The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, also known as the Ghost of Christmas Future or Ghost of the Future, is the third and final ghost who appears in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It appears to Ebenezer Scrooge to predict what happens to life in the future if he stays the way he is.
Role in the story
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the third apparition who haunts the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, in order to prompt him to adopt a more caring attitude in life and avoid the horrid afterlife of Marley. Scrooge finds the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come the most fearsome of the spirits; appearing to Scrooge as a figure entirely muffled in a black hooded robe, except for a single gaunt hand with which he points. Although the character never speaks in the story, Scrooge understands him, usually rough assumptions from his previous experiences and rhetorical questions. The Ghost's general appearance suggests that he may be associated with the Grim Reaper. The Ghost's muteness and undefined features (being always covered by his robe) may also have been intended to represent the uncertainty of the future. He is notable that even in satires and parodies of the tale, this spirit nonetheless retains his original look.
- "The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. ... It thrilled him [Scrooge] with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the dusky shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black."
When the Ghost makes his appearance, the first thing he shows Scrooge is three wealthy gentlemen making light of a recent death, who remark that it will be a cheap funeral if anyone comes at all. One businessman said he would go only if lunch is provided, while another said he didn't eat lunch or wear black gloves, so there was no reason for him to appear at this funeral. Next, Scrooge is shown the same dead person's belongings being stolen and sold to a receiver of stolen goods called Old Joe. He also sees a shrouded corpse, which he implores the ghost not to unmask, and a poor, debtor family rejoicing that someone to whom they owed money is dead. After pleading to the ghost to see some tenderness connected with death, Scrooge is shown Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the passing of Tiny Tim. (In the prior visitation, the Ghost of Christmas Present states that Tim's illness was not inherently fatal, but implies that the meager income Scrooge provided to Bob Cratchit did not provide funds for proper treatment.) Scrooge is then taken to a rundown graveyard, where he is shown his own grave, and realizes that the dead man of whom the others spoke ill was himself.
This visit sets up the climax of the novella at the end of this stave. Moved to an emotional connection to humanity and chastened by his own avarice and isolation by the visits of the first two spirits, Scrooge is horrified by the prospect of a lonely death and by implication a subsequent damnation. In desperation, he queries the ghost if this future can be changed. And in an epiphany in which he understands the changes that the visits of the three spirits have wrought in him. He then shows his face, which is a demonic, black skull with terrible burning eyes. This causes Scrooge to scream loudly in horror. Scrooge then says that he will "honour Christmas in his heart, and try to keep it all the year, he will not shut out the lessons of the Past, nor Present, nor Future," and begs to sponge away the writing on that stone." Suddenly, the stick that Scrooge is hanging onto becomes the Ghost's long boney finger, and this makes him let go. Scrooge then falls down to Hell, and in a flash, the Ghost disappears with the windy mist, never to be seen again.
In Disney adaptations
The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Ghost was puppeteered by Rob Tygner and his body was puppeteered by Donald Austen. The spirit shows Scrooge a vision of his unmourned death in the near future, as well as the death of Tiny Tim. In this movie, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a large, faceless wraith.
A Christmas Carol
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is initially a dark shadow on a wall, but when he comes out of the walls, he looks like The Grim Reaper. Scrooge states to the ghost that he "fears him more than any specter he has seen". Unlike the other two ghosts, this one doesn't speak. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is also the most phantom-like of the ghosts.
Occasionally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come rides a Phantom Horse and chases Scrooge throughout London on it. One chase sequence sees Scrooge shrunk to the size of a rat after the ghost cracks his whip, creating a shockwave in doing so. In the novel, Scrooge encountered a separate ghost riding a horse before his visit with Jacob Marley. In this version, the phantom horse is moved up to the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come's segment.