Symbols in A Christmas Carol

Symbols Examples in A Christmas Carol:

Stave Two 2

"but though Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light..."   (Stave Two)

The light shining from the Ghost of Christmas Past symbolically represents all of Scrooge's memories. These memories pain him so much that he tries to rid himself of them. He struggles to hide the light (repress his memories) but is unable to do so, as they shine through the extinguisher-cap in full force. This symbol supports the theme of the importance of memory and its ability to cause change.

"a great extinguisher for a cap..."   (Stave Two)

The first ghost’s head casts a bright light, making visible those things that might not otherwise be seen. However, note that the ghost carries a cap that can act as an “extinguisher” for the light. The ghost holds the power to decide what is seen and unseen, shedding light on something or keeping it hidden. Light becomes a way of forcing Scrooge to face his own reality and the reality of those less fortunate that he has ignored. It will continue be used throughout the story as a symbol for his growth and development.

"antique scabbard; but no sword was in it..."   (Stave Three)

Note that the second ghost carries a torch that resembles “Plenty’s horn,” or the cornucopia, therefore symbolizing abundance. Consider also, that the ghost carries an old, rusty scabbard with no sword in it, suggesting a lack of use for a long time. The scabbard, then, serves as a symbol for peace, making the second ghost symbolize both abundance and peace.

"“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come?” said Scrooge...."   (Stave Four)

Note that the third and final ghost “seem[s] to scatter gloom and mystery.” As the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, it is no wonder that it is mysterious, as we do not know what the future holds. The fact that the ghost is “shrouded in a deep black garment” only adds to this mystery since its identity is completely unknown. If we also note the ghost’s resemblance to Death, or the Grim Reaper, it can be seen as a symbol of both the fear of uncertainty and the fear of death.

"It's a wonderful knocker..."   (Stave Five)

Recall that Scrooge first encountered Marley's ghost when he saw Marley's face in the knocker. The knocker still reminds Scrooge of Marley, but while initially this left Scrooge feeling terrified, he now views the knocker as being "wonderful." The knocker has become a symbol of the happiness that Marley gave Scrooge the opportunity to achieve.