A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol Guilt and Blame Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Stave.Paragraph)
The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. (1.98)
This is one of the only visions of actual punishment in the novella. Why does Scrooge escape from any sort of negative comeuppance after a lifetime of misdeeds? We guess we're to assume that Marley never learned his lesson and apologized.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a doorstep. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever. (1.172)
Dickens's specialized vision of hell is being able to see but not being able to help suffering family and friends. Also, check out that inspired image of members of bad governments being linked together in eternal torment.
"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared."
"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief. (3.72-74)
Nice. The Ghost of Christmas Present really makes short work of Scrooge by quoting him back to himself. And in general, the idea of combating the urge to wave away anonymous crowds of the needy (like Scrooge does) by putting an individual face on the problem (like Tiny Tim) is a pretty old one—and it's still being used today. Just check out those regular joes who get invited to the State of the Union address every year—each of them functions as a face to put with an abstract concept each President is trying to promote.