It’s almost Midnight, Christmas Eve. Midnight. The same time on the same night that Scrooge was reunited with his long time friend and business partner Jacob Marley. In fact, Scrooge now resides in Marley’s house! Something I am sure Scrooge felt he was doing service for since Marley himself had no heirs after death. How fitting he died 7 years prior, on Christmas Eve.
Jacob Marley, best known for his icon chain that is wrapped around him for all eternity. The chain that he himself forged in life. But it’s not just the chain that is an important part of Jacob Marley’s post life wardrobe. In fact, many versions of A Christmas Carol leave this out completely. It is the handkerchief wrapped around his chin and head. Dickens’ notes that this is something Scrooge had never seen before but yet Marley looked exactly the same as he did in life. And what happens when Marley removes the handkerchief wrap? “when the phantom taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm to wear in-doors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!” Yes how creepy is that!? Marley’s jaw comes disconnected when the wrap is removed to further get through to Scrooge that his visit is very serious and dire.
Marley is cursed in his after life to witness the hardships of mankind. To always be next to but never able to save those he could have helped while alive. He can’t even offer any words of encouragement or cheer. Jacob Marley is anguish. He is regret incarnate. Probably my favorite iteration of Jacob Marley is from the 1951 film Scrooge (Released as A Christmas Carol in the US). Sir Michael Hordern seems to capture the desperation and torment that Marley goes through perfectly. You can hear his anguish as he pleads with Scrooge, “Mankind was our business!!” Side Note: The film was released on Halloween 1951 in the UK and has an interesting “mistake” toward the end when Scrooge looks in the mirror. Can you find it?
Marley is successful in helping Scrooges enlightenment. People can change, or at least open their hearts a little bit more than they are. While 2015 has been tough on so many of us, don’t let it close our minds and hearts for a better 2016. And wear not a binding that prevents you from speaking your thoughts or heart. We can lift our voices and be heard by everyone.