Dickens' The Christmas Carol is known as a cute exaltation of the Christmas spirit' of charity and love for our fellow man. Almost everyone growing up as a kid has read or seen some kind of version of The Christmas Carol during the holidays in the month of December. It is a story about a tightfisted lonely man known as Scrooge who learns to give and receive love which I think we would all agree is more than appropriate for the season.
But Dickens' story has more meaning and as you get deeper into the story you learn that there is a dark reflection on a changing society The economic theory embedded in The Christmas Carol by Dickens' is one of hardships and poor times like the British society in the 19th century. Life was hard in Dickens' England. The Poor Laws relegated debtors and the jobless to prisons or workhouses where families were separated. They were fed harsh diets designed to sustain them, barely. Children were 'apprenticed' to industries where they became a source of cheap labor. Examples of this, as the Cratchit family which was a poor family who could barely afford dinner for Christmas and the details in the story about how people lived during that time. There was basically a utilitarianism philosophy, which argued that people didn't enjoy basic rights, and so the object of the Poor Laws was to make the workhouses so awful that any kind of private menial labor would be an improvement. But many Englishmen chose begging or a life of crime instead. The economic theory of this time period is known to favor the views of Thomas Malthus, who a pessimist who described economics as the dismal science.
There were several economic/social relationships described in the story. Many of them related to Scrooge due to the fact that Scrooge was the man in the story who was very wealthy but didn't share his money with anyone in the society and had no Christmas spirit. An example of this in the story is when Scrooge refuses to assist the charitable businessmen, asking instead, 'Are there no prisons? And... workhouses? ' or when he comments to the businessman's reply that the poor would rather die than go to a workhouse, saying, 'If they would rather die... hey had better do it, and decrease the surplus population,' he is but reflecting the worst attitudes of a community that accepted only financial success as a good, and was blind to sympathy, fellow feeling, or attachment to humanity. As hard as life was then, the hearts of the well off were often harder. Self-help and hard work were seen as a universal cure for trouble, while failure was clearly sinful. I don't believe there is a tension between the old way of doing things and the new society embedded in this story.
In the story Scrooge saves himself because he examines his past, present, and likely future and doesn't like what he sees--the missed opportunities for love, friendship, and happiness. Scrooge takes responsibility for himself by taking care of others--and by seeing to the needs of those less advantaged than he, finds the connection to others that he's been missing. I feel like in the story that Scrooge and society learned there lesson and that the only way to fix their economic problems laid in their own hands and the way they lived their lives.
By having the rich help the poor like Scrooge did towards the end it makes everyone's outlook more positive and things start to get better. So comparing it to the 19th century in British Society I believe there is a huge comparison but it just took a lot longer for it to happen in that society and there is no tension between the old and new ways of doing things. A Christmas Carol reminds us that we are not alone unless we choose to be. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, we learn that when we help others, we help ourselves.