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Face of Jacob Marley

Jacob Marley Visual Arts Nineteenth Century Life Fiction

Near the beginning of "A Christmas Carol," Ebenezer Scrooge walks home from his office.  When he arrives at his residence, which his now-dead partner used to occupy, Scrooge has a sense that he sees Jacob Marley (his former partner) in the door knocker.

Scrooge is momentarily befuddled because the image he sees looks exactly like Marley. 

Dickens tells us more:

Now, it is a fact that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the City of London, even including—which is a bold word—the corporation, aldermen, and livery.

Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley since his last mention of his seven-years'-dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change—not a knocker, but Marley's face.

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow, as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look; with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face, and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

Click on the image for a better view of this illustration by Arthur Rackham.  It appears in the 1915 edition of "A Christmas Carol," which was published by J.B. Lippincott Company.


Media Credits

Image, described above, appears at page 4 of the 1915 edition illustration by Arthur Rackham.  Online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

PD

 

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"Face of Jacob Marley" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 26, 2013. Jul 23, 2019.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Face-of-Jacob-Marley>.
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