Tag Archives: metaphor

Lit. Chat: Who is the Ghost of Christmas Present?

I’m having a blogging identity crisis. This blog started out with advice about best practices and experiences with technology integration. I reviewed some tools and created some tutorials. Then as I began interacting with other educational bloggers I became more interested in griping, forecasting and daydreaming. Recently I got into a discussion with my 9th grade English class that inspired me to try to engage in a different online conversation… about books.

My 9th graders just finished reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and were very interested in the metaphors behind the second ghost Scrooge encounters. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a great metaphor for students to work on because it is ambiguous, but not so ambiguous that they get frustrated and give up working it out. Dickens gives the reader enough clues to attempt to work it out. Is the ghost God? He offers some insight into that question when he says:

“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us” (Dickens 48).

 This theory is problematic though, particularly if we think of God as the monotheistic, Judeo Christian God. The problem comes when the Ghost says that he has more than 1800 brothers. A Christmas Carol was originally published in 1843 so it seems clear that Dickens is saying that there is one Ghost for each year.

The Ghost dies at the stroke of midnight. If each of the Ghosts does the same… then there would only be one alive at a time, right? Which brings back the monotheistic God theory.

Other theories that the students had (as I beam with pride) were that perhaps the Ghost was a symbol of Time, like classic Father Time figure, who is born, ages and dies in the span of a year. Certainly his name is suggestive of a period of time. Coupled with the powerful imagery of the two children hidden under his robes, a powerful argument can be made for this theory as well.

Do any of you want to talk about this book with me or my students? Perhaps we could blog or even Skype about the topic.


Cited: Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Bantam Classics, 1986.

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