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Jacob Marley is the long-deceased business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. He is a supporting character from Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol and its many adaptations.



In life, Marley was described as being just as ruthless and greedy as Scrooge and seemed to enjoy being so. In death, Marley is depicted as being very regretful of his actions when he was alive. He continuously wails in agony, showing his desire to be free of the burden of being reminded of his hatred towards the world. He does seem to maintain his sense of humor however, as he gleefully toyed with Scrooge by shocking him with his appearance and pulling a variety of undead acts, though some of it is implied to be unintentional.

Physical appearance[]

In the original Charles Dickens novel, Jacob Marley is described as thus:

Marley in his pig-tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling like his pig-tail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

All adaptations retain this typical look. In the 2009 film version, Marley is shown to be a ghastly blue color and levitates off the ground with his hair also floating. His clothes are slightly tattered and he is shown to be possess spectacles, though they are clearly of no use to him. He wears a cloth band around his head which is apparently meant to keep his mouth perfectly situated. One of his most horrifying traits is the fact that his mouth comes loose around the cheeks and his teeth are in bad condition. His eyes are also unfocused as he initially does not look directly as Scrooge, but later manages to get his eyes to drop down, albeit separately.

Role in the story[]

In life, Marley, like Scrooge, was a bitter, greedy and selfish man. When he died, he was cursed to eternally wander the earth as a decrepit spirit, forever burdened by a mass of chains that represent his accumulated sins. On the 7th anniversary of his death, which falls on Christmas Eve, Jacob Marley's ghost visits Scrooge in his house, warning him that he will suffer the same fate if he does not change his ways and informing him that he will be visited by three spirits later that night. Marley was presumably made visible to Scrooge for this visit as part of the arrangement among the spirits to convince Scrooge to change his ways. Marley warns Scrooge to expect the first ghost when the clock tower tolls 1, the second the same night at the same hour, and the third upon the same night when the clock tower has reached the last stroke of 12. Because A Christmas Carol is a story involving time travel, all this could happen in one night. Scrooge even lampshades this, concluding the spirits could do whatever they wanted.

Scrooge is initially against this idea and unsuccessfully suggests that the three ghosts visit him all at once to get it over with faster as Jacob Marley leaves the room and disappears, but not before telling Scrooge that they never will see each other again. When Scrooge is dragged towards the window, thanks to one of Marley's chains, he is horrified to see thousands of spirits who, like Jacob Marley, were all green, misty ghosts bound in chains.

Eventually Scrooge was haunted by the three spirits and learned to change his ways, thus avoiding Marley's fate.

Disney characters portraying Marley[]


The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Jacob Marley.


External links[]

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A Christmas Carol logo
A Christmas CarolSoundtrack
Ebenezer ScroogeBob CrachitFred HolywellBelleJacob MarleyMrs. CrachitTiny TimMr. FezziwigFanMrs. DilberOld JoeThe Ghost of Christmas PastThe Ghost of Christmas PresentThe Ghost of Christmas Yet to ComeIgnorance and Want
See Also
Mickey's Christmas CarolThe Muppet Christmas CarolWinnie the Pooh: Springtime with RooDick Daring's All-Star Holiday Stunt Spectacular VA London CarolCaptain ScroogeA Christmas CruellaMarley