How Much Food Does One Ghost Need?

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It's okay to want a lot of things and be materialistic, as long as you share those things with everyone else.

That's the message I always get from reading A Christmas Carol.  Dickens seems to reinvent the spirit of Christmas into something similar to the way people celebrate now.  Obviously I'm generalizing here, because this isn't true for everyone, but Christmas is no longer restricted to Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ - it's about celebrating community.  And there's nothing wrong with that because people can celebrate as they wish.

I just find it somewhat contradictory that the Ghost of Christmas Present is this giant man surrounded by a bunch of extravagant food.  He seems like the embodiment of gluttony to me.

"The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door."

I suppose he can't be seen as totally gluttonous since his whole message to Scrooge is to share with others.  It's just a bit baffling to me that this character seems to be endorsing the need for riches in order to share happiness and cheer.  We see that isn't the case with the Cratchit family, because of their gratefulness for every morsel they have, so the Ghost does effectively express the need for love among others over greed.  I guess I just have a problem with the way he is physically represented, because it takes the reader away from what the Ghost is essentially trying to prove to Scrooge.

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5 Comments

Josie Rush said:

I guess, ideally, Christmas is a time of abundance, whether it's abundance through gifts/giving, food, joy, whatever. And, as you point out, this is only a bad, almost hedonistic aspect if people selfishly keep those things to themselves, without regard for others.
That's why the ghost's portrayal didn't bother me too much; I feel like abundance is a theme of Christmas we sometimes take for granted.

Melissa Schwenk said:

Do the ghosts represent people who have not given back to society, and that’s why they’re ghosts? Or did that only have to do with the chains that some ghosts have? I know Marley was there because he didn’t give back anything, so it might be possible that the other ghosts represent people who also didn’t give anything back to those less fortunate, too. So maybe the ghost of the present is someone who was also gluttonous with his wealth and food and therefore is stuck as a ghost. However, if the only reason Marley was there was so that Scrooge didn’t receive a very heavy chain around him, then I’m not really sure why Dickens would choose to portray the second ghost so largely.

Josie Rush said:

Good point, Melissa. Also, remember the two children attached to this ghost: Ignorance and Want. We should consider why the children were with this ghost and no other. Having a lot is actually pretty frowned upon when the person with a lot is ignorant of the want of those around him/her.
As far as this ghost being a person who didn't give anything back...I don't know this for sure, but didn't Scrooge call these ghosts Spirits, and Marley was referred to as a ghost? So maybe there's a difference there? I'm not sure.

Carissa Altizer said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDIhFyCd6Bc

Hey Karyssa,

I thought you might find this movie clip interesting. It is a movie review for the new Walt Disney version of A Christmas Carol that is coming out this season. It shows all three ghosts, and the narrater likes the Ghost of Christmas present the best too. I'm not sure if they portrayed him the same way Dickens did though. It is a short movie clip, but the ghost of Christmas Present didn't seem to be surrounded by food. Perhaps he is later in the film?

Now that Kayla's presented on the mythology involved in Christmas, I understand much more. The whole idea about the Pagan traditions being interwoven with the traditional Christian celebration makes the Ghost of Christmas Present seem less about gluttony and more about tradition.

I think there's a different between the spirits and the ghosts.

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