A Christmas Carol

Jacob Marley Character Analysis

Scrooge’s former business partner. Despite not being particularly missed by Scrooge, he was nevertheless the miser’s only friend, and is the figure that haunts and protects him by appearing in place of Scrooge's door knocker and introducing the three Christmas ghosts. He makes manifest the horror of regret with his burdensome chain and describes how he is doomed to wander the earth for eternity, a fate that Scrooge too will face unless he changes his ways.

Jacob Marley Quotes in A Christmas Carol

The A Christmas Carol quotes below are all either spoken by Jacob Marley or refer to Jacob Marley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of A Christmas Carol published in 2003.
Stave 1 Quotes

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Related Characters: Jacob Marley
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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'Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!'

Related Characters: Jacob Marley (speaker), Ebenezer Scrooge
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Stave 5 Quotes

'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. 'The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh, Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!'

Related Characters: Ebenezer Scrooge (speaker), Jacob Marley
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

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Jacob Marley Character Timeline in A Christmas Carol

The timeline below shows where the character Jacob Marley appears in A Christmas Carol. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Stave 1
Family Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
The narrator states that there was no doubt about Marley’s death. Scrooge, Marley’s business partner, signed the register of his burial. The narrator considers that... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
...to grieve much (apart from the loss of business), and got a bargain price for Marley’s funeral. Since the firm’s name has always been Scrooge and Marley, Scrooge has taken to... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws Theme Icon
...one of the two partners listed above the door he is. Scrooge informs them that Marley died seven years ago this very night. The two gentlemen hope that Scrooge will be... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
...family. Scrooge, meanwhile, goes home to a suite of gloomy rooms that used to be Marley’s. The narrator describes the building as completely out of place, as if it was once... (full context)
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
...sane man. He also mentions that Scrooge had not been thinking about his late partner Marley. The narrator then explains what a surprise it is to Scrooge when he looks at... (full context)
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...hurries indoors, annoyed by the apparition. He stops briefly to check that the back of Marley’s head is not similarly behind the door. Again scorning his fear, Scrooge goes upstairs to... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...with tiles that illustrate stories from scripture but over all of these famous figures comes Marley’s ghostly face again. Scrooge dismisses the vision with a “Humbug!” but suddenly a bell in... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
The ghost appears just as Scrooge remembers Jacob Marley, except that he is totally transparent and carries a huge chain about him. But even... (full context)
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Scrooge asks Marley to sit. He wonders, because of his transparency, if he is able to sit, but... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws Theme Icon
At this, Marley shakes his chain and makes a terrifying sound. Scrooge admits that he believes now but... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws Theme Icon
Marley cannot stay long, with many journeys ahead of him. Scrooge jokes that he must have... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Scrooge is now terrified and vows to listen. Marley tells Scrooge that he will soon be visited by three spirits, and he has the... (full context)
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
Then, Marley’s ghost beckons Scrooge over. Scrooge begins to hear a chorus of wailing sounds, which Marley’s... (full context)
Stave 2
Past, Present and Future – The Threat of Time Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...goes back to bed and thinks, but the more he thinks that the episode with Marley was all in his head, the more the visions spring up in his mind and... (full context)
Stave 5
Family Theme Icon
Greed, Generosity and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Christmas and Tradition Theme Icon
Social Dissatisfaction and the Poor Laws Theme Icon
...door knocker again, and exclaims how thankful he is to it for showing him Jacob Marley’s face. (full context)