A character who appears briefly in Charles Dickens
' "A Christmas Carol
Jacob Marley is Ebenezer Scrooge's dead former business parter. As cheap, greedy and bitter as Scrooge is, we are led to believe that Marley was worse. He appears as an apparition to Scrooge seven years to the day, after his death. His purpose in being there is twofold. First, Marley now bears for eternity, great lengths of heavy chain that he has forged by his misanthropy. He appears with them, as a warning to Scrooge. Second, Marley is a prelude to the subsequent spirits which will haunt Scrooge later in the evening. Sort of an MC for the show that follows.
It's funny how the different stage and screen productions of "A Christmas Carol" choose to represent Marley. Since he is a ghost, it is tempting to get into the whole special effects rat's-nest, blue-screening, after effects, smoke machines and so on. Of course, on stage, there is a limit to what can be done. Just so long as no one tries to make him float in the air using a harness and pulleys, there's just no need for that.
As far as I'm concerned, the best Jacob Marley was played by Disney's Goofy. Gawrsh!