In this essay I will attempt to show how Scrooge, the main character in A Christmas Carol, changes as the book progresses. I will show what causes him to change, in order of what happens, and how the reader (present day and contemporary) feels and is affected by this change. In the beginning of the story, we see immediately that Scrooge is a grumpy old man who hates Christmas. However, the reader is also told that Marley, Scrooge’s “sole friend”, is dead. This interests the reader into thinking this may be the cause for Scrooge’s cantankerous nature.
But we cannot be sure because we do not know what he was like before his good friend’s death. Many people dislike Scrooge because of his ill-temperedness. He does not have very good relationships with the people around him and he is an outcast of society. He “edged his way through the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keeps its distance” and was a cold hearted man. This makes the reader all the more curious about why he is like this, and possibly sympathetic towards his loneliness.
We see him interact first with his nephew, and we see what an irritable man he really is. He says “What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? ” This shows that he dislikes happiness around him and would prefer it if it were not there. Dickens makes the reader dislike him at this point, but still keep some interest in his character. We only see another side of Scrooge when Marley’s ghost visits him. But even then, he refuses to believe what he sees is actually real.
The reader feels sorry for Scrooge because he tries to remain calm: “‘How now!’ said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. ‘What do you want with me? ‘” The reader laughs at Scrooge for trying so hard to keep his cool. Marley has the power in their conversation, and this becomes very clear when Scrooge shouts “Mercy! ” and this makes the reader feel very sorry for him. Marley’s ghost teaches him about the consequence of having a bad life, and warns Scrooge about it: ‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. `I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. ”
After Jacob Marley’s ghost disappears, Scrooge tries to fool himself that he was just imagining things, and because of this, the reader feels superior to him. We see more of this “new” side of Scrooge when he is taken on a journey by the Ghost of Christmas Past. When he begins to cry, the reader feels sorry for him, then superior when he denies that it is a tear, because he refuses to show his emotional side. The reader gets a really big shock when Scrooge remarks, “Why, it’s Ali Baba! It’s dear old honest Ali Baba! ” and then goes on to make a really long speech using language such as “poor boy!
” We are shocked because it seems like this is a completely different, sympathetic, almost kind hearted character from the one we met at the beginning of the story. “Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character”, he says something that makes the reader feel sorry for him and almost regret their feelings of dislike for him at the beginning of the book. He regrets not having given the carol singer any money: “I should like to have given him something: that’s all. ” This is the first real change we see in Scrooge, and it is quite significant as the turning point in his character.
The Ghost of Christmas Present makes quite a big impact on Scrooge when they first meet, as they are practically completely different sorts of people. Scrooge tells the spirit that he has “learnt a lesson which is working now,” and the reader feels sympathetic towards Scrooge for having undergone the “torture” of seeing what he was like at a younger age (unsociable, lonely, cold hearted, etc. ) The Ghost takes Scrooge outside to the street, and Scrooge learns a lot from what he is told. The reader feels superior to Scrooge because he seems rather nai?? ve when he asks the ghost why he spreads happiness to “a poor one [person] most?