“A Christmas Carol” was written in 1843 in the time where Britain was dirty and the living conditions were dreadful for the poor. Many of the inhabitants came into the city from the countryside in search of work as mechanisation was beginning to reduce the number of agricultural jobs available. Some of the jobs that was available to the poor included children working as chimney sweepers. Also women and children under the age of thirteen were working in harsh workhouses. These workhouses paid them very little for many hours of work which meant the poor could not afford many different things.
In this book Charles Dickens tries to illustrate these living conditions of the poor and how the rich ‘wilfully’ ignores the fact there is such a problem; this is personified in the book by Scrooge. In the book he is trying to tell the rich that the poor should be treated with more compassion. He does this by means of writing a book because the educated people can read. To emphasise his point, he sets his story at Christmas time as it is a time of giving. “Christmas, in other words is not automatically something of perfection. That.
Perhaps, is the main point of the story – that perfect-seeming Christmases have to be created through generosity, goodwill and love. ” In ‘Christmas Carol’, Dickens uses Scrooge to give us a picture of what was the social state of society. The use of diction that Dickens uses to describe Scrooge, his environment and everything else that relates to him as cold, dark and hard. This also symbolises the hardness of life of the poor and also how they will have to live through cold winters because they cannot afford much coal to provide heating in their homes.
“Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out a generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. ” Dickens describes Scrooge as “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner. ” All the words that he had used to describe Scrooge was onomatopoeic, and even the name “Scrooge” is onomatopoeic. The word “Scrooge” makes us screw up our faces which makes us think that Scrooge must have had a very unpleasant facial figure.
“The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. ” The description of Scrooge has no reference to light which means that there is no knowledge of truth in Scrooge because the light symbolises the truth. The truth is how the rich wilfully ignore the dreadful working and living conditions of the poor. “Christmas Eve – old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.
It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal:” Scrooge spent his Christmas Eve counting his money, when other people spent their Christmas Eve preparing for the festivities the next day. It shows that Scrooge has no love for anything else but his money. This symbolises how the rich only lived around their money and did nothing to help others because they were too selfish to give away any money. There is the repetition of the words cold, and Dickens uses words like “bleak, biting weather” which emphasises how cold the weather was like outside.
For the poor, the cold weather was a big problem because they could not afford to buy that much coal which results in a bitter cold house for the whole winter. Scrooge has a clerk that works for him, but they do not have any friendship between them. This was because Scrooge always looked down on the clerk as something not worthy because he was poor. This shows how the rich viewed the poor, as people who are not worthy of living in this world. “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. ”
The way Dickens emphasises the way Scrooge does not treat his clerk in a friendly way is how he keeps his door open so that he can keep an eye on the clerk because he does not trust him to be working hard enough. “The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. ” Dickens illustrates that the working conditions of the poor were not good and although the clerk is working in an office, all the room he got was nothing but a little cell.
The clerk was only copying letters because he is not educated because he is poor, and this shows how the poor were uneducated and meant they had no choice but to live without the knowledge of knowing how to help themselves. “Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. ” The comparison between Scrooge’s fire and the clerk’s fire symbolises the comparison of the rich and the poor. It symbolises the way that the rich have a lot of money, but the poor have literally nothing that it was almost “like one coal.
” The problem can be solved because the clerk could go to the coal box and get some more coal to make his fire bigger, but Scrooge kept the coal box in his room which meant that the clerk would not be able to get to the coal. This symbolises how the rich could help and change what is happening in society but instead they decide to keep the money to themselves and wilfully ignore what is happening to the poor people living on the streets. “He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
” Scrooge’s nephew is a total contrast to Scrooge, Scrooge’s nephew is warm and handsome as for Scrooge he is a frosty cold figure. “Merry Christmas! what right have you to be merry? what reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough. ” Scrooge thinks that you must be rich to be happy and merry at Christmas but he is totally contradicting himself because he is rich but he is not a happy or merry man. The rich view Christmas as a time of having to pay bills and because all they love is money.
As a result, they think that Christmas is no time to be merry and jolly because they are losing out on money. The message that Dickens is trying to get through to the rich is that charity is the key to happiness to yourself and others. “there are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” Scrooge’s nephew is playing the role of a person who is there to tell Scrooge how he should live his life so that it is better for everyone. Dickens uses Scrooge’s nephew as a device to point out the messages that he is trying to get across to the rich people.