The Christmas Blogs: No Mercy for Marley?

It’s no secret that, like my father before me, I am a self–styled aficionado of all things A Christmas Carol. I’ve seen nearly every version released—I’ll get around to Zemeckis’ “animated” one when I’m good and ready—and listen every year to Sir Patrick Stewart’s classic one–man show. You could say it’s…engaging.

The redemption arc of Ebenezer Scrooge gets me every time, and it’s by turns cathartic and joyous.

Yet there is one aspect of the story that always sticks in my craw.

Jacob Marley

Nothing flowery really, just a question.

Does Jacob Marley get any sort of reprieve from his eternal torment for his act of generosity to save Scrooge?

Scrooge and Marley
“Come here, ass hat. You want to see how bad you’re screwing up?”

After all, this tormented soul who wanders the Earth mourning the fact that he has lost all power to intercede for good has, by some means, appeared to his friend and arranged an evening designed to save him from a similar fate. That’s a pretty fantastic gesture of kindness and love.

We’ll ignore for the time being that both The Korean and Jar Jar Hater would argue that getting involved at all is imposing your will on others and Marley shouldn’t try to save Scrooge or anyone else. They’re happier letting Scrooge continue burning a path to Hell, but for my two cents I applaud Marley’s efforts to save his friend’s soul by giving him a gut–check to Glory.

But I do think that Marley deserves something like early parole for his good behavior. It’s selfless, it’s generous and it shows that Marley understands the cause and effect of his situation. He should get some sort of reward for this.

To defeat those that would, for argument’s sake, say that Marley isn’t doing this out of the goodness of his soul but rather forced obligation: the text says otherwise. If the text says otherwise, you lose: and I know which of you just had an “aw shucks” moment.

And One More Thing

I’ve always been fascinated with the thought of a story about Scrooge maybe five years after the events in A Christmas Carol. Because the onus is on him after that night to try to go out and change the world for a better place. He has to carry forward what he’s learned and become such a shining example that everyone else gets on the train and joins in the fun.

That’s a big burden when you think about it. And actually, I think I might start writing a little fan fiction sequel now just for kicks. Something short. Anyone interested in that?

And to all a good night…

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8 thoughts on “The Christmas Blogs: No Mercy for Marley?

  1. I, for one, would be disappointed in any sequel that didn’t involve Scrooge standing on his head. (This is, of course, a reference to my favorite telling of the story.)

  2. Couldn’t leave well enough alone, eh? Fine. I’m your Huckleberry. Marley is a figment of Scrooge’s imagination. His subconcious manifested in a hallucination to save his own soul.

    1. That violates the rules of literature, context and common belief at the time Dickens wrote the story. The same mistake is oft made with Hamlet (or any Shakespeare play) when our modern cynicism and skepticism lead us to believe that the authors of those times would have had beliefs similar to ours.

      A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, plain and simple. The author wrote them to be ghosts, and Scrooge’s later statement that he could never be sure if they were real was the character’s way of saying “It doesn’t really matter whether anyone would believe me if I told them it was ghosts” and underlining that the lesson learned was the most important.

      This also doesn’t change your previously-stated position that you’d rather let someone go to Hell than try to help them find a better way. I never imagined I’d find a more merciless person than me but you and The Korean have proven me wrong.

  3. the sequel would have talked about how scrooge’s holiday (and i say holiday because we’re not even allowed to say Merry Christmas anymore or risk being fired) hysteria (and i say hysteria, well, read jar jar’s latest comment) maybe lasted a little while longer, through the taking down of holiday decorations – which has always been a little depressing even to me, maybe even into the new year. Until the long stretch of no holidays, crappy Mondays, thoughtless commuters, general selfishness and greed, unreasonable deadlines, redundant conversations with coworkers who you normally wouldn’t choose to spend one day with let alone years, on and on until the next holiday season where it’s all built up inside to the point of ebenezer once again needing a visit from his friends. in other words, back to the original story.

    the end.

    1. You can put on the cloak of cynicism all you want, my dear friend, but it doesn’t fit you well.

      Be the change you want to see in the world, right? Scrooge doesn’t need to go on and be perfect, but he can change. I’ve changed over the course of my life, sometimes in painful ways. So have you and so have billions of others. Reducing other people to “less than” ourselves because we think they are incapable of making the changes we make is exactly what led to Scrooge’s attitude.

      Scrooge thought that he was better than others, that they were slugabeds and layabouts who were trying to take advantage of his hard work and perseverance. And if he can understand that people – all people – can find a way to become better if they take a step back and assess who it is they’ve become, than even you can.

      I believe in you!

  4. I mostly agree with Jar Jar Hater. Part of the beauty of the story is that it is set up in such a way that a very viable interpretation of the events is that it’s all a dream/in his head etc. Scrooge says as much, repeatedly until he gets caught up in the visions. To me that’s a big, if not the biggest, part of beauty of the story: No man is entirely evil. The good in him that was repressed and locked away came out and showed him another way to live.

    I mostly disagree with Moriarty. I think a major life event, such as a psychotic break, does have the power to change a man. But you have a good point. Scrooge doesn’t go back to evil in the end because we don’t see him deal with evil. Cratchet and family are the model of “good” people like Scrooge in the beginning is the model of “evil”. Despite history, Bob forgives Scrooge and accepts him into his house. What I think you’re getting at, is as soon as Scrooge runs into an A-hole, he’ll say “F-it, humanity really does suck. Ima go back to getting mine and screw everyone else.” And this kinda cynical “realism” appeals to me if we were talking about real life. But we’re not talking about real life. We’re talking about fiction. Allegory at that. Therefore…

    I’d like to see something akin to Moriarty’s idea. The moral of the sequal being “It still ain’t easy, but it’s still the right thing to do, and int the end it is worth it.” So Scrooge *does* run into A-holes, may or may not fall off the wagon, but either quickly reigns himself in, or chooses the difficult but “good” path and is eventually, after some trials and tribulations, rewarded for it. On the face of it that’s not a great basic plot, but I have confidence that *you* could make it good.

    1. I think that the plot (in my opinion) should also incorporate the idea that people would try to take advantage of Scrooge’s new generosity of spirit. That would be the hardest to combat: the urge to feel like others were manipulating your good will to get more out of you.

      Scrooge might even fall off the wagon, but the greatest lesson he has is that all of his accumulated wealth and power, in truth, mean so little that it’s not worth worrying over. What matters is being a good person.

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