A Characteristic Of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ Novel a Christmas Carol
Somewhere in the dirty city of Victorian London, Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly main character of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, sits in the ice-cold air of his counting house in the company of his less-than-well-paid clerk, Bob Cratchit, thinking about the next way to make a quick profit while Bob struggles to put food on the table for his large family.
Scrooge is a cold man who believes that Christmas is just a waste of time and, more importantly, money. He believes that the good cheer of Christmas is humbug. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who was just as greedy as Scrooge when he was alive. Marley warns Scrooge that he will spend eternity lugging around heavy chains that his greed has forged if he continues to go about life selfishly. Scrooge is then visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. They show Scrooge the wrong in his actions of putting pennies above people. He is afraid of the picture of his life and promises to change and keep Christmas in his heart all year long. Scrooge awakes on Christmas morning a changed man. He becomes jolly, generous, and overall the man he promised the ghosts he would become, and as mentioned in the book, “…it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” (Dickens, 80). Scrooge’s speech and actions change as the story goes on. At the beginning, his speech and actions are selfish and mean. In the middle, his speech and actions show signs of him changing, and at the end, his speech and actions show that he has transformed into a jolly, charitable man.l
Scrooge’s speech and actions at the beginning of the story are selfish and cruel. Early in the story, Scrooge is visited at his counting house by his young nephew, Fred. Fred was there to wish Scrooge a merry Christmas, but Scrooge just shooes him away. He states, “Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ‘em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”” (14)
This extensively displays that Scrooge’s speech and actions at the beginning of the book are selfish and cruel because not only does he denounce his nephew’s good intentions, but he also goes on to condemn Christmas. Because of this, Fred goes on to explain that despite Christmas has never put a penny in his pocket, it has done him good. This is a lesson Scrooge must learn if he wants to change. Almost immediately after Fred leaves, Scrooge is visited by two portly gentlemen. They ask him if he would like to donate to the poor. He replies, ““Are there no prisons?… And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?”” (16). The two men tell him that the poor would rather die than go to these places, to which Scrooge heartlessly replies, “”If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”” (16). These two quotes display that Scrooge’s speech and actions at the beginning of the story are selfish and heartless because he basically says that the poor people should die now if they were going to die anyway. Because of behavior such as this towards the less-fortunate, Scrooge is visited by the three spirits of Christmas. The cruel speech and actions of Scrooge at the beginning of the novel set up for the arrival of Marley and the three Ghosts of Christmas.
The speech and actions of Scrooge in the middle of the story are much different from his heartless and penny-pinching speech and actions in the beginning. Scrooge’s speech and actions in the middle of the story show signs that he is changing. On Christmas day, the Ghost of Christmas Present took Scrooge to the Cratchit household. Tiny Tim, despite being in the state he is, is still cheerful. This prompts Scrooge to ask, “”Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, “tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”” (51). This indicates that Scrooge’s speech and actions in the middle of the story show signs of him changing because he’s caring about the well-being of someone other than himself. Due to this, the reader becomes aware that the Spirits are having an effect on Scrooge, and that he is starting to care about others. Later, the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to his nephew, Fred’s, party, which Scrooge was invited to. Scrooge gets absorbed in the activities, and is in a cheerful mood that he had not had in a long time. The book says,
“There might have been twenty people there, young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge; for, wholly forgetting, in the interest he had in what was going on, that his voice made no sound in their ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, and very often guessed right, too; for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge; blunt as he took it in his head to be.
The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, and looked upon him with such favor, that he begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the guest departed. But this Spirit said could not be done.
“Here’s a new game,” said Scrooge, “One half-hour, Spirit, only one!”” (58).
This is evidence that Scrooge’s speech and actions in the middle of the story show signs that he is changing because he gets caught up in the Christmas cheer and begs the Spirit to stay a little longer. This causes Scrooge to become even more light of heart and shows that he is very close to being the man the Spirits envisioned he would be. Scrooge’s speech and actions in the middle of the story show that he has been taking the Ghosts’ teachings to heart.
Scrooge’s speech and actions in the middle of the story show that he is changing. The change he undergoes in fully reflected through his speech and actions at the end of the book. After Scrooge returns from his encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he leaps out of bed a new man, a butterfly emerged from its cacoon. He rushes to a window, where he sees a young boy. He asks,
“”Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.
“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.
“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there? Not the little prize Turkey; the big one?”
“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.
“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”
“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.
“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”
“Walk-ER!” exclaimed the boy.
“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes, and I’ll give you half a crown!”” (76-77).
This demonstrates that Scrooge’s speech and actions at the end of the book show that he has changed because earlier, being so stingy with his money, he would have never done anything so generous, when now he is practically giving it away. For that reason, it is as plain as a piece of paper to see that the Spirits have truly had an effect on Scrooge and his speech and actions. At the end of the book, full clarification of Scrooge’s transformation is given. Dickens states,
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (80).
This effectively proves that the speech and actions of Scrooge at the end of the book show he’s changed because Charles Dickens blatantly states it. Hence, Scrooge finally became the man the Ghosts envisioned him to be. In the end, Scrooge embraces the spirit of Christmas all year and his speech and actions are drastically changed from the beginning of the book.
Scrooge’s speech and actions change as the story goes on, from being cruel and greedy in the beginning, to showing signs of him changing to be a better person, to finally being selfless, kind, and joyful. I would rate this book five out of five stars. It is a classic and the story pulls you in and is stuck like glue to your hands until you reach the satisfying conclusion. I recommend this book to those who understand its symbolic meaning.
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