Charles Dickens social aim is to help the readers of the book understand the problems and sufferings of the poor. In the book, which was set in the Victorian Era, the poor worked for long hours for a very little pay, had poor housing and were ignorant due to little or no education. When they needed benefits, they could only seek assistance from the charitable institutions (which were not plentiful at this time) or the work houses. Scrooge is an example of the typical rich man in the Victorian era.
He believed that poverty was as a cause of the poor mans laziness and the rich have provided them with the facilities and equipment to help them such as workhouses, prisons, “the poor law”, and “the treadmill law” which were totally inadequate. Dickens tries to open the eyes of the rich and the powerful and to encourage them to help the poor/common man. Dickens sets his novella during the Christmas period as it symbolises a time of year when people are aware of giving, charity and helping the less fortunate. Mr Scrooge was a very wicked, stingy rich man and Dickens used him (Scrooge) as a caricature to reflect all the evil within the society.
Dickens described him as: “… A tight-fisted hand at the grindstone. Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner… the cold within him froze his old features… and spoke out shrewdly in his voice”. Everything about him is mean and cruel. The people did not even like him “Nobody ever stopped him on the street to say … ” He was very greedy and he believed that the facilities that were established for the poor were enough for them (the workhouses were very cold places to be and provided its inhabitants with very little to eat).
Mr Scrooge treated his clerk, Bob Crachit, with no respect and gave him no liberty and very little supplies. Bob Crachit symbolises the poor people who were honest, good employees. Bob Crachit was like every poor person working in the Victorian time, working for very long hours and for a very little pay. “… he might keep his eye on his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, sort of tank, was copying letters … the clerks coal was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal but he couldn’t replenish it … ”
He was a very timid, cheerful and kind man, though he was poor, Dickens shows that the poor were more joyful and merrier than the rich and those in power. Through Bob Crachit he presents the idea of kindness and generosity makes one happy. Fred, Scrooges nephew; who was a very merry man showed and presented Dickens view of Christmas: “But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas… as a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time… ” He is presented as a contrast to Scrooge. Scrooge objected to what his nephew said and believes Christmas is another working day,
“every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a shake of holly through his heart” “A poor excuse for picking a mans pocket every twenty-fifth of December” When Marley comes to visit Scrooge and tells him about visits of the three ghosts, he was in chains. These chains are as a result of Jacob Marley’s selfishness and greed on the Earth. “I wear the chain I forged in life… and of my own free will I wore it” The ghost of Marley also tells Scrooge that he has forged a chain for himself and his chain is longer and heavier than Marley’s
“The weight of the chain of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy… ” The chain is to symbolise the uncaring and ignorant attitudes of the rich or wealthy of this time. It offers a warning to those who support Scrooges ideas as it suggests if they continue being selfish, they will be damned. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts; the first ghost was described to be white and have child-like features, “… like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man… and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age… “