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Behold. One day of the year, they all grin and greet each other, when every other day they walk by with their faces in their collars. You know, it makes me very sad to see all of the lies. They come as surly as the snow this time of year. How many "Merry Christmases" are meant, and how many are lies? To pretend on one day of the year that the human beast is not the human beast? That it is possible we can all be transformed? But if it were so, if it were possible for so many mortals to look at the calendar and transform from wolf to lamb, then why not every day? Instead of one day good, the rest bad, why not have everyone grinning at each other all year and have one day in the year where we all beasts and we pass each other by? Why not turn it around?
~ Scrooge's speech on the hypocrisy of Christmas.
Bah. Humbug.
~ Ebenezer Scrooge's most famous quote.

Ebenezer Scrooge is the main protagonist of the 2019 British television miniseries A Christmas Carol, based on the 1843 novella of the same name by the late Charles Dickens. He is a cruel investor whose greedy nature and belief that all humanity is evil causes many deaths and misery for his employees. With the aid of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, he must repent from his sins or else suffer eternal damnation.

He was portrayed by Guy Pearce, who also portrayed Aldrich Killian in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Peter Weyland in the Alien franchise, Fernand Mondego in the 2002 film adaption of The Count of Monte Cristo, Kendall Duncan in Bedtime Stories, Leonard Shelby in Memento, and Dr. Emil Harting in Bloodshot. As a child, he was portrayed by Billy Barratt.

Biography

Early life

Ebenezer Scrooge was born to a poor family, and was the youngest of two children. Though his mother and older sister Lottie loved him, his father Franklin Scrooge saw him as a burden and frequently abused him. The Scrooge family's poverty led Franklin to being very tight with money, which instilled in Ebenezer from an early age the importance of wealth and material possessions above all else. Despite this, Ebenezer had a black horse that he used to get to and from school every day that he cared and provided for.

One Christmas, Ebenezer was given a pet albino rat with a bell around its neck as a gift, which he named Ulysses and loved dearly. However, his father was enraged by the gift; he saw the faux golden bell as a mockery of their poverty, despised the idea that the rat somehow ceased to be vermin simply due to the holiday, and saw it as nothing more than a nuisance and another mouth to have to provide for. In one of his drunken rages, Franklin stole the rat from Ebenezer and decapitated it in front of the boy. The event would traumatize Ebenezer, and instill in him a preference for animals over people for the rest of his life.

When Ebenezer reached adolescence, Franklin sent him off to boarding school and sold the boy's horse. Franklin made a deal with the school's headmaster that, in exchange for not having to pay any school fees, he would keep Ebenezer at the school during the Christmas holiday and allow the headmaster to have his way with the boy; he sold his own son. For the next few miserable years, reading was Ebenezer's only escape from the abuse he suffered, and his only companions were characters in stories, especially Ali Baba, the hero of 1001 Arabian Nights.

One Christmas, Lottie arrived at the school and informed Ebenezer that their father had finally been thrown out of the family, and that Ebenezer was to be taken home. Overjoyed, Ebenezer fled to the carriage, and when the schoolmaster tried to give chase, Lottie pulled a gun on him and threatened to reveal his crimes if he tried to follow. Lottie and Ebenezer went home, but it was too late: Ebenezer had lost his faith in humanity, and found himself incapable of loving another, even his own sister.

Scrooge grew up cold and bitter, but when he was a young man, met a woman named Elizabeth and began to fall in love. However, his hardened heart and pessimistic outlook on life led the two to break up late in their relationship, an event which further convinced Scrooge that he was incapable of love and that happiness was a myth.

Lottie was eventually married and had a son named Fred, but died young. Ebenezer mourned her death, and held an irrational grudge against his nephew because of it, blaming him for her passing. Even after Fred grew up and married, Scrooge still refused to acknowledge him or accept his invitations to dine with them on Christmas.

Business

Later in life, Scrooge met Jacob Marley, another ruthless businessman, and together they started an investment firm, buying factories and coal mines to increase their profits. They blackmailed a man into selling his late father's textile factory, and then proceeded to flip it and sell it for hundreds more pounds than they purchased it for. In another extension of their greed, they removed safety measures from many of their factories and mines, leading to at least four major accidents, including a fire in a factory and a collapse in a coal mine, that took the lives of dozens of men, women, and children. Despite this, Scrooge and Marley bribed the judges and had them rule the accidents as the fault of the employees.

One Christmas, Marley passed away suddenly. Scrooge had him buried, unaware that Marley was in purgatory as punishment for his crimes.

Scrooge employed Bob Cratchit at his office as a clerk, though he treated him poorly. After a few years of service, Cratchit's wife Mary gives birth to their second child, a son named Timothy "Tiny Tim" Cratchit, who suffers from fluid in the lungs and a crippled leg. Knowing that Tim would die without surgery, Mary visited Scrooge one morning and pleaded for a loan. Scrooge agreed, but only if she would meet him at his home on Christmas Day and do whatever he asked. Mary reluctantly agreed, and set out on Christmas Day to meet Scrooge. Once there, assuming he desired sexual favors, she undressed in front of him. Scrooge then told her that he did not seek any kind of sexual favors, as he found himself incapable of love or lust. He explained that his only desire was to see how low she, a married woman and a mother, would stoop for money. He gave her the money and commanded her to leave, though he blackmailed her by threatening to reveal to Bob what she did if Bob ever attempts to resign. Mary took the money, but swore vengeance on Scrooge, saying that one day she make sure that Scrooge would see "a true mirror" of himself.

Visit from Marley

Marley, fed up with being trapped in purgatory, pleads for mercy and swears repentance. Though his cry is heard, he is forced to wear heavy chains, each link representing a life lost due to his actions. He is told by spirits that in order for his penance to be payed and his soul redeemed, he must redeem Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley sees this as an impossible task, but agrees to try.

On Earth, Scrooge is angry at the return of the Christmas holiday, writing a letter of complaint about the carolers and well-wishers. He muses to Cratchit about the hypocrisy of Christmas, asking why one day must be good and all else bad instead of one day bad and all else good. When Fred offers for the last time an invitation to Christmas dinner, urging him to see it as Jesus Christ's birthday party if he so wishes, Scrooge again declines and mocks the idea of Jesus Christ. Scrooge allows Cratchit to leave 15 minutes early, then heads home himself. On the way, a couple of men ask if he would like to donate to the impoverished, to which Scrooge replies that they should all just die.

Upon returning to his home, Scrooge sees a carriage drawn by two horses left out in the snow in front of his home. With the horses reminding him of his childhood pet and feeling a sense of pity for the two creatures, Scrooge drapes a blanket over them. In actuality, this carriage was a test by the spirits to see if he was even worth the attempt at redemption, and he passed.

Scrooge approaches his doorstep, and sees Marley's face replacing his door knocker. Startled, Scrooge makes his way inside, where Marley's ghost materializes before him. Scrooge demands that Marley leave, but Marley instead shows him the aftermath of one of their factory fires, where Scrooge is forced to witness the injuries and deaths caused by his greed and negligence. Marley informs Scrooge that he will be haunted by three spirits, who seek to redeem him. Scrooge welcomes their visits, not out of a desire to reform, but to prove to them that he is irredeemable. Marley leaves to wait back in purgatory, and the first spirit goes to meet with Scrooge.

Ghost of Christmas Past

As Scrooge is expecting the first ghost, he hears a bell ring and follows it to his window, where he sees Ulysses, bell still around its neck, waiting for him. Scrooge is enchanted and softened by the sight of his old companion, but then assumes that it is the spirit Marley told him about, and throws it out the window. It is then that the Ghost of Christmas Past arrives, bearing the appearance of Scrooge's late father, and tormenting him with the memories of abuse and the death of the rat.

The Ghost then takes him back to his old schoolhouse and takes the appearance of Ali Baba, the icon of hope that Scrooge read about in his childhood. The Ghost takes Scrooge to the schoolhouse, and upon seeing the schoolmaster again, Scrooge grabs Ali Baba's hatchet and attempts to murder him. However, as they are simply spirits, they do not exist in that time or place, and Scrooge falls through him. Scrooge watches as the schoolmaster tries to abuse him, then realizes that the day he is witnessing is the day Lottie saved him. Lottie arrives and liberated Scrooge, and he witnesses for the first time his sister stand up to the schoolmaster. Scrooge admits that he was emotionally distant afterwards.

The Ghost then transforms into a coal miner, and shows Scrooge one of the accidents in his coal mines. Scrooge admits that he tried not to think about the horses that died, but never stopped to think about the people. Scrooge is forced to watch the mine collapse and kill many workers before the Ghost transports him to the textile factory he flipped, taking the form of a dapper businessman, and shows Scrooge the result of his greed.

The Ghost then shows him visions of what his life would have been if he had stayed with Elizabeth, showing him as a happy husband and father. Scrooge wishes that things would have been different as the Ghost returns him home, telling him that the next spirit is on their way.

Ghost of Christmas Present

While Scrooge is still reluctant to the thought of his redemption, and even tries to fake kindness, believing that it may be all he needs to save himself from damnation, he waits for the next ghost. The Ghost of Christmas present arrives, taking the form of his late sister Lottie. She takes Scrooge to the Cratchit household, where Bob and Mary slave through the night to make homemade Christmas presents for Tim and their daughter. It is then that Scrooge learns that Mary lied about where she got the money for Tim's operation, telling Bob that it came from a wealthy cousin in America. Bob began to catch on, but fearing what Scrooge will do, Mary continues to lie and tells Bob that she sold jewelry for it. At Christmas dinner, the mere mention of Scrooge's name ruins the evening, and Bob announces that he plans on handing in his resignation. Scrooge tells the Ghost to tell Mary that he will not follow through on his blackmail, but he again reminds him that they do not exist there, though Mary does briefly see Scrooge in her home and demands that he leave.

The Ghost then brings Scrooge to a church, where a yearly memorial is being held for the people who died in the coal mine collapse. Scrooge is told that, despite being responsible for the deaths, only one person in the church actively hated him: a boy who was injured and lost his father and brothers, who goes to urinate on Marley's grave every Christmas.

As the Ghost of Christmas Present fades away, Scrooge admits that, if he could go back, he would take measures to prevent any loss of life, and that he regrets not telling his sister what she meant to him when she was alive. He still insists, however, that he is no worse than any other wealthy, powerful man. The Ghost warns Scrooge that the next spirit is the least forgiving, and the one who will ultimately judge Scrooge's soul. She tells him to go wait inside the church for the final ghost's arrival.

Ghost of Christmas Future

Scrooge enters the church, which is now empty and decrepit. He is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, who appears as a man with his mouth sewn shut. The Ghost takes Scrooge to his office, where Bob Cratchit is writing his letter of resignation, when suddenly he is informed of an accident involving Tiny Tim. Scrooge is forced to watch as Tim falls through thin ice while skating on a frozen lake. Bob fishes Tim out of the freezing water, but the boy dies shortly afterward. Scrooge begs the Ghost to let Tim live, but the Ghost ignores him and instead transports Scrooge to his home, where he sees himself dead in his bed.

The Ghost transports Scrooge to a graveyard, where Scrooge sees his tombstone next to Marley's, and the boy from the mine urinating on them both. Scrooge, however, is more distraught by the sight of Tim's grave, which the Cratchit family is visiting. Marley appears one last time and asks Scrooge if he is ready for redemption. To Marley's surprise, however, Scrooge claims that he rejects redemption, because he deserves all that awaits him in the future. He then says that all he wants is the spirits to ensure that Tim lives. The spirits see that Scrooge values another's life more than his own, and accept his soul as redeemed. Marley is allowed to rest, and Scrooge is brought back to present Christmas Day.

Christmas Day

Overjoyed to have been given a second chance, Scrooge runs through the streets until he slips on some ice. The woman putting gravel on the ice apologizes, and Scrooge forgives her, encouraged to see someone helping others with no thought of reward. He borrows the gravel and puts it on the lake so the ice will melt, and no children will be tempted to go skate on it and potentially break through. He then goes to see Cratchit, who now knows what Scrooge did to Mary and tells him to leave. Scrooge accepts Cratchit's anger, wishes him luck in his new job, and gives him 300 pounds. Cratchit, baffled, accepts the money.

When Mary shows Scrooge out, she thanks him for the money, but says it will not buy him forgiveness. Scrooge says he knows that he cannot earn her forgiveness, nor does he deserve it, but promises he will try to be the best person he can be from that day forward. He then heads down the street, finally smiling and wishing the crowds a Merry Christmas.

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