Charles Dickens's novel, A Christmas Carol (1843), is the famous redemption tale of the wicked Ebenezer Scrooge. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by spirits, including his former business partner Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.
Each ghost has a different message for Scrooge about how his penny-pinching and indifference has affected himself and others who care about him. By the end of the story, Scrooge has become enlightened and vows to change his mean, miserly ways before it's too late.
The Ghost of Jacob Marley
Marley's ghost tells Scrooge why he has appeared to him on Christmas Eve, wearing the chains he forged in life.
"It is required of every man," the ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death."
The Ghost of Christmas Past
After reliving his past and seeing his kindly former mentor Fezziwig, Scrooge is overwhelmed. He tells the Ghost:
"Spirit!" said Scrooge in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."
"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"
Ghost of Christmas Present
"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."
The Ghost of Christmas Present is telling Scrooge not to blame his past bad behavior on anyone else or any divine influence.
Scrooge takes a long time to get on board with the spirits, but once he does, he panics that he's run out of time to redeem himself.
"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!" Scrooge says this to the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge is doubting his senses, and can't believe that the Ghost is real.
"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?"
After visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, Scrooge most fears the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. When he sees what this spirit has to show him, Scrooge begs to know whether the course of events can be changed:
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
When he wakes up on Christmas morning, Scrooge realizes he can make amends for his past cruelties.
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"