In ‘A Christmas Carol’, how does Dickens make the reader aware of the conditions of the poor in the 19th century? In what ways does he make his message palatable? In ‘A Christmas Carol’, Dickens makes the reader aware of the conditions of the poor in many subtle ways. ‘A Christmas Carol’ wasn’t written for a certain class, or type of person, it was written for all people of all ages, and the main message that he tries to get across is that you don’t need to be rich to be happy.
As this book was written for all people, its content could not be offensive, and that is why Dickens had to make the descriptions of the conditions subtle, this is how he made it palatable. He makes the readers aware so that they will try to help people that aren’t as well off as themselves. I also think that the fact that there are ghosts in the story serve to make it more palatable, more pleasant. Although a few times Dickens does describe the conditions directly, most of the time he does, it is done indirectly.
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Dickens doesn’t wish to offend anyone in the writing of the book, and a note of this is made in the preface. He says that he doesn’t want to “Put his readers out of humour with themselves”. Dickens is making the story more enjoyable by saying not to take it too seriously. All he’s asking is that we should try to help each other as much as we can. As a child, Dickens had a very harsh childhood, and many of the descriptions were from his own experiences. Rich businessmen such as Scrooge, who saw the workers as profit, not people, exploited poor people in the 1800’s. Hours were often very long with very little pay.
Dickens wanted to encourage the rich to help the poor and wrote the story so that you would side with the poor. He is showing you what the spirit of Christmas should be like. The charity workers visiting, Scrooges poor yet merry nephew and the appearance of the carol singers are all what the ideal Christmas should be. The story needed to be palatable so that it could be read and not taken too seriously, while at the same time making you want to do something to help those that need your help. The first implication of the bad conditions is when Dickens is describing Scrooge near the very start.
It is here that Dickens makes the remark that ‘No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle’. This is Dickens way of saying that there were homeless people living on the streets, without actually saying there were homeless people on the streets. “Are there no prisons? ” “No Union workhouses? ” Again Dickens is showing us how ignorant some rich people were in the way they didn’t put any effort into helping the poor; they just locked them away in prisons and workhouses. Anything that was related to the poor was shown in a way that made you see how hard life was for them.
Their lodgings were “Dark, the windows even darker”. The amount of dust and dirt in the air was so bad that it stained the houses. This concoction was referred to as Smog, and it helped pickpockets to succeed in their trade as their appearance and getaways would often be concealed. The living conditions were often very overcrowded with several families to one room, and a lack of healthcare made death a very common thing. Even the drinking water was contaminated with sewage, which did little to help ease the situation of the poor.
The rich were aware of these terrible conditions, but surprisingly did little or nothing to improve them. The Cratchitts, who were a poor family, but a happy one, endured these conditions. Even though the Cratchitts were so poor that they could only afford a very small Christmas pudding, even though it was very small, nobody said a thing about that. They were so happy just to have a pudding that nothing else mattered. For them a pudding was an extremely rare thing to have, and they were all extremely grateful for it. They were so poor that they couldn’t afford new clothes that fitted them.
Peters clothes were so small that his “collars nearly choked him”. A sign that the collars were too tight around the neck, but the Cratchitts couldn’t do anything about it. So in conclusion to the question, Scrooge made the readers aware of the conditions of the poor indirectly. He never says that there were poor people lining the street, he always describes them as vulnerable and sympathises with them. The ghosts in the story serve to make the story more palatable. As ghosts are fictitious, it helps to make the story less believable, and more enjoyable.
This shows fortune, prosperity, and success. In contrast with the poverty of Brick Lane (where Jolil lives), the streets are covered with dirt, it has a different cultural atmosphere, whereas in Liverpool Street you’d see big business men, going out to earn their days work. Yet again we can contrast the businessmen with Jolil’s father, who is only a mere tailor, and whose wages are very little. The novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ tells the story of a fictional character named Ebeneezer Scrooge; Scrooge’s character is full of everlasting meanness and avarice.
He is extremely poor in terms of morals, love, obedience, gratitude and values. This implies that Scrooge was rather ignorant towards other people, and had no means of respect for them. The first extract shows Dickens remarkable technique to describe a character in the story, as he describes Scrooge in as many bad ways as possible, each word making the character seem terrible. Dickens describes Scrooge as being ‘tight-fisted’. This is an ideal word to match Scrooges personality. Being a rich and wealthy man in terms of finance, Scrooge prefers to live in a dark, unpleasant, dilapidated home.
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This implies he is ‘tight-fisted’ as he doesn’t take pleasure in spending money on luxuries, and chooses to live rough even though he has the potential to live like a sovereign. Moreover, Scrooge is so parsimonious that he only gives his clerk fifteen shillings per week to support his whole family. Furthermore, when charity collectors approach Scrooge, he doesn’t give the slightest donation to them, and instead warns them to leave. This portrays the lack of gratitude and morals Scrooge has. Scrooge has a fun-loving nephew named Fred. Fred is a very happy, high-spirited gentleman.
He is neither rich nor poor in financial terms. Though he is poorer than Scrooge in financial terms, he is seen as a rich and wealthy man in the eyes of the public. However, Scrooge thinks that Fred is too poor to celebrate Christmas, and too poor to be happy! Whereas Scrooge, who is a rich man financially, isn’t a happy, humble, jovial person, and thinks Christmas is a ‘humbug’. Here, Dickens intention is to show Scrooges mean attitudes in depth and contrast in his style of writing, which includes lengthy descriptions, includes minute detail and intricate vocabulary that is not used commonly today.
The story ‘A Kiss Miss Carol’ tells the story of a fictional character named Mr Miah. Mr Miah has an average family consisting of his two sons, and his wife. He is financially poor, but lives in a typical average house. He finds that one trip to Bangladesh for his son, can lead his family into bankruptcy. Mr Miah is a hardworking tailor. His wages are of very low pay. He is going through a period of slave labour and is awfully disadvantaged, as he cannot speak English fluently. Although Mr Miah is poor, he doesn’t like to show people he is living in such a condition.
Mr Miah is fuming to find his son is due to act as a beggar boy in a Christmas play at school, and so refuses to let him go. He has to work hard to escape poverty within his family, and doesn’t find it appropriate if his son will expose his poverty through a Christmas play. Mr Miah has absolute control over his family; he acts like an overall dictator of his family, having monopoly control over other people’s lives. ‘You’ll do exactly as I say’ Here Mr Miah is giving more of a direct command, rather than an option to Khalil as to whether he wants to go Bangladesh or not.
The author, Farrukh Dhondy has portrayed Mr Miah in a demanding way. He has an oppressive character, yet his family is generally submissive towards his behaviour, leaving his oppression unchallenged, thereby allowing it to grow. Mr Miah is submerged into his religious, traditional, and cultural values. “He turned up in his prayer cap”. This shows Mr Miah is a respectable Muslim and still abides by the Sunnah of the Islamic religion. He is hoping to influence his children to be loyal to the Islamic religion, but this is not shared by his sons.
Scrooge and Mr Miah are similar in many ways, but they also differ from each other. Both men are hardworking and committed to their jobs, however Scrooge gets paid a vast amount of money, and only has himself to consider, whereas Mr Miah is put into slave labour, gets low wages, and has to support his whole family. Both Scrooge and Mr Miah are keen to save up their money. However, Scrooge has the potential to live like a King, and certainly never spends his money on luxuries. Mr Miah on the other hand, cannot afford to spend on luxurious items, and needs to save up as much money as possible to run his household.
Mr Miah is a respectable Muslim, and follows his religion without any doubt yet Scrooge is a Christian, but still doesn’t pursue events such as Christmas, which is seen as a ‘humbug’ to him. Both men, are undoubtedly lacking love, they feel no affection for anybody, and think they can run their family or business by dictatorship. Both men are deficient in moral values, gratitude, obedience, and kind conduct. Bob Cratchit is incredibly poor in financial terms. But in terms of obedience, gratitude, and moral values, he is extremely rich.
Bob Cratchit only receives a mere fifteen shillings per week to maintain his huge family but is always smiling despite of his status. He can barely feed his family, but it is ‘sufficient’ meaning that the food they eat is just enough to serve the whole family. Bob cannot afford to indulge in luxuries but still thanks the founder of his family feast-Mr Scrooge. Dickens uses a large amount of descriptions and he uses numerous amounts of vocabulary to describe the wonderful rich food on a Christmas day at the Cratchits home.
At one point, Dickens describes a pudding, showing how it was ‘a small pudding for a large family’, this shows how financially poor Bob Cratchit is, but no one dared say anything about the quantity of food, and this again, shows the wealth of obedience each person in the Cratchit family has. Jolil is the main character in the story ‘A Kiss Miss Carol’. He is a Bengali boy, the son of Mr Miah. He is pleased to be included in the Christmas play, but realises that his parents are not ready so support him. Obedience is Jolil’s second name. He has respect, and moral dignity as a child; he has been brought up to be a decent honest person.
However, Jolil is well disadvantaged because of the lack of freedom he is given. He respects his father by all means, never letting down anyone within his family. Mr Miah see’s Jolil as a ‘good boy’ but on the other hand, Jolil doesn’t see his father in quite the same light. In fact, he see’s his father as ‘Scrooge’. Someone of no sympathy, no love, no integrity. He see’s his father as an ignorant, oppressive man because of the lack of freedom and justice given to him, but dared never to speak of his him in this way. Mr Miah is submerged into his traditional values.
Jolil isn’t ashamed of his father, but school happens to be a different world for him. “He turned up in a prayer cap, wearing his loose white trousers and long black coat”. Jolil is reluctant for his father to come to his school because he dresses like an outcast of dad society. There appears to be a cultural difference between the young and the old, as even the other Bengali parents had moved on from their past traditions and now wear suits. This portrays Jolil’s father as old fashioned, religious and somewhat strict. Jolil was now in a desperate crisis.
He was anxious to go to the Christmas Concert, but knows his father will not allow him to leave the house. Instead, he comes up with an elaborate scheme. He planned to save up all his travel money and give up eating crisps for the week, (this shows Jolil had no luxury in pocket money) to buy his brother Khalil a ticket to the cinema, and then bribe Khalil into waiting for him after he’d finished performing the Christmas Play. At first, it seemed like a great opportunity, but then to Jolil’s unfortunate destiny, Mr Miah was now sending Khalil over to Bangladesh to sort out some family business.
This was now a colossal financial loss for Mr Miah. ‘They had to make it up’. Jolil’s family now had to pull together to produce stitched clothes in order to make up for the money spent on sending Khalil over to Bangladesh. Jolil and Bob Cratchit are similar in many ways, but they also differ from each other. Both Bob and Jolil are in a desperate financial crisis. Bob cannot afford to maintain his family, and Jolil only gets sufficient amount of pocket money, and doesn’t get to spend on luxuries. Both Jolil and Bob definitely are wealthy in terms of love, moral values, and gratitude.
Jolil doesn’t seem to like his father, but never exposes his feelings to anybody, whereas Bob knows that Scrooge is stingy, but never dares to tell him. Jolil is a young boy who goes to school, whereas Bob is a mature man, trying to support his family. Miss Ingram is a young, kind, loving teacher who has organised the Christmas Play. All the children respect her. Jolil describes her to us in lines 130-138, once again telling us how his father wouldn’t like her as she is quite untidy and wears jeans, even though this is now seen as trendy. Miss Ingram seems very supportive of Jolil although she isn’t aware of the circumstances at home.
She is very easy-going, encouraging and helpful to Jolil and finds him ‘perfect’ for the playing the role of Tiny Tim. Miss Ingram is very caring ‘What’s the matter Jolil? ‘ She notices the slight dissatisfaction on Jolils face, and questions him. Though Jolil is scared to let his anger out, he is caved in with pressure, from home, and at school. Fred is Scrooge’s nephew. He is a pleasant young man, who is always trying to cheer up his uncle. He is an outgoing, extrovert person. Dickens contrasts Fred’s cheerful greeting with Scrooges ‘Humbug’ by choice of careful dialogue. In financial terms, Fred is doing well for himself.
The Cratchit family see him as a wealthy man, but through the eyes of Scrooge, he is too poor to celebrate Christmas. Fred is so considerate that he invites Scrooge round for Christmas Dinner. ‘Come! Dine with us tomorrow’. Fred is so loving and kind-hearted, that he never gives up on his uncle. He leaves his uncles business in high spirits. Ms Ingram and Fred are similar in nearly all their ways. They are both compassionate, and concerned about other people. They are both trendy, fun-loving, outgoing people who are rich both financially, and wealthy by means of love, moral values, and gratitude.
In the novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ Dickens uses many methods of writing in detail. He makes the reader want to read on by his lengthy descriptions, wide-ranging use of terminology, and an entertaining style of writing. As when Dickens communicates he shows us an insight into the character as he uses the dialogue to show their feelings. The kind of humour, which Dickens uses, is facetious. The characters that are presented are described about their physical features first then Dickens opens the characters feelings up during the story with dialogue. Dickens uses a large amount of descriptions and he uses several amount of vocabulary.
This book was written for a particular audience in the Victorian era, which was high class, educated people. Many rich people would have read this novel and would have also been able to thoroughly understand it. I feel that Dickens uses a lot of description in his writing, and seems to pile it on a bit too much. The language is complex as it was meant for people from the eighteenth century. This book was hard to read as some of the English used is complex and hard to understand, as being a 21st century reader, most of the English used is totally different compared to 18th century English.
The long sentences and prolonged descriptions were hard to comprehend, as they were composed of some phrases, which I have not come across before. Farrukh Dhondy has a completely different writing style to Dickens. Unlike Dickens, Farrukh does not use lengthy descriptions; his text is easier to understand. Farrukh writes about real life situations, whereas Dickens has a more imaginative mind, he writes about situations which nobody has ever arised before. Then again, both writers want to get different responses from their audience.
Farrukh wants his audience to be aware of situations of the like which were faced by Jolil, and hope it can make a difference to anybody suffering the same situation, whereas Dickens wants everybody to appreciate Christmas, despite of whether they are rich or poor, as wealth doesn’t implicate money, but also gratitude, love, obedience, and moral values. Alternatively, poverty doesn’t just have financial implications. Poverty can also be shown by terms of lacking gratitude, love, obedience, and moral values.