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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
A Christmas Carol
Jacob Marley is alive.
There is absolutely no evidence that he is dead.
The whole thing was for the benefit of Tiny Tim.
If you look at Marley and all the other ghosts, eternally damned for their greed and misanthropy, you have to wonder: what makes Scrooge so special? Why let the others sin their way into damnation, but give Scrooge a big spectral adventure through time and space to save him? Marley says that he arranged the spirits' visit, but why would they do what he says? There must be some larger purpose to making this random cranky bastard into a nice guy for the last few years of his life. Perhaps the universe has big plans for scrappy, kind-hearted little Tim Cratchett, and is making sure he survives his childhood. Would explain why Scrooge's future visions are, you'll die, your business associates won't care, your debtors will be relieved, your servants will sell your stuff, nobody will mourn, oh and TIM WILL DIE, REPEAT, THIS KID YOU NEVER HEARD OF UNTIL TODAY WILL DIE.
  • Also, while the reader hadn't heard of Tim up until that point, there is no clear indication that Scrooge hadn't.
  • There is no clear indication that he had, either. Scrooge wasn't the kind of guy whom you could pour your heart out to during business hours, nor the kind of guy most people would want to be around after them.
    • Actually, think about this, it is never stated that all those damned souls DIDNT recieve the chance that Scrooge did. For all we know, the spirits came to Jacob Marley as well, but he chose to ignore the lessons they taught him. What made Scrooge special was that seed of goodness that had been smothered by his lonely and hard life, while the other spirits may have had similar lessons, but simply didn't or couldn't change.
  • There have GOT to be easier ways to get Tiny Tim an operation than a massive Time-Travel Gambit. Such as just taking Crachit to the future, letting him copy down the Stock Reports or grab a Sports Almanac or something.

The whole thing was for the benefit of the Cratchett family in general.
Maybe the powers that be had decided they'd all suffered enough and didn't want Bob and the others to go through the pain of losing Tim.

The whole thing was to change the moral climate forever.
In The Screwtape Letters, or perhaps "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," Screwtape says that demons are intimidated by the pressure of working with particularly nasty people because they know how much they have to lose if the stupendous sinner repents and sets an example. "The great sinners," he says, "are made out of the same material as the great saints."

It's not hard to imagine why turning a classic sinner like Scrooge would be more important than a less extreme and caricaturish likeminded person.
  • It was all for the purpose of moral progression. Scrooge is rich, and if the ghosts could reform him and convince him to act out of generosity, it would give the people of London further inspiration to look out for one another.

Marley is not in Hell.
Alright, this one has some Catholic theology behind it. Thanks to this site, most people who end up on this page are familiar with the concept of Purgatory in some shape or form. Now, in Catholic parlance, Purgatory is the place where you go when you die when you're not quite ready for Heaven but not deserving of Hell. In Catholicism, you can be forgiven of your sins since God is all merciful, but there are also consequences to be paid, since God is also all just. You can pay those consequences on this side of life through acts of penance or if you aren't finished when you die, in Purgatory. A somewhat good analogy would be a teen who sneaks out of the house to go to a forbidden party, realizes their mistake and calls mom or dad to pick them up. Do mom and dad forgive the kid? Yeah, because they love him or her. But does that mean the kid will not be grounded forever?

There are two pieces of evidence to suggest Marley is in Purgatory instead of Hell.

1) He visits Scrooge out of concern for his well-being to help Scrooge avoid Marley's fate. Funny thing about Hell, people who go there tend not to give the rump of a rat about anyone else. It is a place of suffering, gnashing of teeth, cursing, and etc and etc... Basically there is no kinship in Hell. If Marley was in Hell, he wouldn't care if Scrooge suffered the same fate, might even have wanted Scrooge to suffer the same fate since misery loves company and all.

  • According to Jesus, even the damned care about their friends and family. The Rich Man wanted his brothers to avoid going to Hell, even though he knew it was too late for him. He was greatly saddened when Abraham told him that sending Lazarus as a Jacob Marley Warning would be pointless because those who don't listen to Moses and the Prophets won't listen to a man who came back from the dead, either.

2) Marley notes that he is doomed to endure his punishment until the end of time. Fun fact about Purgatory: it's not going to last forever. Once the End of Time is hit, Purgatory goes with it leaving only Heaven and Hell behind. Since Marley notes that he is doomed to walk the Earth until the End of Time and not for eternity, this indicates his punishment will indeed one day end. Just as Purgatory will one day end. And Marely's punishment seems very Purgatoryish, having to learn to come to terms with what a sad, sorry, excuse of a human being he was and how much hurt he caused.
  • Scrooge gets another chance. Why should the guy who's helping a friend and is sorry for how he lived his life be screwed?'

Scrooge should not have reformed.
  • He would be doing more good, so to speak, continuing to be miserly — um, fiscally responsible...

    • There is actually an article called "In Defense of Scrooge", by Michael Levin at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which takes this attitude. Though it may be satire.
    • There's nothing in the book that says he has to change the way he does business, though, just that he needs to stop being such a pissed-off dick to everyone. And is he really doing that much economic good by putting absolutely the smallest amount of money back into the economy as he possibly can? He pays taxes only very begrudgingly, lives on cheap gruel and doesn't want to even buy coal when it's cold.
    • If economic experts have it right, then misers hurt the overall economy. Money only has value when it's spent, and by taking a large chunk of money out of them system and sitting on it you're reducing the total wealth of society.

Scrooge cannot stay reformed.
He's not the only person in his line of work, and the others aren't that much better. And it is hard to maintain the Christmas spirit year-round when you are living in a business & warehouse district.

Inspired/stolen from a short story, "Who Killed Ebenezer Scrooge?" (also from the early 1990s).
  • Having the threat of dying within the next few years and being damned to Marley's fate if you don't stay reformed is a good choke chain for a naughty dog.
    • Fezziwig seemed to do well enough despite (possibly because of) his generosity.
      • Having read Dickens' full text via The Annotated Christmas Carol, I've concluded that Scrooge's primary failing was not his greed as such, but his utilitarian philosophy of reducing literally everything to simple, bottom-line numbers. His stinginess is his secondary failing, but its impact is doubled in tandem with the first: he reduces things to numbers, yet forgets that workers are people. Ironically, that even applies to himself—his apartment is dark and mostly bare of personal effects, and his favorite food is gruel, which was served in workhouses.

Bob Cratchit isn't that good a person.
He may be The Woobie, but he does work for Scrooge!
  • He seems to act like a man who has, or thinks he has, no choice. A man in such financial dire straits doesn't want to take any chances. Remember the economic circumstances of the times. It was the Poor Law days. You might say he could have done better than Scrooge, but that's assuming he could get another job at all, and his family may not have survived the transitional period, especially with a sick child in tow.
    • We're not shown nearly as much of his home life as we think (the film adaptations bleed into the memory). It seems his oldest daughter and son also work to help support his family. His wife may work too; it wasn't uncommon back then. The younger ones may be in school in order for them to have a better chance than Bob or his wife. But we're not told any of this, so it's all WMG. The fact is, conditions back then were awful, and the Cratchits were fortunate simply because they owned their home as opposed to renting it or being on a mortgage.

I know a lot of history but could you please remember A Christmas Carol serial came out in 1843 and it wasn't required by law until 1870 for children to go to school.

  • He also knows his financial situation better than anyone, yet continues to have kids like there's no tomorrow. Somehow, we're supposed to overlook this pattern of irresponsibility while blaming the resulting chaos on his employer (who has absolutely no control over how often Cratchit ejaculates into his wife's cervix).
    • This was time before proper condoms and way before the Pill. It's a bit much to assume that a couple has to stay totally celibate if they're poor.
      • It may also be that he could support his family if not for the expense of Tiny Tim's illness. Even today some people who could otherwise support their families are bankrupted paying for a child's medical treatment.
      • Healthcare, at the time, was "pray you die quickly," especially in a place as unhygienic as 1840s London. Families had to have a lot of children, because many of them died very early.
    • If you think 6 kids is a lot (as going by the book), then you should meet a couple of families who have 10 or 12 kids. As was extremely common back before the whole modern medicine thing when you could have eight or nine pregnanies/birth and two live children. Or none. Also while I realize Wikipedia is a terrible reference, it's 4am and I'm not reading A Christmas Carol when I have to wake up in a few hours, and it says that the oldest daughter and son were both working, meaning there are 3, maybe even 4 incomes in the house instead of 2. And you have a range of ages from young adults to a young child, suggesting that there was probably a good two years between each child, possibly more. It's likely that they used breast-feeding as their form of birth control and that doesn't last forever. They shouldn't have to not have however many kids they want (or, you know, the kind and amount of sex they want) because Scrooge is stingy.

We also have no reason to believe that Scrooge's business was in any way immoral. He may have been a rotten person, but nothing we see suggests he was dishonest or peddling anything destructive. It is no sin to work for a greedy man as long as the business itself is upright.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was Fan.

What could be more appropriate than the most important person in Scrooge's past showing him the way to the future? It makes since in that the GOCYTC was argueably the ghost that Scrooge most needed to hear from, and Fan cared more for Scrooge than anyone else ever had.

  • This could aslo explain why Yet To Come is the only ghost who never actually speaks to Scrooge. It's unclear whether he would have been able to recognize her voice as a spirit (he didn't recognize Marley at first, though), but even if he couldn't have, she might have avoided speaking lest she accidentally say something to tip him off.

The three Christmas ghosts were three of the Endless
The Ghost of Christmas Past could be death, as she is the most close to the humans. Destruction could represent Christmas Present. The Ghost of Christmas Future could be Destiny as he fills the character, he never gives a real answer (or any word at all, in the Ghost's case) he only say what's written to be said from him. The reason they do all this, is because Destiny asked them

Scrooge had been traumatized by the hard times of the early 1800s.
Regency Romances aside, England was not a good place to be during, and for some decades after, the Napoleonic Wars. The economy had been dreadfully strained by the long wars, and had only just recovered by the late 1840s. Since A Christmas Carol is set, sometime in the 1840s (when it came out), it's quite likely that Scrooge was the equivalent of a Great Depression survivor who can't let go of things that made sense then.
  • The education system was no better. Dickens' biggest complaints about his schoolmasters was that they did their damnedest to squash any traces of imagination out of him. Thankfully, he held on.

Jacob Marley was a victim of premature burial.
His ghost is depicted as wearing the same clothes he'd been wearing when he was still alive, yet his jaw is bound up with cloth like would be done by the undertaker. He must've fallen into a cataleptic state while wearing those clothes, and been buried alive in the belief he was dead. Miserly to the end, he'd left instructions that he be buried in whatever death-soiled outfit he died in — why waste a good suit? — so the mortician just tied up his jaw before consigning him to the grave, where he suffocated.

It was, in fact, All Just a Dream
It doesn't seem like that radical of an idea to this troper, but it seems like most people take it for granted that Scrooge really was visited by ghosts, when there's really no clear indication that it wasn't just a dream. All the inconsistencies and unanswered questions (ie, why was Scrooge singled out for redemtpion, what made Tiny Tim so important, etc.) could easily be because it was all a product of Scrooge's subconscious. He could well have been right from the begining—it was all just a bit of undigested cheese.
  • This assumes that he's met Cratchit's family and knows what they look like. He would also likely realize it was a dream if Fred's guests aren't the same people wearing the same clothes that he remembers or if the food is different. If it was a dream, he would quickly figure this out and he appears not to at the end of the story.
    • Believe it or not, a few hints do give credence to the "subconscious" idea. Scrooge has an old fireplace decorated on its inside (that is, where the fire would be) with reliefs of Bible stories; he is mentioned to see Marley's face in every single one of them. Also, an intense-enough dream probably can shock one out of a particular mindset.
  • Dreams and memory interact in funny ways — maybe Scrooge's subconscious made up what Cratchit's children and Fred's party guests looked like, and when he woke up, he forgot. Those are tiny details compared to the overwhelming sense, feeling, and conviction the dream would have given him.

Scrooge will bequeath his business to Cratchit and his personal assets to build a hospital.
We know Scrooge has no children of his own and very little time to live- certainly not enough to spend or give away all of his money. Furthermore, his nephew has never shown much interest in material goods anyway. Therefore, it stands to reason that Scrooge will bequeath to his nephew enough money to pay his debts and a little extra as a personal gift. As to the rest of his property, he will turn the business over to his new partner and longtime employee, Bob Cratchit, figuring he earned it with all those years of faithful service. He will order his personal assets to be liquidated with the proceeds used to build a hospital dedicated to treating the indigent, especially children.

Dickens made such a big deal about Marley being dead to prevent Wild Mass Guessing about his being alive.
  • Alternately, Marley is both alive and a Magnificent Bastard, having elaborately faked his death years before and hired people to pretend to be ghosts as part of a long-term Xanatos Gambit to redeem his friend, a scheme the whole community was in on, so they pretended to be their past or future selves. Not sure how they pulled off the apparent flying part.

Scrooge's father was also visited by spirits.
This explains why he did a complete 180 personalitywise and sent Fran to bring Scrooge home for Christmas instead of keeping him at that boarding school.

Bob Cratchit was late for work the day after Christmas because of a tryptophan coma.
Well, he did eat a rather large turkey on Christmas day, thanks to Scrooge.
The Children of HúrinWMG/LiteratureChronicles of Prydain

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