Scrooge in A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is the story of Scrooge, a rich man who runs a counting house in Victorian England. Scrooge was very greedy, unkind, and lonely. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who show Scrooge his past, present, and future to convince him to change as a person. The ghosts are described in great detail and full of symbolism. The appearance of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future reflect thematic messages Dickens had about mankind.
The Ghost of Christmas Past’s constantly changing appearance and bright light represent the qualities of memory. The constantly changing appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past represents how memories of the past can change. On Christmas Eve, The Ghost of Christmas Past visits Scrooge to show him his past. Scrooge notices the Ghost’s appearance is constantly changing. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness. (Dickens) Similar to memory, the Ghost of Christmas Past is always changing. People remember events in their past differently. Memories can be remembered clearly or be locked away. The bright light coming from the Ghost of Christmas Past’s head represents how memories can reveal a truth. After the Ghost reveals Scrooge’s past, Scrooge tries to extinguish the light from the Ghost’s head using the Ghost’s cap. Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and bright, and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. (Dickens) By viewing his past, Scrooge is shown the light or truth about how greed destroyed his life. Dickens’s message is that reflecting on our memories can reveal a truth about our life. This truth can be used to improve our lives or be ignored, like Scrooge chose to by trying to extinguish the ghost’s light. The Ghost of Christmas Past’s appearance represents qualities of memory including how memories of the past can change and how memories can reveal a truth.
The two children under the Ghost of Christmas Present’s robe, Ignorance and Want, represent two qualities that destroy a person and society. On Christmas Eve, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge two hideous children hiding under his robe. Scrooge asks the Ghosts who the children belong to. The Ghost proceeds to describe them. ‘They are Man’s’, said the Spirit, looking down upon them. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see written which is Doom(Dickens). The two children, Ignorance and Want, are physical representations of human sins. By describing Ignorance with Doom written on his forehead, Dickens is warning the reader on how ignorance can destroy a person. Dickens portrays Ignorance and Want as children to provide commentary on how his own society’s ignorance and want affects children. Dickens is arguing that people in Victorian England are ignorant of how work and living conditions affect children due to their obsession with money. Dickens describes the appearance of Ignorance and Want to show how these qualities affect mankind. They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. (Dickens) Ignorance and Want are described as hideous and evil. The children show what people become after they are transformed by ignorance and want. People become hideous, greedy monsters. The two children, Ignorance and Want, represent two human sins that can destroy a person and society.
The hidden appearance and terrifying presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents how the future is mysterious and frightening. On Christmas Eve, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come visits Scrooge to show him his future. The Ghost’s appearance is hidden by a black cloak. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand . (Dickens) The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the embodiment of the future. Since the appearance of the ghost is unknown, Dickens’s message is that the future is mysterious. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come also has a terrifying presence. Scrooge is very frightened by the Ghost. Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. (Dickens) Scrooge is afraid of the Ghost because he is worried about the future it will show him. Dickens’s message is that the future is terrifying. Since the future is so mysterious, people are afraid about what will happen in the future. The hidden appearance and terrifying presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come represents how the future is mysterious and frightening.
The appearance of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future reflect thematic messages Dickens had about mankind. The Ghost of Christmas Past’s appearance represents the qualities of memory. The two children under the Ghost of Christmas Present’s robe, Ignorance and Want, represent two qualities that destroy a person and society. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’s appearance represents qualities of the future. The Ghosts are not just characters that help Scrooge change. By analyzing the Ghosts’ appearances, the reader can find Dickens’s ideas and views on the past, present, future, and his own society.
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 1990.
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