|Type of paper:||Literature review|
|Categories:||Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol|
Charles Dicken's book, A Christmas Carol, involves Ebenezer Scrooge, the main protagonist, who only thinks about money (Dickens 27). This makes him work even during Christmas Eve and complain about the holiday and those who celebrate it. Fred, Scrooge's nephew, has always been sending Christmas dinner invitations to Scrooge, but all have been ignored. Scrooge is so negative about the Christmas holiday that he threatened to fire Bob Cratchit, his clerk, for quietly applauding Fred's inspirational defence for it. He also failed to contribute some funds towards people collecting money for the poor by claiming that he already supported workhouses and prisons for the poor. However, Scrooge changed his ways and became miserable after the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come showed him his lonely and miserable death (Miles 34). Self-serving and selfish individuals can be converted to socially conscious, caring and charitable members of the society and the paper sets to analyse this reality from Charles Dicken's, A Christmas Carol.
As aforementioned, the author narrates how the protagonist faced the reality of the negativity of his cruel actions towards others, learned the Christmas lesson, and underwent social transformation to become a compassionate human being (Vidovic 176). The reader get to understand the protagonist's harshness while in the office. For instance, he treated Bob Cratchit harshly while at the same time claimed that his clerk was exploiting him. At Fezziwig's warehouse, Scrooge felt his first twinge of conscience when he became conversant with the attitudes of a caring and conscientious employer. The author tries to figure out the source of Scrooge's indifference to others by examining his childhood. Scrooge was a neglected child whose harsh father did not allow him to go home for the holidays.
Ebenezer Scrooge vehemently opposed the concept of Christmas not because he lacked the Christian background but because the holiday interrupted normal business. The protagonist lacked sympathy towards the less fortunate in the society. The author uses Christmas to depict Scrooge's attitudes towards people. The religious meaning of the Christmas holiday is insignificant to the story except the love for one's neighbour or the sense of Christian charity. The author uses the terms "spirit" and "ghost" alternatively. The word "spirit" had several interpretations during Dicken's time. For instance, the spirits that visited Scrooge during Christmas Eve were spirits in the religious, supernatural, and emotional senses.
The ghost of Marley teaches his former partner about materialism, as Marley is condemned to drag an enormous chain attached to cash boxes: "I wear the chain I forged in life," the ghost explains. Additionally he also says that "I made it link by link." Marley then warns Scrooge that a similar fate awaits him, and that the three spirits are coming to make him change. Marley was saddened by the realisation of his failure to do the right things. The ghost mirrored Scrooge's present state of mind and is the only spirit representing a human being. Scrooge's ability to ignore human beings at the beginning enabled him to handle Marley's ghost with ease. The theme of regret gets showcased at this point. The theme is revealed once more when the first spirit shows Scrooge the phantoms crying in agony, many of whom were recognizable to him. The phantoms see humans in need of their help but it too late for them since they could not help.
The novel also contains important social commentary. As the two men collected money meant for the poor during Christmas Eve Scrooge asked, "Are there no prisons?" One of the men answers by saying that the poor would rather die than go to the workhouses that were in deplorable conditions. Scrooge replies by saying "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population", which compares to Robert Malthus' theory of population. Malthus theory suggests that population growth would soon outstrip food production and result in "surplus population" for which the society would be unable to provide for. Later, Scrooge pleaded for the Tiny Tim to live but the Ghost of Christmas Present answered him, "What then? If he had to die, he'd better die and decrease the surplus population"
The ghost of Christmas Present took Scrooge to the streets on the morning of Christmas day to see many happy families and the warmth and love of Bob Cratchit's home (Standiford 60). Although the Cratchit family had little to hang on to, they shared a particular devotion that lacked in Scrooge's life. Bob Cratchit's wife adored him, a phenomenon that struck scrooge. Scrooge asked about two ragged children clinging onto the skirts of the Ghost of Christmas Present and was told "they are man's...this boy is ignorance. This girl is want". The spirit warned, "Beware them both, and all their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless the writing be erased." The warning sounded a message that those who failed to share their prosperity with others may soon become dangerous to society. The ghost of the Christmas Present represents the outside world, which is a world of joy and happiness, which the protagonist denied himself. From the developments, it appears that the French revolution that occurred 50 years earlier may have been on the author's mind. The author stresses the idea that human beings are responsible for their fate, either individually or as a group. He believes that in the future, people would have to answer for their misdeeds. The Ghost of the Christmas Past represented Scrooge's youth. Scrooge sees himself as an abandoned child at school, then Mr. Fezziwig's apprentice enjoying warm Christmas Eve festivities, and finally as a successful entrepreneur who breaks up with his fiancee because he loved money more than he loved her. He also received a disturbing vision whereby his fiancee married another man and had had children. Moreover, the ghost represents memory, particularly suppressed memory. This is because after the departure of the second spirit, Scrooge gets to understand that he shut out the human race because of suffering similar exclusion as a kid.
The Final Spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is covered in black, with only a hand showing. The spirit first takes Scrooge to the stock exchange where he hears his colleagues talking about the recent death but is unaware of the dead person. He also witnesses another scene in a junk shop, as a man and two women bring in items stolen from the deceased person. The three also stole the deceased man, even from the death bead, as his body lay there. Later, the spirit showed Scrooge lying dead in a striped bed from an empty house. The protagonist asked if anyone would feel sad during his death and he sees, a couple that owe him some money. The couple is relieved and they hoped that their debt will be transferred to a less relentless creditor. As soon as Scrooge began to have a glimpse of the future, he pleads with the ghost to assure him that the visions are for what may happen, not what will happen. He grabbed the ghost's hand in desperation but the hand turned to become a bedpost, from his bed. Scrooge was delighted to be alive and decided to change his life. He underwent immediate transformation by sending an enormous turkey to the Cratchits and wishing everyone in the street a Merry Christmas. In the afternoon, he surprised Fred by showing up for the Christmas dinner. He also announced that Bob Cratchit would receive higher pay and gave the necessary help to ensure Tiny Tim would not die. Eventually, Scrooge transformed to become a good friend, a good man, and a good master who observed the Christmas spirit.
The great nineteenth century question about how Christian morality would survive in the face of the increasing capitalistic and utilitarian world shaped the course of the book. The great financial success that Scrooge enjoyed describes the precis goal of capitalism, but the continuous wealth accumulation made him to view every aspect of life from a monetary perspective. This included his fiancee, dying friend and business partner, office staff, reputation. He weighed his associates in monetary terms and concluded that they were unworthy. On a larger scale, capitalism widened the gap between the rich and the poor and resulted in other societal ills such as creation of ghettos and slums, workhouses, and increased mortality.
On the other hand, it emerges that the solution to social injustice is not social movement but individual redemption. The world became a better and peaceful place almost immediately after Scrooge's redemption. In essence, a redemption is important since it facilitates the realisation of a renewed connection to humanity. Though the Christian understanding for Christmas calls for commitment to deep spirituality and orthodoxy, the author present's Scrooge's redemption as an authentic realisation of social vices and investment in the lives of other human beings. The redemption is not personal but more of outward looking and social. Although the social structure does not change, the significant changes in the behaviour of individuals help to improve the shared social relationships.
In conclusion, self-serving, selfish and harsh people can transform to become caring and charitable members of the society as portrayed in Charles Dicken's book, "A Christmas Carol". This reality perfectly describes the case of Ebenezer Scrooge, who had no regard for the Christmas holiday. The state of capitalism made him to view every aspect of life through the prism of money including his fiancee and dying friend and business partner. Scrooge's ability to learn about his past as a young boy proved to be a turning point for him since he was able to overcome his bitter apathy. Particularly, the fear of death made him change because he did not want to experience the events that the Ghost of the Christmas Yet to Come showed him.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas carol. Alma Books, 2018.
Miles, Clement A. Christmas in ritual and tradition, Christian and pagan. Xist Publishing, 2016.
Standiford, Les. The Man Who Invented Christmas (Movie Tie-In): How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Broadway Books, 2017.
Vidovic, Ester. "A Christmas Carol: Disability Conceptualised through Empathy and the Philosophy of 'Technologically Useful Bodies'." International Research in Children's Literature6.2 (2013): 176-191.
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