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Compare the descriptions of the four ghosts in A Christmas Carol. Which do you find the most effective and why?

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Introduction

Compare the descriptions of the four ghosts in 'A Christmas Carol'. Which do you find the most effective and why? Dickens' little Christmas book, 'A Christmas Carol', was one of many of Christmas novels, however the book, as well as selling six thousand copies in one week, has become Dickens most famous novel. Although the Victorians opinions of ghosts were conformist and modern day reader's opinions are more lax; the variety of spectres ensured it appealed to both ages and revived the charitable meaning of Christmas for the Victorians. The first ghost Dickens introduces to the reader is Marley and he uses vivid adjectives to illustrate the typical conventions of a ghost. Some of these conventions are shown when Dickens writes, 'The same face: the very same', and describes his clothes as, 'usual waistcoat, tights, and boots'. In saying that the ghost has, 'the same', face and clothes as the person it originated from, it conforms to the stereotypical image of a ghost. This makes the reader feel more comfortable with the opening of the novel; allowing the reader to make the prediction that the other ghosts would be similar. This successfully results in the reader being shocked later on in the book. Furthermore, Dickens uses personification to create the suspense and fearfulness that the reader would expect a ghost to do. This is evident with the quote, ' flame leaped up', and, 'it cried, "I know him! Marley's ghost"'. ...read more.

Middle

This representation is further emphasised with the imagery, 'now with one leg', and, 'now with twenty legs' as it gives an interesting, visibly imaginable example of the change. These quotes are successful as the reader can see that the ghost represents the fact that every action has a consequence. Though you might not see the consequence instantly, it will appear in the future. This is extremely unconventional for a ghost. Likewise, Dickens uses hidden meanings to make the spectre even more irregular. He describes the tunic as, 'the purest white'. White is associated with purity, innocence and can also be angelic. This implies that the ghost is not evil and the thought of a ghost being somewhat similar to an angel would disturb Christian families, as ghosts can be an analogy to hell. Though it surely was a controversial comment, it paid off and is one of the most imaginative quotes in the book. The two first ghosts are extremely different from each other. In the ghost of Jacob Marley, Dickens uses conventional ghostly ideas such as being transparent and looking the same as the person they were however, the ghost of Christmas past is unusual due to the fact it is described as being like a child and wearing white. The impact on the original reader is that they begin to favour the second ghost as it's human-like feature make it easier to associate with. The juxtaposition between the ghosts is effective because it makes the reader want to find out whether the next ghost is conventional or not. ...read more.

Conclusion

An obscure interpretation is that the quote is a metaphor for how the ghost make everything miserable and grave in it's presence; because the ghost is also very grave, it makes the ghost indistinguishable from its surroundings. This successfully contrasts sharply with the previous two ghosts, as they were less severe and more unconventional. This results in the reader feeling discomforted by the return to the typical stereotype. The two final ghosts vary completely from each other. On the one hand the ghost of Christmas present is very unconventional. He represents charity and good will, which should be the meaning of Christmas. This is successful, as the Victorian readers would not expect this ghost in a ghost story however the point of the ghost wasn't to scare the readers, but to communicate charitable values to the readers and to Scrooge. Whereas the ghost of Christmas yet to come can be seen as the most typical ghost because it carries a sorrowful ere around with itself. This may even be more surprising than the third ghost as after two progressively unconventional ghosts; Dickens returns to the most conformist image of a ghost imaginable. In conclusion, I think that the most effective ghost is the ghost of Christmas present due to the fact that in being shockingly different from the other ghosts, its message was carried clearly and profoundly to the reader. Although an original reader may disagree with me, as the ghost was too uncommon for the time; I think that it's outright defiance to the norm, would have alerted the reader to the ghost and would have helped put across the original meaning of Christmas. Robert Ankcorn English coursework ...read more.

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