The novel begins on Christmas eve where there is a thick fog around the streets. The fog represents Scrooge’s state of mind. He is lost and can not see very far forward which shows he is morally lost and can not see the right way ahead or see a life away from his work. It also symbolises how alone he is. When two gentlemen go by his work to ask for a donation for the poor, Scrooge refuses to give one and so ‘the fog and darkness thickened’, which shows Scrooge pushing himself further away from people and so becoming more lonely.
The darkness in Scrooge’s house shows the lack of Christmas in his life. Again it also represents Scrooge’s loneliness as there is no one else there to see. He is greedy and ignorant and as Scrooge does not attempt to make the house lighter you can see how he is stubborn to not change. This symbolism of darkness can also be seen in other parts of the novel, especially when Scrooge meets the last ghost and sees his grim future. In this part darkness also represents fear and lack of knowledge of the future, as the ghost of Christmas yet to come is dressed in black.
On Christmas eve the thought of coldness is also emphesised. This is because Scrooge is ‘cold within’ symbolising he lacks emotion and love in his life and so is lonely. The coldness around him shows how he lacks Christmas cheer. When you see Scrooge as a child at his school he is also cold, as he is alone and miserable. Also when Belle leaves him the coldness represents Scrooge becoming less affectionate. It also proves that Scrooge is a miserly person as he wont allow Bob Cratchet to refuel the fire. The other main atmosphere produced is on Christmas day after the ghosts have visited Scrooge.
The atmosphere then is the opposite to the one the previous night. The fog has cleared, which represents how Scrooge is now clear minded and is living a more free life. It symbolises he can see the people around him and is more charitable and caring. He no longer lacks company. It is a light day outside, which shows he has been enlightened and is aware of which path to take. It represents his sudden Christmas spirit and compassion as he learns how to lead a positive life and so becomes more charitable now too.
Also the brightness of the day represents how Scrooge is much happier and energetic. In the novel money represents lack of human compassion. Belle says ‘another idol has displaced me’ when she leaves Scrooge as she notices his change towards her due to loving money more. In the novel it shows that being wealthy or poor does not make a difference in people’s happiness. This can be seen in the Cratchet’s home were they have a small pudding for a large family and still enjoy the meal.
This is because food symbolises abundance, hope and excitement as people prepare the Christmas meals. The chains that Marley carries symbolise the bad deeds he did in his life. These were mostly due to miserliness. He is now paying for the consequences of those sins as it is too late for Marley to gain forgiveness and so he is inslaved and reminded for all eternity of the bad life he lead. Also as every bad deed is done and every link is made the heavier the chain and so the worse his conscience becomes.
As Marley is an example of what will happen to Scrooge if he does not mend his ways, Scrooge will become inslaved by his life too by the chain he is already making. Children symbolise many things in the novel. Under the ghost of Christmas present’s robe there are two children: Ignorance and Want. They are represented as children as they are formed by men and are innocent victims which hide under the ghosts robe for protection. Tiny Tim also represents the need for protection as without Scrooge’s help he will die.
He also symbolises kindness as he thinks of others and wishes happiness unto all people. The ghost of Christmas past is partly a child to symbolise hope and Scrooge’s past as a child when he was honest and innocent. Children also represent lack of experience, like Scrooge as a young man doing an apprentaship. ‘A little girl… came darting in,… and often kissing him… and bending down to laugh’ shows energy, innocence, happiness and love in Scrooge’s younger sister. The boy that fetched the goose for Scrooge also symbolised energy and joy, as he ‘was off like a shot’.
Warmth symbolises compassion, christmas spirit and good cheer. You can see this when the ghost of Christmas present shows Scrooge his Nephew’s house where there is a ‘brisk fire’ warming up a house full of cheer and laughter. In this novel Christmas itself is a symbol. It symbolises good cheer, hope, honesty, innocence, awareness, charity, caring, compassion, love and many more positive things. As Christmas brings out the best in people and we are more thoughtful of one another around that season. The lack of Christmas spirit in Scrooge and the way he believes Christmas to be a ‘Humbug!
Shows how he lacks all the positive things in his life. The change you see at the end of the novel where he is happy that Christmas has arrived shows he has changed to be a much more compassionate person. The symbolism in ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens emphesises the differences in atmosphere through the novel. It also explains how people are feelings. Some of the symbols structure the way the book is and so are necessary. ‘A Christmas Carol’ would not have the same effect without the hidden messages in it as it relies heavily on symbolism.