob Cratchit did not provide funds for proper treatment.) Scrooge is then taken to an unkempt graveyard, where he is shown his own grave, and realizes that the dead man of whom the others spoke ill was himself.

This visit sets up the climax of the novella at the end of this stave. Moved to an emotional connection to humanity and chastened by his own avarice and isolation by the visits of the first two spirits, Scrooge is horrified by the prospect of a lonely death and by implication a subsequent damnation. In desperation, he queries the ghost:

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”

And in an epiphany in which he understands the changes that the visits of the three spirits have wrought in him, Scrooge exclaims: "I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!...I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

His transformation complete, Scrooge is ready to re-enter the world of humanity as he does in the story's denouement in the final stage.

Portrayals

Picture Performer Production Year Notes
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol 1962
Famous Classic Tales: A Christmas Carol 1969
Pete
(voiced by Will Ryan)
Mickey's Christmas Carol 1983 After showing Scrooge (played by Scrooge McDuck) the grieving Cratchits at Tiny Tim's grave, he brings Scrooge to his own grave and tosses him in there. It should be noted that, in the original vinyl record that inspired the special, the Ghost was portrayed not by Pete, but by Queen Grimhilde from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Jetsons: "A Jetson Christmas Carol 1985 The ghost at first resembles the ominous monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, until its front is shown with all sorts of computer-like buttons and a small screen. Mr. Spacely refers to him as The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be.
John Grin's Christmas 1986 Christmas Future is interpreted by Geoffrey Holder as a variation on his popular 007 villain Baron Samedi (from Live and Let Die). Dressed in voodoo regalia, Christmas Future comments on how miserly John Grin (Robert Guillaume) has no friends and no future. Christmas Future then shows Grin as guest of honor at his own funeral, with all those he scorned or shunned popping in to tell him what they think of his mistreatments. Laughingly, Christmas Future interjects assorted commentary as befits the proceedings. Aghast, Grin flees the theater...and wakes up in his own bed.
The Muppet Christmas Carol 1992
Yakko Warner
(voiced by Rob Paulsen)
Animaniacs: "A Christmas Plotz" 1993
Bluey the Penguin
(voiced by Jimmy Hibbert)
Avenger Penguins: "A Christmas Carol" 1994
Dino
(voiced by Frank Welker)
A Flintstones' Christmas Carol 1994 Philo Quartz is cast as the ghost in the Bedrock Community Theatre production of the play. However, Philo catches the Bedrock Bug before he can perform, so Dino fills in for him.
Ebbie 1995 Elizabeth Scrooge's security officer Luther becomes the Ghost.
Spot Chicken
(voiced by Tara Strong)
101 Dalmatians: "A Christmas Cruella" 1997
A Diva's Christmas Carol 2000 The Ghost is actually portrayed by a miniature TV showing a future episode of Behind the Music, about Ebony Scrooge.
James Cromwell A Carol Christmas 2003 The Ghost is portrayed as a tall, ominous-looking chauffeur.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical 2004 A blind old beggar woman whom Scrooge rebuffs later appears as the Ghost.
Tasmanian Devil
(voiced by Jim Cummings)
Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas 2006
Voiced by
Jim Carrey
A Christmas Carol 2009 The ghost is depicted as a shadow which has the ability to come out from the wall to a black physical form and can shrink Scrooge and chase him as a giant shadow carriage driver.
Hefty Smurf
(voiced by Gary Basaraba)
The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol 2011 Hefty is dressed in a short-sleeved robe with a hood similar to the way the Ghost was dresses (except its sleeves were longer.), and black Smurf pants.
Marshmallow
(voiced by Daneboe)
The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange: "Orange Carol" 2012
Jenny La CQ: "Christmas in the CQ" 2012

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