We can see that ‘A Christmas Carol’ must be the most popular Christmas story of all time because books, films, plays and television programs have been made about it. It was written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century when two thirds of children were completely unschooled and almost half of all London funerals were for children under ten. Dickens was very interested in education and the poor at the time. He pitied the poor and also feared their potential for social destructiveness, as ‘ignorance’ and ‘want’ affected them tremendously.
Dickens cleverly uses starving children as a device to show immediate symbolism of the impoverished people of the time. Being a very positive man, Charles Dickens shows that by giving education we can prevent violence, poverty and the ills associated with this. He shows this by explaining to Scrooge that he can make a change to the world, by helping the poor and exerting joy to the people around him, but unless he changes his present actions there will be desolation, “Doom, unless the writing be erased”.
By showing the reader this, we learn a very important lesson and we feel wiser after reading the book. Because it ends with great happiness this has a satisfying sensation on the reader. This message is very cleverly presented because it will always be a universal problem throughout the world and although it was written in the 19th century it has a very important modern idea as well. People are able to think about and relate to the concepts shown in the book and this is why people still read it.
It can also make people want to act in the way that Scrooge acts at the end of the book, thinking more about people less fortunate than ourselves. Because of this significant moral, people will keep wanting to make films and plays about the book to try and make people in the world more thoughtful and charitable towards others. The plot and structure of the book is very easy to understand and follow. First we see the beginning, evil side of Scrooge, then the three spirits arrive one after another, and the ending shows an opposite good side of Scrooge which has redeveloped once the spirits have been.
The theme is Christmas, which is a time in the year of great excitement, and people enjoy the ideas of love, happiness and atmosphere that Dickens displays in the book, “merry bells”. These images bring familiar memories to the reader’s mind, which makes it a delight to read, as many of us carry out the same family traditions given throughout the book. It has a very supernatural story line, which is extremely interesting to all readers. People have a willingness to believe the unexpected magical incidents in A Christmas Carol because they want good to overcome evil, as it does at the end of the book.
It seems that Dickens’ idea developed from a fairy tale, because the images he portrays correspond with many traditional fairy tales, as it ends ‘happily ever after’. This is like a magic transformation when Scrooge changes his ogre like characteristics to sharing his love with all the people around him. We respond to the book at all ages because it has aspects which both adults, “I can’t afford to make idle people merry”, and children, “ding, dong, bell” can relate to.
There is an initial humour in the book because we can hardly believe the affect that the Spirits have on Scrooge, this is another reason why children may thoroughly enjoy this book. Dickens shows many different emotive sections in the book and we are able to understand these impressions with deep feeling. As we read the book and switch between happiness, misery, fear and anger, it makes us remember the book with more complex meaning. We see Scrooge moving from togetherness and happiness with his business partner, and only friend, Jacob Marley, to loneliness when Marley dies.
There is a lot of dramatic suspense in this part of the book because the reader anticipates the actions that Scrooge will take to regain a content life. Even though Dickens is in danger of overdoing the presentation of his characters, they are recognisable because he uses the characters with habitual aspects of human life. For example he exaggerates the poverty of the Cratchits, but we can relate to their amazement of the Christmas goose, “long expected”, because Christmas is always a very expensive time of the year. The human and spiritual characters are not bland, e.
g. the third spirit who’s “capacious breast was bare”. With stimulating characters, our senses become more enthusiastic and this makes the book very interesting and giving a vivid portrayal furthers the reader’s appreciation of the book. Dickens does not make the characters too unrealistic because he makes sure that they have two different sides to them and they do not become ridiculously overpowered with good or bad, like a ridiculous fairy tale. Scrooge has a very strong evil side, but we see his good side appearing at the end of the book.
It also seems almost impossible that the Cratchits could be so happy together when the are so poor, so Dickens shows an aggressive side to Mrs Cratchit aswell, “I’d give him a piece of my mind”. Charles Dickens uses very elaborate and detailed descriptions of the sights seen by Scrooge and the setting of the book to create the right atmosphere, “nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek”. The lists of visible objects and huge amounts of food at ‘Fezziwig’s party’, again, emphasise the luxurious delights available, “mince pies, and plenty of beer”.