Exploring Dickens: The Ghost of Christmas Future

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – An Ominous Specter or Merely a Reflection

Perhaps the most ominous and terrifying of the spirits, and the one that always brings screams of glee with our production; The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a figure draped in mystery. Charles Dickens describes him in A Christmas Carol as “…shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand.” (Dickens, Carol) The figure is never given a face, or even a voice, which are just some of the elements that make this figure terrifying to both Scrooge and us alike. However, if you’re an inquisitive mind like myself you may ask the big capital ‘W’ question ‘Why?’ Why is this spirit silent? Why is he shrouded in mystery? Why does he become so much more dark and ominous from the others? Well save from being able to ask Dickens ourselves, there are plenty of clues in the original book that might set us on at least the right ‘path’ to understanding Dickens’ vision for this tall, dark, and scary spirit.

First, let’s start with his appearance. Why isn’t the Ghost of Christmas Future seen? Or heard? Well first, we know that the spirit is not a spirit at all, but a ‘phantom.’ A distinction Dickens points out in his writing. While all the others are ‘spirits’ this ghost is the only ‘phantom’ out of them. The way the phantom moves, and interacts with Scrooge is fundamentally different than the others; it does not speak, only show, and allows Scrooge to make his own conclusions. The not knowing a face, a thought, a voice, leads Scrooge to refer to say “…I fear you most of all.” (Dickens)

Now why doesn’t The Ghost of Christmas Future say anything? Surely if he explained the purpose behind all of these visions, it would make the point come across a lot quicker? Well, Scrooge may answer this question when he asks “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?” (Dickens) This question posed by Scrooge asks, is The Ghost of Christmas Future truly showing the future? Or is he nothing but a reflection of what the future is, as of now? If the latter is true, then The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come could never say anything because the future is not written. If it spoke, the things it would say would be unchangeable, written, and final; but because he doesn’t, and because we know the future is changed, we know that these are reflections of what ‘may happen’ as Scrooge asks.

But knowing that these are reflections of Scrooge’s current future, we are left with another thought. Perhaps The Ghost of Christmas Future is so terrifying and ominous because he is currently the reflection of Scrooge’s grim and terrifying future. If Scrooge’s future was more hopeful, or had already been altered by his actions, then it may be worth a guess that the Phantom would have appeared more happily or less foreboding. Given that Scrooge’s future is told in terms of the wake of his death, it makes sense that the Phantom appears like The Grim Reaper.


So that’s my theory on The Ghost of Christmas Future, why he doesn’t speak and why he’s the spookiest of the bunch. It’s only a theory, though, supported from the text clues shared with us from Charles Dickens’ masterful work.

Don’t agree? Share your thoughts with us! Tell us what you think about the Ghosts, or how they make you feel; and don’t forget to see A Christmas Carol with Virginia Stage running till Christmas Eve!