A Christmas Carol is a book written by the eminent author Charles Dickens. It was published on December 19th 1843, a time when Christmas spirit was absent in the people. It is argued that the book redefined the importance of Christmas spirit. It is set in a time of perpetual poverty and abiding social unfairness. The recent Industrial revolution has taken a heavy toll on those less fortunate who have now been displaced.
Scrooge, a prosperous man, represents the higher class, who exhibits the typical characteristics of the higher class, greedy and selfish, as we can see by the use of such phrases ‘surplus population’. Scrooge must cease to be what he has become and provide more for those in need, failure to do so will result in death. Due to the fact that the story is called ‘A Christmas Carol’, the book’s chapters are instead called staves. From the introduction of Scrooge, we can summarily tell that he is a scurrilous and wicked man, ‘Oh! But he was a tight fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!
’, and ‘a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner’. Charles Dickens clearly wants you to have a clear and powerful image of Scrooge reiterating Scrooge’s awful personality, but also to perhaps open the eyes of those similar to Scrooge (the upper class). Also notice the use of exclamation marks at the end of sentences, Dickens did this to emphasis his descriptions. Dickens uses temperature and weather as a continuous metaphor for Scrooge’s character, ‘no warmth could warm, no wintery weather chills him.
No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty’. Further on, he uses adjectives such as ‘cold, bleak, biting, dingy and small’ to evoke bitterness in the character. Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you. When will you come to see me’? No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.
Even the blindmen’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts. It seemed that Scrooge lived in his own world, no one wanted anything to do with him, he is as ‘cold’ as they come. ‘Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal box in his own room’, this is both a metaphor and a description. It is a metaphor for the size of Scrooge’s heart, but also shows again how cruel he is.
All of a sudden there is a change in mood and breath of fresh air as Scrooge’s nephew appears, Dickens accomplishes this with the use of words such as ‘a cheerful voice’ and ‘he was all in a glow, his face was ruddy and handsome: his eyes sparkled’. The words are completely opposite to what we have been reading, and there is a huge contrast and a clash of feeling to emphasis what Scrooge is like. ‘A merry Christmas! God save you! ’ is how Scrooge is greeted by his nephew, but to such a joyful greeting Scrooge famously replies ‘Bah Humbug’.
This shows us how flinty Scrooge’s heart is to ruin such warmth with negativity and disdain. ‘What right do you have to be merry? What reason do you have to be merry? You’re poor enough’, this indicates that everything has a price in Scrooge’s life and that money means everything. When Scrooge’s nephew leaves, ‘two portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold’ walk in. The reason for their presence is to ask for money which shall be given to charity. ‘a slight provision for the poor and destitute’. Scrooge replies ‘I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and i can’t afford to make idle people merry’.
The gentlemen goes on to ask for a donation stating that the poor would rather die than work in the poorhouses, Scrooge replies ‘ If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population’. This is a very horrid quote and really shows Scrooge in all his colours and is a good example to mark the arrival of the ghosts. That night, a ghost arrives (Marley’s ghost). Marley was also like Scrooge, a bitter man in his time and due to his manner has been condemned to an eternity of wandering ‘through the world, and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!’.
The ghost continues to tell Scrooge of his ways and how he must change, or he too shall suffer what the Ghost has. ‘Hear me! ’ ‘My time is nearly gone. ’ ‘I will,’ said Scrooge. ‘But don’t be hard upon me! Don’t be flowery, Jacob! Pray! ’ These are signs of Scrooge in fear. When the Ghost has departed, Scrooge is in disbelief of the whole episode as he inspects his locked door. He is about curse when he opens his mouth to say ‘Humbug’, but he stops mid word and decides to say nothing. That was the last time he said ‘Humbug’ in the novella which are signs of a changed man already.