A Christmas carol is set in the Victorian era where there was a large divide between the rich and the poor. Dickens uses the allegorical character of ‘Scrooge’ to display the attitudes of the rich and fortunate towards those suffering through poverty and his exaggeration od Scrooge’s characteristics emphasizes his change of character towards the end of the novella.
At the beginning of the novel, Dickens introduces Scrooge as an ill-mannered, uncivil character. Dickens could also be using Scrooge as a symbol for greed “a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone”, “covetous old sinner”. Dickens uses tone to represent the gloom that pervades Scrooge’s environment creating a melancholy mood throughout that section of the text. By doing so, Dickens allows the reader to accumulate a low-spirited perception of Scrooge, he is not a particularly liked person, neither is he pleasant company. Dickens also attaches a cold nature to Scrooge’s personality through his comparison of Scrooge to the weather; “The cold within him froze his old features”, “He carried his own low temperature”. Here, Dickens uses a metaphor to imply to the reader that Scrooge’s character is equally as unsatisfactory as extreme cold weather (‘froze’).
Stave Two gradually shows outburst of emotion, (which there were no signs of in Stave One), as the ‘Spirit of Christmas Past’ reintroduces Scrooge to his childhood; “A solitary child, neglected by his friends… Scrooge said he knew it. And sobbed”. Evidently the character Scrooge has started allowing the memories he had endeavored to block out, flow back to him. Dickens suggests that the reason that Scrooge may have blocked out his childhood occurrences is that they were too painful for him. As a juxtaposition to Scrooge’s uncomfortable encounter with his past, ‘neglected’ self, he recalls his love for book characters; “ ‘why, it’s Ali Baba!’ Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy.” So far, the reader hadn’t been knowledgeable of Scrooge’s fondness of anything, however, the reader now begins to recognize and uncover the fact that Scrooge once held book characters close to his heart.
In result of this apprehension of Scrooge’s past compassion for book characters, there is a possibility that Scrooge could undergo a change of heart which ends his limited affection for things. UP until now, Scrooge’s only known love was wealth. This ‘excitement’ continues throughout the Stave as Scrooge revisits the ‘Fezziwigs’ but his encounter with the character Belle (another past love of his), is too much for Scrooge to handle; “Remove me! Scrooge exclaimed, ‘I cannot bear it!”. From Scrooge’s drastic switch from excitement to an urgent need to leave, the reader can decipher that Scrooge is still too stubborn to accept that the only way to change himself is to embrace his memories, which he doesn’t seem to be allowing himself to do.
Stave Three shows Scrooge’s realization of the needs of the poor as the Spirit of Christmas Present takes him to see the Cratchits who are grateful for what they have, despite it being small in quantity. However when the ghost ‘sprinkled incense’ upon the food of the poor, Scrooge asked why he should give to ‘a poor one most’ which shows that he still hasn’t grasped that he has a responsibility to mankind and so questions kindness when he comes upon it. At the Cratchits house, Scrooge asks if ‘Tiny Tim will live’ with ‘an interest he has never felt before’, an example of Scrooge beginning to care for other people for reasons other than gain and greed. We also see that Scrooge regrets his words against the poor as he ‘hung his head to hear his own words’ repeated back to him. This indicates that he has realized that his actions have been wrong and therefore need to change. His concern for ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Want’ at the end of the stave shows his acknowledgement that poorer people do need help and balances with his ignorance in Stave One. So at the end of this stave Scrooge is no longer hiding from his problems, showing that he has a desire to change his way, a quality, which was not apparent at the beginning of the novella.
At the beginning of Stave Four, Scrooge admits that he hopes to be ‘another man’ from what he was which almost surprises the reader considering the first two staves where he refused to believe that he needed to change his ways. He encourages the Spirit to ‘lead on’ which tells us that he is anxious or/and determined to learn more and improve his ways. When Scrooge sees himself dead in his room he realizes that ‘avarice, hard dealing’ and ‘griping cares’ brought him to an end. When he asks to see ‘emotion’ linked to his death we see that Scrooge actually does want people to care for him and he relishes the thought that he will die alone. At the end of the stave Scrooge exclaims that he will ‘live in the Past, the Present and the Future’ which tells us that he intends to change his ways and has learnt that he must act differently and treat others differently if he wishes to avoid his dreaded fate.
The structure of Stave Five emphasizes Scrooge’s change as the events mirror that in the first. He refers to a young boy as ‘lovely’ in comparison to his mean attitude towards the carol singer earlier on. He then donates a large sum of money to the portly gentleman, an utter change in attitude to charity. He then visits Fred and chooses to embrace family life, confirming that he has learnt of the importance of family instead of turning them away. His kindness towards Bob at the end of the novel and the summary by Dickens proves that he was ‘as good a man’ as he intended to become as his kindness and charity made him a happier and valued man.
Overall, the reader gets a feel of what people like Scrooge look like to others. Dickens uses a fantasized occurrence to assist the reader in comprehending how even the worst of people have the opportunity to change everything about themselves, create a new outlook on their surroundings. Scrooge changes for the better with the aid of the Three Spirits. It’s possible that Scrooge thought he had nothing to be joyous about nor to be grateful for and it took three distinguishably influential Ghosts for Scrooge to adapt to a loving, more positive mindset.
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