- Jacob Marley
Jacob Marley's ghost visits Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
First appearance A Christmas Carol 1843 Created by Charles Dickens Information Gender Male
Relationship with Scrooge
In life, Marley was the business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. As teenagers, both men had been apprenticed in business and met as clerks (presumably in accounting) in another business. The firm of Scrooge and Marley was a nineteenth century financial institution, probably a counting house, as Marley refers to their offices as 'our money-changing hole'. They have become successful bankers, with seats on the London Stock Exchange; they are also stockholders, moneylenders, and directors of at least one major association, but a vast amount of their wealth has been accumulated through usurious moneylending. Scrooge is described as Marley's "sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner". He has been dead seven years by the time the story begins.
Jacob Marley preys upon Scrooge's mind in many different ways. First, his face appears in place of Scrooge's door-knocker as Scrooge approaches his lodgings; secondly, Scrooge gets the impression of a "locomotive hearse" ascending the stairs before him as he climbs; thirdly by making his face appear to engulf the whole design of the fireplace in Scrooge's bedroom; next by making every bell in the house ring of its own accord and then, most famously, by appearing before Scrooge in the form of a ghost himself.
The ghost maintains the same voice, hairstyle and sense of dress that he had in life, but is completely transparent, wearing a handkerchief tied about his jaws, and "captive, bound and double-ironed" with chains which are described as "long, and wound about him like a tail; it was made... of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel." He often, in moments of great despair or impatience at Scrooge's skepticism, flings these upon the ground before him and almost induces his former partner "into a swoon". He explains that it is the chain he subconsciously built himself in life, as a result of his extortionate behaviour. The ghost is also described as being provided with "an infernal atmosphere of its own... its hair and skirts, and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven". He despairs at his inability to ever find happiness in the mortal world or the next. As he spent his life on this earth obsessing over money and mistreating the poor and wretched to fill his pocket, Marley is damned to walk the earth for all eternity, never to find rest or peace.
At first Scrooge does not believe that Marley's ghost is real, and a mere figment of his imagination. When the spectre asks, "Why do you doubt your senses?" Scrooge scoffs that "...a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!" Later, more pointedly he says, "Humbug, I tell you! Humbug!" Marley's only reply is a spine-chilling howl that brings Scrooge to his knees, begging for mercy. Satisfied, after explaining his situation and the reasons for it, Marley delivers his message of the three hauntings that will help redeem Scrooge of the same punishment, he then flies out of the window in the company of other restless souls, all of them chained in a similar manner to himself, and all of them suffering the same incessant torture.
The life and afterlife of Jacob Marley is not detailed in A Christmas Carol. The reader has no idea exactly how Marley escaped with an arrangement for Scrooge's redemption. Even he himself appears uncertain as to how he is visible to Scrooge "on this night", when he has followed him, invisible, on "many and many a day".
However, various adaptations of A Christmas Carol have made various differences to Marley. In the 1999 film version of A Christmas Carol, for example, his birth-date is given as 1785, and in Mickey's Christmas Carol, it is said that Marley (played by Goofy) left very little in the way of a fortune, so he was instead buried at sea. In that same film, he was implied to be a ruthless criminal as well, "robbing the widows and swindling the poor", all in the same day and his punishment of being "forced to carry his heavy chains for eternity-- or maybe even longer" was a result of it.
Appearances in other media
- In 1963, President John F. Kennedy quoted Marley in his speech about businesses in America, saying "Humanity was my business".
- Michael Hordern played the role of Marley twice, once in the 1951 film of A Christmas Carol and then as the voice of Marley in Richard Williams' 1971 animated film.
- In the 1970 film Scrooge, Marley (Alec Guinness) is given an extra scene where he escorts Scrooge to hell before Scrooge wakes up.
- In the 1983 special Mickey's Christmas Carol, the character is played by Goofy (Hal Smith).
- In the film Scrooged (1988), a modern interpretation of Dickens' novella, Jacob Marley is portrayed by John Forsythe.
- He made a cameo appearance in The Real Ghostbusters in the episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot".
- In the 3000 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Devil's Due, Data reenacts Jacob Marley's scene, playing the role of Scrooge. A holodeck version of Marley is portrayed by William Glover.
- In the 1992 movie The Muppet Christmas Carol, the character is bifurcated into two brothers named Jacob and Robert so that they can be played by Statler and Waldorf (Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz). The joke is that Jacob Marley has a brother named Bob - as in reggae singer Bob Marley. They sing the number "Marley and Marley" where they lament their suffering and warn Scrooge of what he will face.
- In 1993, Aimee Mann released a song called "Jacob Marley's Chain" on her album Whatever.
- In the 1994 special A Flintstones Christmas Carol, the character is called 'Jacob Marbley' and is played by Mr. Slate (John Stephenson). A stone tablet portrait shows of Marbley cheating Scrooge by tipping his side of the scale with his finger.
- Marley's grave - covered in chains - can be briefly seen in one scene from the 1994 film The Pagemaster
- In the 1995 made-for-TV film Ebbie, Jeffrey DeMunn plays Marley's modern version, Jake Marley, Elizabeth "Ebbie" Scrooge's mentor and later partner who dies of a heart attack right in front of her.
- In the 1996 made-for-television film, The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas, Marley appears as a door knocker at The Munsters house.
- In the 1997 made-for-television film, Ms. Scrooge, Katherine Helmond portrays a female version of Jacob, Maude Marley
- In the 1998 episode of Sports Night entitled "Thespis", Jacob Marley is referenced and compared to Thespis of ancient Greece, when the show's production appears to be haunted by the ghost.
- In the 2000 made-for-television film, A Diva's Christmas Carol, Rozonda Thomas plays a female version of Jacob Marley, Marli Jacob. Here the character is free due to Ebony Scrooge's redemption.
- In the 2001 film Christmas Carol: The Movie, Marley is voiced by Nicolas Cage.
- In the 2010 film Christmas Cupid Marley was combined with Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life in the recently dead actress Caitlin Quinn. Here she must help her PR Agent Sloane Spencer in order to gain her wings.
- In the 2003 made-for-television film, A Carol Christmas, the "Jacob Marley" character was a stage mother-type aunt of Carol's: Aunt Marla, played by Dinah Manoff.
- Marley's Ghost is a 2003 play which is a prequel to A Christmas Carol.
- In the 2006 movie A Christmas Carol, the character is portrayed as an anthropomorphic cricket (just like Jiminy Cricket, who played the Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey's Christmas Carol). In this adaptation, he is given an extra scene where Scrooge's redemption frees him from his punishment.
- In 2008, Nightwish's single, "Bye Bye Beautiful", a reference to Jacob's ghost is made due to the problems that lead the band to fire their former singer, Tarja Turunen.
- The 2008 single "The '59 Sound" by American punk band The Gaslight Anthem mentions hearing "Marley's chains" after death and in life as the song contemplates the sudden passing of a friend.
- Marley's Ghost is the name of a Northern California band extant since the early 1990s whose diverse musical styles are principally focused on bluegrass, country, and folk.
- Jacob Marley's Ghost is an esoteric music group from the late 1990s which originated in Eugene, Oregon. Once led by Ezra Holbrook, the band now seems to be "defunct". http://www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/32r12.html. .
- In the 2008 comedy film An American Carol, the role of Marley is taken by the spirit of John F. Kennedy, portrayed by Chriss Anglin.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Exogenesis", Marcus makes reference to Marley while quoting Dickens.
- In the 2009 film adaptation, he is played by Gary Oldman.
- In the short story "Adaptation", by Connie Willis, Marley's ghost appears as a stand-in for the Ghost of Christmas Past (who has become corrupted by the increasing commercialisation of Christmas and retired to Florida).
- In a 2010 episode of The Young and the Restless "Victor's Christmas Carol," Albert Miller, the father of Victor Newman, is the incarnation of Jacob Marley, speaking to his son through a static-filled TV.
- In Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas his role is played by Sylvester the Cat (Joe Alaskey), but here he was his idol not his partner and was killed by a forklift.
- Jacob Marley appeared in a 2003 Christmas episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and was played by Jeremy Hardy who tortured Ebenezer Scrumph (played by Humphrey Lyttelton) by singing. The episode was broadcasted also on 27 December 2010.
- In the short-lived animated series Beverly Hills Teens, Jacob's role was played by Pierce Thorndike III.
- In a Christmas episode of The Jetsons, Mr. Spacely was visited by his dead partner Jacob Marsly. Both characters were voiced by Mel Blanc.
- In the 2011 episode of the ABC show Castle, Knockdown, Detective Raglan quotes Marley saying "Every year around the holidays they run that Christmas Carol on local TV. When I was a kid I remember that Jacob Marley scared the hell out of me. Forced to drag that, that chain around in the next world.'I made it link by link.'"
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