Set in the 1840s on Christmas Eve, A Christmas Carol novella is about the transformation of the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge. A wealthy and elderly man, Scrooge is considered miserly and misanthropic. As he prepares for bed on Christmas Eve in his solitary, dark chambers, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley. Marley was almost as selfish as Scrooge, and now his spirit is being punished. He tells Scrooge that he must change his ways and warns Scrooge would be visited by three more ghosts: the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
During Victorian times there was a big gap between the rich and poor. The poor lived in poverty or were forced to work in workhouses. This was a place where people would work, sleep and eat to get very little money. Dickens is trying to make people aware of the people that were not so well off in the Victorian times and the difference between them and rich people. In the first stave, Dickens describes the character of Scrooge as a “tight fisted hand at the grindstone”. This connotes to his endurance to work hard, as using a grindstone is an independent job, this might reflect his character as being self-sufficient.
For example, when the charity collectors ask for money he replies “are there no workhouses? ” It gives an impression to the reader that Scrooge is a really greedy person with money because he only thinks of himself. His money-grabbing nature was already introduced early on in the story when Marley’s funeral is being described. Dickens describes how Scrooge “solemnised the funeral with an undoubted bargain” is used, meaning Scrooge didn’t even spend much money on his only friend’s funeral.
Despite Scrooge’s anxiety and fear that the next spirit will terrify him, Scrooge seems pleased at first to return to his childhood, ‘why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them? ‘ Then he sees himself as a child alone in the schoolroom on Christmas Eve as Scrooge ‘wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be’ it reveals that Scrooge recounts a bad memory. It is the contrast between him and the happy children outside that makes him feel sad and Scrooge appears here to feel sad for himself.
‘Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be’. Scrooge reveals that he was capable of feeling pain and suffering and did so as a child. This awakened his own conscience and he realises that the sympathy he lacked as a child he fails to give as an adult, ‘there was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something’. His soft side becomes exposed for the first time as his past experience has clearly affected him emotionally so that his lip is ‘trembling’.
His status drops as he ‘begged’ the ghost to lead him on, showing vulnerability in his personality at this stage. Scrooge watches Fezziwig, his old boss, dance and enjoy his party he recognises the joy that Fezziwig gives to his employees by kindness rather than money. As the spirit takes Scrooge on this journey Scrooge recognises that his past life has made him scared of living. Eventually he sees his past love, and recognises that he turned his back upon human passion. Scrooge is made to watch the moment when his life changed in the past and he had no hope of being happy again.
When he sees this moment that changed his life, it makes him feel regretful, he says ‘no more’ but the spirit forces him to see the happiness that he could have experienced with this woman who he loved. From this we can deduce that though Scrooge is responsible for his own unhappiness by turning his back on all the things that he could of have. The ghost takes him to Bob Cratchit’s house as Scrooge watches the simple pleasures of family life that he denied. His sympathises Tiny Tim, a cripple who will die if he is not fed.
Scrooge is moved by the sight of his clerk and his family as he asks the ghost, ‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live’, in contrast to the feelings he has for the past, where he felt sorry for himself, he finds himself sympathising with Bob Cratchit who he ignored. It’s the first time the reader see’s Scrooge’s cares about someone other than himself. It gives a feeling a hope because you would never think Scrooge would change. The ghost of the future shows Scrooge’s death. It shocks Scrooge till he is tearful and ‘cried, upon his knees’ this shows he isn’t arrogant or smug as before where he would question and probe the previous ghost.
People laughed and joked about his funeral, and they would only attend if there was food. This clearly shows Scrooge had no friends at all and people hated him to the extent people joked about his death. He realises the horror of death and pleads to the ghost he would change. Tiny Tim is also died. It is like as if it was Scrooge’s duty to save Tiny Tim to make up his meanness to Bob. Scrooge is shaken by this vision and says ‘I shall not leave its lesson’. He wakes and is joyful to find himself still alive.
His personality is much more ecstatic than before so that he ‘laughed and cried in the same breath’ which he would have never done before. A simile is used to refer back to when he was young ‘as merry as a schoolboy’ like he is starting his life in a new direction. He even says ‘I’d rather be a baby’, which has a sense of being religiously reborn from his sins. The first that he does is buying a huge turkey for the Cratchit family and then he goes to see his nephew and share their Christmas dinner. Instead of shunning people away he greets them ‘taking the old gentleman by both hands’.
This is a reoccurring image of Scrooge’s hands, instead of grabbing for money it is happiness instead. He even laughs for the first time as Dickens describes it as ‘a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh’. Dickens uses repetition in a different than before, but now instead of saying ‘good afternoon’ to make his nephew go, he repeats ‘hallo’ and chuckles repeatedly. He even says ‘hallo’ instead of ‘hello’ to show the ecstatic joy he is in. When Bob comes to the office, Scrooge plays a trick on Bob showing humour and playfulness, it says he ‘feigns’ to be mean which shows he is naturally nicer.
And he even says ‘A merry Christmas, Bob’ whereas before he would say ‘humbug’ showing his new view on Christmas. A Christmas Carol’s most important message is that it is never too late to change. There is good in everyone. Scrooge is shown contrasting visions, one of light and joy and the other of darkness and avarice and Dickens shows everyone can change. The moral in this story of giving and being kind is still applied to today because without them everyone would be mean like Scrooge.