Scrooge’s clock quickly goes through the hours. He ponders whether Marley’s ghost had been real. When the bell tolls one, lights appear in his room and his bed curtains are pulled aside by another’s hand.
The spirit acknowledges it is the one Marley had spoken of, here for Scrooge's salvation. It tells him he is the Ghost of Christmas Past—specifically Scrooge’s past. The spirit grabs Scrooge’s arm and leads him to the window, explaining he will not fall. The spirit takes him to a place where Scrooge grew up.
Scrooge is delighted to see everything. The spirit tells him that these are the shadows of the past, and the people cannot see them. Scrooge sees his boyhood friends pass by, and then he sees his younger self at the school. Scrooge weeps. Young Scrooge is reading, and as he does so, the book characters jump out of the book and walk around the school. Scrooge happily names each character.
Scrooge suddenly regrets not giving something to the caroling boy earlier.
The ghost shows him another Christmas where his little sister comes to take him home. His father is much kinder and has sent for him. The ghost mentions that as frail as Fran was, she had a big heart. She dies as a young woman, leaving behind her only child.
The ghost then takes Scrooge to his first apprenticeship. Scrooge is glad to see his former mentor Fezziwig and fellow apprentice Dick Wilkins. Scrooge and the spirit watch the preparations for the party and the party itself. Scrooge gets so caught up in the scene that he forgets about the spirit entirely until the party is over.
Overhearing the praise young Ebenezer and Dick Wilkins are giving their boss, the spirit asks Scrooge if the man deserved such praise. He didn’t spend that much money on the party. Scrooge indignantly tells the spirit that it wasn’t the money spent, but Fezziwig’s ability to make people happy. He suddenly wishes he could talk to his clerk.
Another scene follows where a woman is accusing young Scrooge of replacing her with another golden idol. Scrooge tells her that the world condemns a man that seeks wealth, and yet it is so hard on the poor. The woman gently chides him for fearing the world too much. He is a different person from the man who proposed to her. The person he is now would have never courted a girl with no means. Belle releases him from the engagement.
Scrooge begs the spirit to show him no more and to take him home. The spirit instead shows him Belle married to another man and with many children about her. The husband tells Belle that he saw Scrooge at his counting house, even though his business partner was dying.
Scrooge demands the spirit take him back home. He grabs the spirit and finds himself back in his own bed. He falls asleep in exhaustion.