Sunday, January 11, 2009

OLD MAN MARLEY: The Ghost With Drag Bags

One of the most famous images from English literature is that of Marley's Ghost dragging chians to which is attached a long line of money boxes. Having lived his life fetterd to concerns of buisness and money, indifferent to human suffering, Marley is now weighted down for eternity by symbols of the life he lived.

In "A Southern Christmas Carol," Old Man Marley ran a cotton gin, and so when his ghost appeares he is chained to a long line of drag bags.

(Above: Nick Mannix as Old Man Marley in the 2005 production of "A Southern Christmas Carol.)

Drag bags (in the photo below) were used by people picking cottons. The bags--made of burlap or some similiarly rugged fabric--were worn over one's shoulder and were long enough to drag on the ground for several yards behind one. This allowed a field hand to fill it with many pounds of cotton. The bags, of course, grew increasingly heavy as filled, and the made job of hand picking cotton (which grows on a thorny bush) even more unpleasant.

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