A Christmas Carol
Differences Between “A Christmas Carol Novel” And “1951 Film Adaptation Scrooge”
Throughout the 1951 adaptation Scrooge, and the novel by Charles Dickens on which it is based, A Christmas Carol, several themes such as the supernatural and poverty are explored through the character of Scrooge. However, the film version makes room for many new aspects of his personality through actions not described in the book and differences to the original text. This essay will explore how the some of the film’s choices to add or extend scenes impacts the viewer’s perception of Scrooge. In the second stave Scrooge is visited by the first ghost, the Ghost of Christmas past. In the novel Dickens chooses to display four moments; the place where Scrooge grew up, the place in which he was an apprentice, people dancing happily during Christmas time and a husband telling his wife about seeing Scrooge sat alone.
Meanwhile in the movie, Scrooge’s memory of his apprenticeship is much longer as he is seen working, changing job and buying up the company. This longer view of his past not only establishes more clearly that he was poor as he discusses his poverty with his fiancé and shows that he became rich by buying the company, but it also allows for dialogues which reveal more about Scrooge’s past. For example, Scrooge states that “There is more in life than money” and he says that “Money isn’t everything”. This could be the director’s choice as to balance for the lack of figurative language present in the description that allows the reader to gain remarks about Scrooge’s character. The choice to show the same thought through two different ways at different times highlight how strongly he believed in this. The vision of Scrooge’s past may have also been prolonged to show how his character changed, going from poor to rich and obsessed about money and finally to humble and charitable again.
The film adaptation of the novel also shows his transition from poor to rich when he works as an apprentice; his employer affirms “Control the cashbox and you’ll control the world,” which Scrooge neither agrees nor denies. This proves significance as it is exactly what Scrooge displays through his actions in the present and it allows the viewer to see a possible that his boss may have been an influence in making him greedy which the reader doesn’t get in the book. Another important insight to Scrooge’s past is when Scrooge expresses that he thinks that the world is going to be a cruel place. This is ironic as in the present Scrooge contributes to making the world unpleasant through his melancholy, anger and greed and the thought may have been added to show the change. Towards the end of the novel and the film adaptation, Scrooge is brought to his grave by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, however in the film adaptation Scrooge lies down on grave in worry and fear, trying to comprehend whether what he sees is reality. This wasn’t described in the book and may just have been the choice of the director as there are few other actions suitable for that moment. However, it adds to the change in Scrooge as he is taking the possible future very seriously and is devastated and scared of what could happen. Adding to this, Scrooge repeats “Tell me I’m not already dead” and “I’m not the man I was” several times to show that he fears the future and has changed through the visits from the ghost. This could have been to replace the descriptions of fearful facial expressions which were presented in the book.
In the end of the film adaptation Scrooge wakes up after talking in his sleep. This showed that he was just dreaming, meanwhile in the book the narrator points out that he sees his bedposts but it isn’t explicit whether he woke up from a dream. However, the choice to make it a dream may still have been based on the narrative in the book which allows for open interpretation. In addition, the film had to present either that the ghosts were real or that it was a dream and the idea of him dreaming may have been easier to understand for the viewer. Another addition in the movie is the character of a maid. This creates contrast with Scrooge’s previous self as the maid is paid and he tried to live as cheaply as possible, eating cheap food, using little light, etc. The maid’s character is used to make the change in Scrooge more explicit as when he wakes up and she says it’s Christmas Day he is overly enthusiastic and happy about it. This makes her shocked and she asks “Are you quite yourself sir?” to which he replies “I don’t think so […] I hope not” in a jovial tone which shows yet again that he doesn’t want to be who he was before. The maid also screams as she is so confused by his actions and Scrooge points out that he is not mad and gives her money. This immediately allows the reader to see that he is not greedy anymore and feels sorry for the poor as he gives money after asking how much he pays her. Through writing, in the novel there is a gradual change through his interactions and dialogues with the ghost, however in the movie the addition there might have been the addition of the maid to allow for the opportunity of his actions to clearly demonstrate that he had changed and was cheerful and gleeful when he smiles for the first time in the movie.
In conclusion, the film prologues and adds several scenes to improve clarity and to give additional insights to Scrooge’s life, such as his transition to richness, his despair when he sees his grave and the change to his merry behaviour in the end. This may have also been to balance for the descriptions of his behaviour, emotions and surroundings which reveal the details on Scrooge’s change in the books.
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.
Analysis of Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol vs. Wilkie Collins’, The Moonstone
Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol (1843) and Wilkie Collins’s novel The Moonstone (1868), both show different messages about their author’s view of ethics. The Victorian era was an era when the ethical view of the world – and the people in it –was undergoing a period of massive change. Both works come from an England near the height of its powers, and the seat of a massive and powerful empire, yet at home, the vast riches of that empire was not spread fairly. Instead, it was a time of massive differences in wealth, with the rich gaining massive fortunes, and the poor forced to work in factories or as servants in homes, and face horrible misfortune and suffering.
Victorian England is not unlike the world today, where billions of people are poor, while the richest 1% own more than half of all the money and resources. Because of this major problem, which is present now and then, it is necessary to return to Victorian literature to describe how best to respond to these problems today. Both A Christmas Carol and The Moonstone show the different ethical ideas, especially about how the rich should treat the poor. However, from the ethics of how the rich should treat the poor, both in ideal and aspirational ethics, these novels differ in their presentation of the value of the so-called ‘golden rule’, and the idealized view in The Moonstone is more effective.
The Ethics of Wealth in Literature
How should the wealthy treat the poor? Such ideas have weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of authors of all generations, but tend to be more important during times of greater socioeconomic separation, that is, when there is greater separation between the classes. Stories, explains McCall-Smith (2009), “express a moral point of view,” so for authors to behave ethically, they are bound to present a good and proper example for their readers (McCall-Smith 1). So, during times of vast wealth disparity, authors have a duty to highlight these separations, and also to present the ethical argument that it best for the rich to treat the poor in a charitable and generous way.
There are two different ways to go about making this ethical argument. The first, ideal perspective, might argue that a work of art is best when it simply explains to the reader what an ethical behavior consists of, and shows its characters behaving that way. The ideal ethical perspective is instructive, as the reader might take away a lesson in how best to behave from the behaviors shown by the characters in a given story. By contrast, the aspirational ethical perspective presents a path to ethics, and builds its view of proper behavior to the end of a journey of self-reflection and understanding.
The most proper type of ethical behavior to rule the relations between rich and poor the golden rule, or the idea that people should treat others as they would prefer to be treated themselves. This idea is so common that it is almost a law, and is shared between all world religions and has a firm source in many societies. This rule is also defined as an order to treat people “only as [they] consent to being treated in the same situation” (Gensler 2). This rule is ethically sound and builds a strong foundation from which to consider Victorian literature because of the connection between huge inequality in wealth at the time and the failure of rich people to follow this rule. The golden rule “demands consistency,” and requires a “fit” between the actions taken by people and their “desires about how [they] would wish to be treated in the same situation” (Gensler 2).
Both A Christmas Carol and The Moonstone tell similar lessons about the ethics of wealth. Both stories explain that mere station in life, as defined by the amount of money that people have in the bank, is not enough to allow them to treat poorer people unfairly or harshly, even if they can afford to do so. The key difference, then, between these two works of Victorian literature, lies in the way that these authors – Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins – choose to tell this lesson to their readers.
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol is full of examples of its wealthy main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, behaving in a way that is not only greedy, but cruel, especially toward the workers and associates who he has kept over the years. A series of clear examples are in evidence early in the book, long before Scrooge has met with the three ghosts, who show him his past, present, and future, and he is able to get his redemption. Importantly, the view that the work presents is not one which argues that Scrooge himself is a singular villain, instead, it can be argued that Scrooge is most notable because he is a stand-in for the whole of rich Victorian society, a man whose wealth has caused him to be angry, bitter, and consumed with greed, and has lost his way in life. His failure to relate to those who are poorer than him – who holds power over due to his wealth – has caused him to be callous about their fates, welfare, and even their lives. While Scrooge does not behave unethically in a traditional sense — he has broken no laws — his behavior toward his fellow man can be considered deeply cold and shameful, and lacking of any major sense of ethical reciprocity.
An early example comes when Scrooge is visited by men collecting for the poor, who request that Scrooge make “some slight provision for the poor and destitute,” for people who “suffer greatly” during the cold months of winter (Dickens 14). To this request, Scrooge answers, “are there no prisons?” While Scrooge also asks if there are ‘workhouses’, and if welfare laws are also “in effect,” his mention of prisons – which are supported, much to his anger, with his taxes – shows that Scrooge feels no for the poor (Dickens 14). He would rather see the poor in cages than donate any of his money to increase their happiness. “Those who are off badly must go there,” he says, and shows that he cannot imagine himself in the situation that the poor suffer in, and as a result views them as people who deserve to be treated like criminals (Dickens 14).
A similar view is presented later in the conversation, when the men argue – when they describe the prisons, workhouses, and other facilities where the poor go – that “many can’t go there, and many would rather die” (Dickens 15). To this, Scrooge says, “if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population” (Dickens 15). This line shows both Scrooge’s lack of ethical reciprocity, and how Dickens shows Scrooge to reflect the views of an era: Scrooge is rich, but he is also a rich man who views those who are in a different, more difficult, situation as being not even human, and deserving of death if they don’t find government-provided services to be to their liking. This view goes to the core of his personality, and shows that he is really unable to sympathize with people who do not share his privileges in life.
The core of A Christmas Carol is Scrooge’s journey to redemption, where he is literally able to re-live his life and learn lessons about the perspectives of others, especially how he will be remembered after he dies. However, this is where the work’s ethical viewpoint becomes complicated, and seems to show that Scrooge has only chosen to become generous because he fears that he will be forgotten after he dies, and that his funeral will be attended by local businessmen, but only “if a lunch is provided” (Dickens 67). Scrooge has learned little about reciprocity, aside from the fact that he will not be remembered if he does not begin acting more kindly toward others. In this way, though the novel presents an aspirational view of ethics, it fails to live up to the ideals of these aspirations. Though it begins by perfectly showing the perspective of a wealthy man without sympathy, who could be a stand-in for any other, the journey that Scrooge takes is unrelatable, and so the novel teaches no lessons except that sympathy might come from fear of a bad reputation after death.
Wilkie Collins’s novel The Moonstone is one of the first true examples of the mystery genre, but its perspective on ethics and the ‘golden rule’, shows a view of ethics which goes far beyond A Christmas Carol. The key difference between the works is that there is no little change in the perspectives that the characters hold about class, or about how the rich should treat the poor. Instead, the author, Wilkie Collins, presents an idealized version of class relations throughout his story, through the personality and depth that he provides to its poor servant characters. Through the work’s journey – which describes the efforts by many different characters to find out who has stolen a large diamond, and to get the diamond back – a wide range of characters are given a great deal to do, say, and think but these do not only include the wealthy characters surrounding Rachel, the original owner of the diamond. By giving the novel’s secondary, working-class and poor characters a great deal of humanity, and a rich inner life, the work implies that the poor are worthy of respect.
The work goes further than that, though. The Moonstone argues that the work that the poor perform is just as notable, and worthy of praise and respect, as any other type of work. In its descriptions of Gabriel Betteredge, the steward of the Verinder house, the work shows that his position – while working-class – is just as important as any other type of work, such as work in politics. On Rachel’s birthday, Betteredge explains that the celebration he organizes followed “the plan adopted by the Queen in opening Parliament – namely, the plan of saying much the same regularly every year” (Collins 92). By drawing this connection between Betteridge’s mundane work in the home and the important work done in government, and arguing that each is equally based in boring ritual, Collins’ novel shows that all people, rich or poor, powerful or not, are all the same, and just as deserving of respect and admiration for hard work.
The novel has other examples which are more direct in their arguments, such as when Limping Lucy Yolland, angry that the servant Rosanna Spearman was disrespected by Franklin Blake, says, “the day is not far off when the poor will rise against the rich. I pray Heaven they may begin with him” (Collins 276). However, this view is limited to Lucy and does not feature largely in the rest of the work.
To this end, it can be argued that The Moonstone represents not an aspirational view of ethical reciprocity, but rather an idealized sort, one which is not told through the characters’ experiences, but instead by the author’s choice to give them an equal amount of status in the text. By treating all the characters throughout this mystery as equals, Collins shows that all are worthy of attention, everyone has a story to tell, and implies by this equal weight to masters and servants, that everyone should treat everyone else with respect. In this way, Collins’s novel matches the idealized version of ethics it presents by its structure and presentation.
I believe that the idealized version of ethical reciprocity shown in The Moonstone is the more effective way to get this point across than the aspirational ethics highlighted in A Christmas Carol. Because Dickens’ novel takes such a long and complicated route to get Scrooge to treat others with respect, there are many different reasons why he might have chosen to do so, with the character’s self-interest, and wish to not be remembered poorly (or not at all) at the top of the list.
However, in The Moonstone, the characters are shown to be equals by the equal status given to their inner lives and feelings. Because the reader learns to sympathize with both the masters and the servants, they are shown that people of all walks of life are equally deserving of respect. I believe that in this way, during times of extreme disparities in wealth, when the wealthy may be inclined to view themselves as superior to the poor – both in Victorian England and now – Collins’s novel’s idealized picture of ethics teaches a lesson that everyone would be wise to learn. The Moonstone teaches this ethical lesson in a better way because it fills all its characters, even the poor characters, with an inner life that the reader can easily identify and sympathize with.
The Transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge
A Christmas Carol is an allegory, written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, is one of the most compelling Christmas themed books known today. It was written during the industrial revolution in England. It was a dirty era and the plight of the poor was desperate. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, cold-hearted owner of a London counting-house, continues his stingy, greedy ways on Christmas Eve. Later on that evening, Scrooge receives a chilling visitation from the ghost of his dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit him during the next three nights. Scrooge has one last chance of redemption, he can either embrace the joy of Christmas or end up like his fellow dead business partner, according to the spirits. Dickens’ novella is not a religious telling of the story of Christmas, but it does talk about the ability of a person to transform one’s life by changing the way they treat their neighbor.
At the start of the book, Scrooge is portrayed as an unfeeling, cruel character which is shown when he tells the charity workers that if the poor would rather die than go to a workhouse, “then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population”. Scrooge represents the Victorian rich who neglect the poor and think only of their own well-being. Pathetic fallacy is used to represent Scrooge’s change: In Stave One, the weather is described as being “Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold”. This represents how cold and iron-hearted Scrooge was at the beginning of the book. Repetition is another key technique used to dramatically describe scrooge’s character. A word repeated many times in the first few paragraphs is “dead” with this an instant negative mood is brought upon the reader. Dickens creates the sense that Scrooge was isolated, “Secret and self-contained, and as solitary as an oyster.” Scrooge would not even let a single penny slip through his hand, regardless of how wealthy he was. A miserly and mean character who only cares about money.
Described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!”In the final Stave, Scrooge has become a lot more emotional and charitable. You can see this as he uses more affectionate terms such as “my dear” and “my love” and as he says that “the time before him was his own, to make amends in!” when he wakes up. The spirits have really played a massive role in transforming his character. In Stave Five, the weather is “clear, bright, jovial” with “Golden sunlight”. This change in weather represents how Scrooge has become a lot kinder and more generous. This again, is an example of pathetic fallacy. Scrooge is a changed man. Here is a word repeated often in the last stave “chuckle”. This is a cheerful and enthusiastic word that fits in with scrooge’s new change of character. It makes the reader feel that scrooge is now a humorous person, which he never was before. He repents for all his previous sins by giving Bob a raise, atoning for his previous bitterness toward his clerk, he apologizes to the portly gentleman he meets on the street and pledges lavish contributions for his charity, where in Stave One he threw him out of his counting-house.
Scrooge also happily attends Fred’s party.In conclusion, the moral behind Christmas carol is that in a social divided community it is important to treat everyone with equality. This is shown through scrooge’s character, and how he treats people somewhat below him in the social hierarchy as a man quite high in society and how he treats them after he has been visited by the spirits. The moral is still of relevance to today’s world, although there is a large time difference between now and then there still are social divides throughout society. Dickens uses a variety of techniques to make this book have a great impact on the reader.
A Christmas Carol is closely linked with Dickens personal life. Dickens was poor and his parents spent time in workhouses. This book was written during the industrial revolution, the working world, especially a city like London, was becoming more mechanised, it seems that the goods of a man were slipping through the cracks as all the men were too busy working. This novella was written to remind all these men to focus on the right things, not get carried away and it’s never too late to change. [754 words]
A Christmas Carol as a Moral Maxim
Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is set in Victorian London and tells the story of the transformation of a wicked, miserly Scrooge into a benevolent humanitarian via supernatural intervention. The invited reading persuades readers to accept that despite the gap between rich and poor, inspired individuals are capable of changing society, social change is desired by the powers of the supernatural realm, and small steps can be achieved by wealthy individuals who fulfill their duty of kindness to the less fortunate. The writer’s purpose is stated in the words of Marley’s ghost: “ Mankind was my business” and implemented by allowing the reader to share the rigorous re-education of Scrooge. Dickens achieves his purpose of positioning readers to favour social change through the use of powerful stereotypical representations of real world and supernatural characters which compel readers to criticise and reflect on the wrongness of attitudes, values and beliefs of a selfish Victorian society.
The reader initially rejects the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, whose greed-driven values are contrasted with Bob Cratchit , a poor, underpaid, kindly clerk devoted to his family. Dickens emphasises that money lust has made Scrooge a miserable, toxic character who spreads misery. Yet his observations grow, and his viewpoint evolves as his relationship with the Cratchits grows: “They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being waterproof; their clothes were scanty; and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside of pawnbroker’s. But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another’s company, and contented with the time.” The reader disapproves of his coldheartedness and sympathises with the people he mistreats: the Cratchits, his nephew, Fred, and Belle, his former fiancée who recognised Scrooge had made “a golden idol”(p65) of money.
The reader’s greatest sympathies are directed towards the Cratchit family, serving Dicken’s purpose of promoting the welfare of the working class. Tiny Tim, condemned to poverty and physical misery as well, is an important device in Scrooge’s transformation. That Scrooge has ignored this pitiful little boy is central to his failure as a human being. Befriending the child, signifies the awakening of his human spirit to the power of kindness. Dickens implies in Tiny Tim’s words “God bless us, everyone!” that the purpose of life lies in feeling happy about helping the needy. Through his relationship with the Cratchit family, Scrooge learns about the joy of giving, the value of kindness and generosity, and the pleasures of living as a member of a loving family. The portrayal of Tiny Tim’s death affects Scrooge deeply, positioning the reader to love children, and want to help an underprivileged handicapped child. Tim calls the reader to accept Christian teachings when he says, “I want people to see me because I am a cripple…”
Through Dickens’ detailed descriptions of supernatural characters, and his evocative emotional use of shocking imagery, the reader shares Scrooge’s deeply emotional journey which teaches him compassion. Scrooge believes in ghosts, and the chained, doomed ghost of Marley introduces the reader to fear of the supernatural, of death and of the afterlife. Fear inspires the reader to share the Christian belief that the price of today’s mistakes is eternal wandering in a void of misery after death. “You are fettered,” said Scrooge, trembling. “Tell me why?” “I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” Along with Scrooge, the reader accepts this as truth. With supernatural teachers, the Ghosts of Christmas, Scrooge’s ignorance is destroyed through a painful moral education process which the reader shares. The shock of experiencing shame and guilt at his unkind treatment of others, followed by the fear of eternal damnation that Scrooge faces are life-changing. Scrooge faces the ugly eternal consequences of his wrongdoings. Through sharing Scrooge’s experience, the reader also fears punishment in the afterlife, and like Scrooge, resolves to live a better life.
Minor characters are contrasted against Scrooge, and also provides glimpses of the life and values of the poor class. Ragged, unhappy, hungry children are advertisements sending an anti poverty message to the reader. The inclusion of humble miner’s hut and the lonely lighthouse expand the reader’s awareness of the extent of both poverty and the kindly human spirit of the poor class. The benevolent employer, Fezziwig is contrasted with the mean spirited Scrooge, showing the reader that some people are already practising compassion . The parade of morally good characters impresses that society is struggling to help the poor, and this change needs to be boosted by more helping hands.
Dickens’ moral message is repeated for emphasis in each stage, by each spirit of Christmas, and through every character and situation in the novella. When Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, comments that “offenses carry their own punishments” he is supporting Dickens’s Christian moral viewpoint, further appealing to the reader to be reasonable and understand the importance of helping out the needy . He is repeating the message of Marley’s ghost, who teaches that the faults of life will be paid for in death. The personal effort required to change is rewarded when Scrooge summons his courage to knock on Fred’s door. Finally, Scrooge is deeply grateful for the help he received to change his ways, shown when he says “I shall love this doorknocker as long as I live”. This positions the reader to share Scrooge’s happiness and believe that change is achievable and desirable, and to make the effort.
Finally, the reader walks the road of moral redemption with Scrooge, learning with him that “the common welfare.. charity mercy, forebearance and benevolence” p49 are every man’s duty. The various range of character representations and their experiences support Scrooge’s transformation, persuading the reader to accept the need for social change, and to follow Scrooge’s example. His successful transformation offers the reader a role model which affirms the power of the individual to correct the social injustice caused by greed and uncontrolled capitalism.
A Reflection on A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol Reflection
A Christmas Carol was about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge who is a businessman that is greedy, rude, unhappy, and completely focused on making profits. Scrooge has a series of ghosts appear to him that show him his ways and change his outlook on life. When he wakes up on Christmas morning, he is a changed man and is much happier than he was before.
When the play starts out, Scrooge’s nephew comes to visit him and invite him to have dinner at his house with his wife for Christmas, as he does every year. Scrooge rudely declines his offer, as he does every year, and dismisses him by saying humbug every time he says Merry Christmas. Right off the bat, we see that Scrooge is not a very nice person and that he doesn’t like Christmas. We also see that he is a very business focused man who doesn’t have any interest in things that don’t give him value. Later in the play, we see that Scrooge’s wife left him because he only saw things as a gain or loss. She says that although he might be sad for a short time, he will move on very quickly and just write it off as a loss. We also learn that he is a very wealthy person, but chooses to be very stingy with his money on several occasions. He sees children in the street, who are dressed in rags and are visibly hungry, begging for money and instead of having pity on them and giving them some money, he scares them off. Additionally, Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s sole employee, has a family of 6 that he needs to feed and obviously works very hard for Scrooge. However, Scrooge does not pay him much and treats him very poorly. We really see the true perspective of Scrooge come out when the charity workers come to ask for money in order to give people a meal and clothes on Christmas. Scrooge is very rude to the charity workers and tells them that he already gives to the soup kitchen and the prison. When the charity workers tell him that some people can’t make it to either of those, Scrooge says then let them die and decrease the surplus population. Needless to say, Scrooge had a pretty bleak outlook on life.
One night after returning from work, Scrooge receives a visit from the ghost of his old business partner that died 10 years ago. He tells Scrooge how he has to wear chains and continuously travel throughout the world because he lived such a bad life. He warns Scrooge that the same will happen to him if he doesn’t change. This is the start of the change in Scrooge’s attitude and perspective on the world. Scrooge receives visits from three ghosts that same night, the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present, and the ghost of Christmas future. The ghost of Christmas past takes him back to his childhood up through when his wife left him and we see that Scrooge wasn’t always like he is now. He used to be happy and joyful, especially when he was with his wife. Scrooge sees how happy he used to be and how he transformed into the person he is now and he is tormented by his mistakes, which makes him full of regret, although he won’t admit it yet. The ghost of Christmas present shows him the dinner party that Scrooge declined to go to. Scrooge is having a great time playing games, but then is hurt when he is the butt of a joke about his demeanor. Here, Scrooge starts to see how people perceive him and it makes him sad. Scrooge also sees how much fun life can be again. The ghost of Christmas future shows Scrooge his funeral and the interactions that go on between people after the funeral. Scrooge is shocked and saddened because no one cared about him, and most people were actually happy when he died. After the ghost leaves, Scrooge pledges to be a new man and to make up for his mistakes.
Scrooge wakes up the next morning on Christmas and rejoices that he’s still alive and has time to make up for his mistakes. The demeanor of Scrooge has done a complete 180 from the beginning of the play. At the beginning of the play, Scrooge had a very mean, somber look on his face, while at the end of the play he couldn’t stop smiling and was dancing and skipping around. Additionally, Scrooge became extremely generous and outgoing, completely opposite of the beginning of the play. Scrooge buys the biggest bird in the town to give to his employee, Bob Cratchit, and his family because the ghost of Christmas present showed him the Cratchit family on Christmas and they had a very tiny goose for the whole family. Additionally, when Bob came into work the next day, he was late and thought that Scrooge would yell at him, like he usually does. Instead of yelling at him, Scrooge tell Bob that he’s going to raise his salary to help him and his family and then gives him the rest of the day off. When Scrooge saw the hungry children and beggars, he decided to give them some money, which was completely against what he did in the beginning of the play. He also found the two charity workers that had asked him for money at the beginning of the year. After apologizing profusely for his actions and how rude he was, he whispered in one of the charity workers ears and clearly told them that he wanted to make a big donation. Lastly, Scrooge decided to go to his nephew’s house for dinner and make him part of his life.
Scrooge changed completely from being a self-centered person that was only focused on his business to a generous outgoing person that wanted to help everyone. The development of Scrooge’s character over the course of the play and the changes that we see teach a couple valuable life lessons. The first is that life is not just about making money. As Scrooge finds out, there is much more to life than making money and there is a lot of joy in it. The second is that you should be generous and take care of the poor because they are just as important as the wealthy people in a society. This lesson comes out when Scrooge says that they should let the poor people die and decrease the surplus population at the beginning of the play. By the end of the play, Scrooge is donating a large sum of money to help the poor and make sure that they don’t die. Lastly, Scrooge shows the audience that you should live your life to the fullest every day because your time on earth is precious and you don’t want to be full of regrets like Scrooge was.
The transformation of Scrooge as highlighted in “A christmas Carol”
When a man’s name is synonymous with greed and misery, most readers would not associate him with the shining image of a hero. The hero’s journey is a classic literary pattern in which a character goes on an adventure, faces challenges, and comes through a changed person. It was first used during Greco-Roman times in Homer’s Odyssey but has endured through the years to be utilized in countless forms of fiction. A Christmas Carol details the events of one night in which Ebeneezer Scrooge transitions from an immensely dislikable old miser to a generous, joyous friend to many. Setting aside the individual steps, a hero’s journey is set in both a normal world and a special world, as Scrooge has London and the world of time with the spirits. This is the first of many instances that Dickens’ timeless anti-hero aligns with the most popular method of crafting an iconic fictional figure. As a result of his thorough transformation, Charles Dickens portrays Scrooge as an archetype of the hero’s journey.
The beginning of the story represents Scrooge’s departure, the first step in a hero’s journey. Scrooge begins his path to heroism upon his first interaction with the ghost of Jacob Marley, “I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate” (Dickens). The beginning of every hero’s journey is the normalcy, the status quo. However, they will eventually be interrupted by some supernatural aid, giving them a call to action. For Scrooge, this comes in the form of Marley’s ghost, warning him to change his ways and of the incoming three spirits. Next, Scrooge’s reaction to Marley’s warning: “`You don’t believe in me,’ observed the Ghost. `I don’t.’ said Scrooge… `Why do you doubt your senses?’ `Because,’ said Scrooge, `a little thing affects them” (Dickens). Scrooge, following the next step on the path, refuses the call to action. When Jacob Marley first approaches him, Scrooge is unreceptive and wishes to have nothing to do with spirits. By this exposition, Scrooge kept on the journey’s path, through the entirety of the first stave.
Scrooge’s journey through time with the three spirits contains his trials, the bulk of a hero’s journey. In his literary criticism, Marc Goldstein analyzes the lessons Scrooge learns within the trials, “Christmas Past represents memory, especially suppressed memory. As the second spirit departs, Scrooge understands that he has shut out the human race because he… was excluded as a child… Bob becomes a symbol of a world that Scrooge can enter if he will allow himself to do so” (Goldstein). The many challenges Scrooge confronts in his journey with the ghosts and subsequent lessons he learns come into play later in the story, but in the present, follow the hero’s journey structure. His final trial occurs at the end of the third visit: “…read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge… ‘No, Spirit! Oh no, no” (Dickens)! Here marks the lowest point in Scrooge’s circle, often called the revelation, ordeal, or crisis. He even follows the literal criteria of death and rebirth by seeing his own grave. The reader, in this moment, feels the culmination of Scrooge’s emotional swings including, shock, and anguish. Through the greater section of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge sticks with the circle, tackling his obstacles in the special world.
Scrooge’s return to London strongly resembles that of a classic hero in a standard hero’s journey. He demonstrates the primary step of a return in a grand proclamation, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year… I will not shut out the lessons that they [Spirits] teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone” (Dickens)! The moment following the reveal of the grave is the moment of Scrooge’s transformation. He swiftly goes from a cruel miser to a visibly changed man, displaying that the lessons he learned would be put to quick use. This section could also be known as the treasure or reward; changing would be Scrooge’s ultimate prize. On that same token is one of the story’s final lines: “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” (Dickens). For the reader, this is the sentence of triumph, everything that the book has been building towards. In the hero’s journey, it is the moment of atonement, where they take what they have acquired and return to normalcy, often improving something they left behind. Upon his return to the normal world, Scrooge begins to right the wrongs he made over the many years, finishing the circle by changing as a person and returning to his normal life.
Once more, Scrooge’s complete change of character and distinct adventure through time make him a more than serviceable example of the hero’s journey. Scrooge begins his hero’s journey in normalcy but is interrupted by his supernatural guardian, Marley, in a grand call to action. He continues the arc by facing many of the stories of his past, present, and future that he does not wish to see, coming through them a stronger man. Scrooge completes the circle by leaving his supernatural world and returning to the regular one to atone for his mistakes and become a better man in his normal life. What makes Scrooge so unique in classifying him as a hero is how purely awful of a person he was at the beginning of the story, but the fact that Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, and Odysseus are not that way is perhaps why families are still enjoying A Christmas Carol to this day.
The Presentation of Rossetti’s Methods and Concerns in ‘A Christmas Carol’
‘A Christmas Carol’ by Christina Rossetti is a devotional poem that has been set to music many times, most famously by Gustav Holst in 1906, and remains a choral favourite today. It is centred around the birth of Jesus Christ, as told from the perspective of a speaker who although is excluded from this biblical scene by both time and status, feels deeply connected to it.
An indication of the tone and content of the poem, as well as Rossetti’s aspirations for it, can be found in the title ‘A Christmas Carol’. This is because the title essentially invites readers to view the poem as a potential song, as carols are popular hymns usually sung as a way of providing enjoyment during the holiday season. However, this poem defies the stereotype of a joyous carol by providing a particularly morose and gloomy setting, that can be found in the opening line itself. The reference to the winter as ‘bleak’ is repeated throughout the first and second stanza, and this creates an atmosphere of hopelessness that is typical of Rossetti’s poetry. This experience of desolation is then intensified through Rossetti’s usage of multiple layers of imagery. For example, tactile imagery is present in the phrase ‘Frosty wind’, whereas auditory imagery can be found through Rossetti’s usage of assonance (‘moan’/ ‘stone’; ‘snow’ / ‘ago’), which allows reader to hear the moaning of the wind. Rossetti sustains the semantic field of coldness by repeating the phrase ‘snow on snow’, which could be an enactment of the gradual buildup of snowflakes during the winter, thus creating an image of how the speaker is being enveloped by the cold. Furthermore, the natural elements are depicted as frigid and immovable (‘Earth stood hard as iron, / Water like a stone;’), which paints the environment to be a hostile and unforgiving one.
By setting the poem in an unforgiving environment, Rossetti effectively illustrates how Christians perceive the state of the world before the birth of Jesus Christ, as they believe that without him there would be no hope of salvation or eternal life. The phrase ‘Our God’ not only serves to draw the reader’s attention to the main theme of the poem, it universalizes the condition of Christian suffering as well. Rossetti has a tendency to create a sense of grandeur in her devotional poems, and this is seen in ‘A Christmas Carol’ through the grand images of God that can be found (‘Heaven cannot hold Him / Nor earth sustain’). This is further sustained by the usage of hyperbole (‘Heaven and earth shall flee away’), and the antithesis in the line clearly indicates that the birth of Jesus Christ is a large-scale event. Yet God, despite his infinite power, is presented as a humble being in the poem. For example, it is repeatedly stated that the least of material needs is sufficient for Him, through phrases such as ‘A stable-place sufficed’ and ‘Enough for Him’. The mention of the stable place reminds the reader of the harsh conditions in which Jesus Christ was born, and the allusion to the nativity scene continues throughout the poem. Rossetti constantly mingles both God’s humility with His grandness, which creates an effect of augmenting both of these contrasting aspects. For example, the ‘angels’ are mentioned in close proximity with the ‘ox and ass and camel’ in the third stanza, thus presenting the idea of how God is willing to stoop down for the good of mankind. Interestingly, the angels Cherubim and Seraphim are present in many of Rossetti’s devotional poems, such as The Convent Threshold. In this poem, they are depicted as worshipping God ‘night and day’, and the internal rhyme depicts an image of God being surrounded by a heavenly choir, which serves to again cement the idea of God as an almighty being.
Naturally, a reader would expect the persona to emulate God by also practicing humility, yet the final stanza paints a rather ambiguous picture as to the true attitude of the persona. The persona can be read as a humble person, as he or she acknowledges that he or she is poor, and of a lower status compared to the ‘shepherd’ and the ‘Wise Man’ (a reference to the Magi). Christian humility is a notable quality that is present in the persona of most of Rossetti’s devotional poems, such as in The Lowest Place. Hence, the final stanza can be interpreted as a sincere tribute, and this is evidenced by the usage of a dash (‘I would do my part, – ), as the dash could represent the persona’s heightened emotions. This view is supported by critic Dinah Roe, who notes that Rossetti often uses dashes as a musical device as they visually express a drawing out of emotion, a reaching out, or a ‘something almost being said’. Alternatively, it can be said that through the final stanza, the persona is effectively shifting the spotlight of the poem to him or herself. This is because every line in the last stanza (with the exception of the last line) contains the pronoun ‘I’, thus it can be said that the entire stanza has been pervaded with the persona’s sense of self. Additionally, the cumulative effect in which the gifts are presented invokes anticipation in the nature of the final gift, with readers possibly viewing it as the greatest of them all. It is therefore significant that the final gift presented is the gift from the persona, as it indicates that the persona perceives his or her own gift to be the most superior. This is supported by the use of a trochaic foot followed by a catalectic foot for the final line of the poem, as it draws the reader’s attention to the persona’s gift. Therefore, it can be argued that the persona is spiritually egotistical, which is a quality that is implicit in the persona of many of Rossetti’s devotional poems.
Another feature of Rossetti’s poems is that of the juxtaposition between the roles of men and women. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is permeated with a sense of masculine authority, which is enforced particularly through the usage of male pronouns when referring to God (‘When He comes to reign’). Moreover, the shepherds who proffer lambs in the Bible, as well as the three Wise Men (who offer wisdom and riches) are male, which displays how power lies with the masculine sex in both spiritual and earthly realms. This is an idea that can be obtained through the XAXAXBXB rhyme scheme, as masculine rhymes are used throughout the poem (‘moan’ / ‘stone’; ‘snow’ / ‘ago’; ‘day’ / ‘hay’; ‘there’ / ‘air’; ‘bliss’ / ‘kiss’; ‘am /’ lamb’; ‘part / heart’). Conversely, it can be said that the poem highlights the abilities of women, by detailing the gifts women specifically have to offer through the presentation of the Virgin Mary. Despite being a poor woman and a virgin (‘maiden bliss’), Mary has accomplished accomplished the miraculous task of giving birth to the Saviour of man without any male assistance, whilst providing nourishment and warmth to the baby (and by extension thawing the formerly frozen world), with the exclusively female gifts of milk and a mother’s kiss (‘Worshipped the Beloved / With a kiss’). The persona accurately observes that these gifts are available from ‘only His mother’, and the reference to ‘A breastful of milk’ evokes an image of a suckling child to a mother’s heart. This idea of the exclusivity of female ability is sustained by the preceding lines ‘Angels and archangels / May have gathered there’, as the word ‘May’ shows that even the worship of divine entities is inferior compared to a mother’s love. According to Dinah Roe, the persona realises that the female heart (and by extension, a woman’s love) is a natural as well as a supernatural gift, capable of transcending the material, and here perhaps, time itself.
Overall, Rossetti presents to us her depiction of the Nativity of Jesus through her own distinctive style and voice. The way in which Rossetti inserts her personas directly into the narrative allows a more intimate and unique experience, a method which she has utilised in her other poems such as Good Friday. In conclusion, Christina Rossetti’s devotional poems not only touch upon the subject of divinity but also upon the roles of different genders and worshippers. As such, A Christmas Carol remains a common hymn for the season, for both the spirituality and lyricism found between its lines.
The ghosts of Christmas as illustrated in “A christmas carol”
Much of Charles Dickens’ representation of morality in his most famous of Christmas stories, A Christmas Carol, is derived from “the wisdom of our ancestors.” (1) From the beginning of his narrative Dickens explains his usage of the phrase “dead as a doornail,” in relation to Marley, as trusting in the “wisdom of our ancestors,” even if it were not the simile he himself would have invented. He continues to carefully craft his story in attribute to traditional culture.
Christmastime, as a setting, stands for the temporary breakdown of restraints felt within a normal life in a Dickens society. Scrooge’s nephew describes Christmastime as:
…the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when
men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up
hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really
were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of
creatures bound on other journeys….though it has never put a
scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me
good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! (6-7)
Indeed the fragmentation and restoration of a set of values is the theme of A Christmas Carol- a story set not in chapters, but sung in staves. The characterization of a story told in song is in itself a return to ancestral and traditional values. One remembers the well-known opening “I sing of warfare and a man at war,” (ln. 1) from Virgil’s Aeneid. The poems by Ancient Roman writers, such as Virgil and Ovid, speak to a culture’s history but perhaps most importantly to teach a lesson in morals. By adopting this medium Dickens pays homage to his ancient predecessors, and also to the art of Christmas carols in themselves (as the title suggests).
Before the twentieth century one of the only means of widespread education was through the Christian Church. And through Dickens’ characterizations of church officials as often being corrupt, it can be assumed that Dickens probably did not like the tainted information churchgoers were receiving. However Christmas carols maintain their integrity no matter who sings them. Their message is clear and their words unaltered, save for children’s common mistakes (going ‘waffling’ as opposed to ‘wassailing’). Principally what Dickens’ novel does is take the eroding moralistic traditions of the past and deliver them intact to the common man.
His many characters allegorize the traditional values Dickens is concerned with in the past, present and future. Ebenezer Scrooge is perhaps the most allegorical among them. Albeit in crisscross order, we see Scrooge’s progression and depression throughout his time as a schoolboy into his elderly, miserly years. His first vision is of himself is as a terribly lonely child at Christmas, trying to keep himself company with the characters from books.
The first spirit, that of Christmas Past, is himself a young child and an old man all at once; and the luminous glowing of his head speaks for the importance of the human mind. This first ghost represents memory and its ability to tie all of one’s life together. Indeed the fluid movement of time throughout the story suggests that in terms of humanity it is not the “when” that is important; it is only the “what” that one should concern himself with.
The second spirit, that of Christmas Present, exemplifies the concerns one should ideally have in association with Christmas: goodwill, generosity, love and celebration, to start. The food “heaped on the floor to form a kind of throne,” (57) aids the spirit in evoking thoughts of prosperity and merriment. Similarly the moral theme of A Christmas Carol has little to do with the solemnity of a religious occasion (although the sway of organized Christianity is present, in the tolling of the church bells to mark the hours, for instance), but mostly in praising the abundance of joy, which have the capability of sharing with one another. In essence Dickens’ Christmas is not about self-restraint and religious piety. It is a time for sharing one’s riches, be they on a scale of poverty or one of wealth- be they monetary or spiritual.
Here Scrooge begins to realize what is perhaps already apparent to the reader: to celebrate by feasting is an extremely enjoyable experience, but only if one shares that feast with others. The Cratchit family is able to demonstrate the ability to derive great joy from having little by sharing it with loved ones, in opposition to the very little joy Scrooge derives from plenty because of his solitude. This visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present also highlights the importance of teaching that joy to the next generations to come.
In literature the presence of children embodies the natural human response to innocence within a loving environment, or one lacking in love. The children in the story at hand are no different as they serve to greatly focus the course of the book. Chiefly this focus is achieved through the pathetic character of Tiny Tim. His endearing faith and spirit in the face of deathly illness is one of the reasons A Christmas Carol has maintained its extreme popularity through the centuries. Tiny Tim correctly highlights the connection between himself and Jesus Christ when he tells his father:
…he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was
a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon
Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.
Growing up in an environment of monetary comfort but little love, Scrooge ages into a cold-hearted miser. Yet growing up in a world of much love and little money, the youngest Cratchit possesses the kindest soul in the story.
In contrast to the spiritual light radiating from Tiny Tim’s character are the “devilish”-looking creatures: the boy called Ignorance and the girl called Want. “They are Man’s” (86) children, as they are a product of the neglect of social responsibility. Ignorance and Want are explained by the second spirit to be humanity’s “doom” if ignored.
The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas yet to come, carries with him a grim tint to the story. He represents the fate of Scrooge (i.e. greater humanity) if poverty goes on unaltered by those who have the power to change the conditions. As Scrooge begins to understand that a desolate and perverted future is to be his own fate, the fear of death and imminent reckoning causes him to connect his new lessons and memories into an emotional landscape where not only can he relate with the common man’s suffering, but he also cares outright as a humanitarian. As it is earlier noted, Scrooge is able to see other people as if “…they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” (6)
Dickens comments on 19th Century Britain’s economic corruption by picturing the world of the counting house. Yet he goes on to visualize a restructuring of selfish society, by embracing the most basic human morals of love. The society Dickens suggests is one of a kind of voluntary socialism. As Scrooge learns that all men are men regardless of their station, the reader is lead to envision each of themselves as responsible for the happiness or suffering of others.
What we have here is the suggestion that all men have the same capability for joy or sadness no matter what their natural abilities or resources are. This message is carried to the reader through a collection of ghosts, yet they are not at all tied to the definition of ‘supernatural’. Each ghost standing for past, present, future, memory, generosity or responsibility, carries a piece of the whole moral that Dickens lays out. What Dickens creates in A Christmas Carol is a representation of the most poignant wealth humans possess: first the ability to change, and second the capacity for brotherhood and communion. In essence what Dickens creates is an allegory of love.
A Study of the Personality of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ Book, The Christmas Carol
Have you ever tried stepping up, making a change in your own life? Everyone is scared of taking chances and making differences in their lives. Scrooge, the main character of Charles Dickenss novel, The Christmas Carol, is no different. Scrooge is an old man who does not celebrate the Christmas season like everybody else. He is harsh, rude, and makes it very clear that he does not like Christmas. Throughout the novella, Scrooge is visited by a total of three spirits in one night. They all have a different effect on him. The three spirits in A Christmas Carol embody the major steps in Scrooges transformation the recollections, both good and bad, of memory, the awakening of senses and sensitivity, and the awareness of death.
The Ghost of Christmas Past helps Scrooges transformation by reminding him of good and bad memories from his youth. This apparition comes to Scrooge and shows him where his pain is coming from and the exact time in his life when he turned his main focus to the importance of money. The Spirit was like a child; yet not so like a child as like an old man. Its hair was white as with age, although the face had not whitened. This demonstrates that the Ghost is showing him not only the memories from his childhood, but new and young ones as well. The first place it takes him is the boarding school his father sent him to as a child. Scrooges lip [was] trembling because he was all alone, with no friends or father to turn to. The Ghost of Christmas Past takes him to his old boss Christmas party and this visit shows Scrooge that although the Fezziwigs did not have much money, they were still having a good time. Scrooge starts to realize that it does not matter if it cost a fortune, but it is the happiness [Fezziwig] gives. The Ghost of Christmas past also shows him how rude he was to the Christmas caroler. This saddens Scrooge and he regrets his behavior because he would of [liked] to have given him something. His second regret is being impolite to Bob Crachet, denying him the opportunity to come in and get warm. The Spirit is trying to get Scrooge to realize how wrong his behavior is so that he will change. The Ghost of Christmas Past, tries to show him more but Scrooge cannot handle it and tells him to remove [him] from this place.
The Ghost of Christmas Present makes Scrooge sensitive to his lifestyle and how he affects the lives of others he comes in contact with. He takes Scrooge to see for himself how other people act and speak of him. All the people went flocking down the streets in their best clothes and with their gayest faces to the church and chapel. They came from everywhere. When two people started fighting in the streets, they said that it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas day. This shows that everyone appreciates Christmas day and Scrooge is starting to appreciate it a little more with the appearance of each Ghost. The Spirit also shows him the deep love the Cratchets share despite their financial situation. Scrooge sees how desperate the Cratchets are to help for their son, Tiny Tim. Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, was concerned if Tiny Tim [would] live. Scrooge continues to grow more sensitive towards others and their feelings as he visits with the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost reveals to Scrooge two wretched, miserable children who scare him by their appearance. The children, Ignorance and Want, show another example of the fact that not everyone is well off financially and is also a warning that the future is harmful. When the Ghost takes Scrooge to his nephews house, Scrooge listens and hears that he is sorry for him because he is the one who suffers for all of his ill whims.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come reveals to Scrooge many disheartening images of his future. The Spirit responds to Scrooges questions with unnerving silence and simply motions him to follow. Scrooge fears this Ghost the most; however, he is aware of its promise is to do [him] good. Scrooge hopes to live to be another man from what [he] was. This shows Scrooges desire to change, to become a better person and to live the rest of his life doing good for others. They listen as some business men casually and jokingly discuss someones death. Scrooge is upset and wants to know if there is any person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this mans death. And, if so, he wants the ghost to show [him] that person. The next stop is a dingy pawnshop, where there are some of the dead mans personal belongings. It is obvious there is relief all across town that this stubborn man has finally died. Scrooge is appalled and begs the Ghost to reveal the identity of the dead man. Finally, the last place the Spirit takes him is the Churchyard. The Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which is stood and upon seeing his name on the tombstone, Scrooge cries that he is not the man [he] was. Scrooge says he will live in the Past, Present, and the Future.
The three Spirits in A Christmas Carol embody the major steps in Scrooges transformation: the recollections (good and bad) of memory, the awakening of senses and sensitivity, and the awareness of death. During the visits from the three ghosts, Scrooge learns many important lessons. He sees how poorly he interacts with people and the negative effect that has on them. He becomes frightened to learn that he will live a sad and lonely life by himself. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future help Scrooge realize his faults and teach him how to change to be a better man. After their visits, it is said of Scrooge that he [knows] how to keep Christmas well. Changing ones life is a very difficult task for anyone to do, and doing so will have a major impact on those around them.