Dickens combines a description of hardships faced by the poor with a heart-rending sentimental celebration of the Christmas season. The novel contains dramatic and comic element as well as a deep felt moral theme. In the beginning of the novel Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a hardhearted and unsociable man. However at the end of the novel we see dramatic changes in him as a trio of ghostly visitations causes a complete change in him. Scrooges transformed from an unpleasant and penny-pinching character to a charitable kind man. The following essay focuses and examines the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, delving into his past, present and supposed future.
In the opening of the novel, Scrooge is depicted as a miser who would not even give enough coal to his clerk despite the harsh weather to keep the office warm. His greed is his downfall, because he is so consumed with his money that he neglects people around him. He spends his day counting profits wishing that the whole world would leave him alone. His entire life is based on making more profits. Dickens describes Scrooge as a"squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!" and that "No wind that blew was bitterer than he," meaning he was harsh and very bitter. He also states that he is as "Solitary as an oyster," which means he did not open up to people and was often alone.
On Christmas Eve his nephew comes to invite Scrooge to a Christmas dinner. Scrooge however refuses and replies with his customary phrase "Bah! Humbug!" refusing to share his nephew's Christmas cheer. He sees Christmas as a time for finding yourself "a year older but not an hour richer." After Fred departs, a pair of portly gentlemen enter the office to ask Scrooge for a charitable donation to help the poor. Scrooge angrily replies that there are prisons and workhouses and they leave empty-handed. Scrooge is greedy and sees no reason in donating money to the poor. He thinks of them as idle and he states that if they would rather die than to go to the workhouse "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." Scrooge confronts Bob Crachit and complains about Bob's wish to take Christmas day off. "What good is Christmas," Scrooge snipes, " that it should shut down businesses?" he reluctantly agrees to give Bob a day off, providing he arrives earlier to work the next day.
Later that evening Scrooge returns home through dismal, fog-blanketed London streets. Just before entering his house, the doorknocker catches his attention. He sees a ghostly image that gives him a momentary shock; it is the peering face of Jacob Marley his dead partner. When Scrooge takes a closer look the image disappears. With a disgusted "Pooh-Pooh," Scrooge opens the door and enters his hose. He makes no attempt to brighten his home, "darkness is cheap, and scrooge liked it." Whilst he is in his room he hears the deafening sound of bell chimes and footsteps. A ghostly figure floats through the closed door of Jacob Marley, transparent and bound in chains. Scrooge shouts in disbelief, refusing to admit that he sees Marley's Ghost. The ghost comes to warn Scrooge of the horrible fate that awaits him unless he changes his way. Jacob Marley regrets his past and has an everlasting feeling of regret. He warns Scrooge that if he does not mend his ways a greater burden awaits him. Marley had not learned till it was too late that charity and kindness was important in a human life. Scrooge focuses too much on wealth and not people. However Marley tells Scrooge he still has a chance to change before it is too late. He tells him three spirits would visit him. He then rises and goes out of the window. Scrooge sees spirits bound in chains. They cry about their failure to lead honorable and caring lives. As Marley disappears scrooge stumbles to bed and falls asleep.
Scrooge awakes at midnight and remembers the words of Marley's ghost. The first of the three spirits would arrive at one, so scrooge, frightened decides to wait. At one o'clock, the curtains of scrooge's bed are blown aside by a strange childlike figure merging an aura of wisdom and richness of experience. The spirit informs Scrooge that he is the ghost of Christmas past. The spirit touches Scrooge's heart, granting him the ability to fly. The spirit takes Scrooge to the countryside where he was raised. He sees his old school, his old school mates and familiar landmarks of his youth. Touched by these memories he begins to sob. The ghost takes him on a depressing tour of his past Christmases. Scrooge is portrayed as a loner. Dickens might be suggesting Scrooge's contempt for humanity has roots from his childhood experience. At last, a girl, Scrooge's sister Fan, runs into his classroom, where he stayed alone during Christmas holidays, to take him home. The young Scrooge delightfully embraces his sister. The aged Scrooge regretfully tells the ghost that Fan died many years ago and is the mother of his nephew Fred. Scrooge feels great sorry as he remembers his past and guilt for being rude to his nephew on that day. Here we can see a change in his hardened attitude.
The ghost then escorts Scrooge to more Christmases of the past. They appear at a party thrown by fezziwig a man Scrooge apprenticed as a young man. There is music and Dickens creates a celebratory mood in this scene to show Scrooge how his boss celebrated Christmas with him and others. Scrooge feels another twinge of conscience as he remembers the way he treated his own employee Bob Crachit. Next Scrooge sees a slightly older version of himself with a young lady called Belle. She is breaking off their engagement crying that greed had corrupted the love Scrooge had once had for her; Scrooge makes no attempt to stop her as he is too consumed with his money. Then Scrooge sees Belle happily married as she talks to her husband about Scrooge. She describes Scrooge as quite alone in the world." The older Scrooge can no longer bear to witness his loss of Belle. He begs the spirit to take him back home. Tormented and full of despair, he reaches home and falls asleep immediately. Each episode in the scenes shows a younger Scrooge who was still in touch with human beings, until money overtook his ability to love. His lust for it destroyed his relationship with Belle. These scenes begin the changes in Scrooge as his past is re-enacted.
Scrooge awakens gladly to a majestic figure in green robes. His room has undergone a transformation, it is filled with Christmas feasts and other things related to Christmas. Perhaps the transformation of the room is a prelude to his personal transformation. He tells Scrooge his lifespan is one day. The spirit tells Scrooge to touch his robe. Scrooge finds himself in a bustling city on Christmas morning, where he sees Christmas shoppers wishing a "merry Christmas to passers by.
The spirit takes Scrooge to the home of Bob Crachit, where they sit and savor the few Christmas treats they can afford. The family is content despite the skimpy meal. Bob comes home with a crippled boy called Tiny Tim. Scrooge sees Tiny Tim and asks if he will survive. The spirit replies that "if the conditions are not changed, he sees an empty chair at next year's Christmas dinner." Scrooge shows concern for him in this scene. He remembers his own words when he stated those "who are dying should hurry up and decrease the surplus population" He is overwhelmed with guilt as he thinks of Tiny Tim as the "surplus population." He is beginning to have genuine concerns about people. The spirit takes Scrooge to an isolated community of miners who still celebrate Christmas despite their conditions.
Afterwards, the spirit takes Scrooge to Fred's Christmas party, where Scrooge loses himself in the fun and games and nags the spirit to stay a little while longer. This is an enormous change in the previously anti-social Scrooge. He is having so much fun; he cannot keep away from Fred's house. Before the spirit departs, Scrooge catches a sight of a pair of starving children, the allegorical twins. Their names are Ignorance and Want. They represent the people pf this world that are ignorant and just want more and more. They have to be fought in this society. Scrooge inquires if nothing can be done to help them. Mockingly, the ghost quotes Scrooge's statement, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouse?" The spirit is used to educate Scrooge that it does not pay to be ignorant and greedy and it only lads to destruction. The spirit disappears as the clock strikes midnight. Dickens uses the spirit to represent empathy, enabling Scrooge to not only see the Crachits but also to feel sorrow and hardships of their daily life. Dickens uses this scene to show that Christmas should stimulate within people a concern for wants and need of others. Dickens is trying to show the middle class or upper class readers a sentimental portrait of the lower classes. He is also trying to awaken the readers to the harsh realities of poverty.
After the second spirit leaves, Scrooge sees the ghost of Christmas present. He is a phantom dressed in a black hooded robe. He does not talk, but guides Scrooge by pointing. He takes him to a place where a group of businessmen talk about the death of a rich man. Next Scrooge sees a group of pawnbrokers selling stolen clothing from a dead man. They talk about how no one attends his funeral. Scrooge is pitiful of the person .He is taken to where a husband and wife express relief at the death of an unforgiving man whom they owed money; Scrooge feels pity for the unloved rich man. He asks to see a death which is mourned. He is taken to the Crachit household.
He sees the sadness Tiny Tims death caused and thinks of ways he could have prevented this. Finally Scrooge is taken to a gravestone; he begs to know the identity of the dead man. He approaches the grave and sees the name EBENEZER SCROOGE. Stunned, Scrooge begs the spirit to undo the events. He promises to honor Christmas from deep within his heart. As Scrooge begs for mercy, the ghost disappears and Scrooge finds himself at home in his own bed. The last scene serves to remind Scrooge of his fate if he did not change his ways.
By the end of the novel we can see that Scrooge has changed a great deal. He has changed from a selfish and inconsiderate man to a charitable, caring man with a kind heart. His behavior changes due to a mixture of shock, fear and guilty conscience. In the place of his misanthropic, misery self, is warmth, generosity and goodwill. He learns the ability to understand other people's feelings. The end of the novel Dickens uses lighter language. Dickens shows an image of a new and changed character. Scrooge gives generously to the poor. Scrooge visits his nephew to celebrate Christmas. He also gives Bob Crachit a rise. He apologizes for his past bitterness. Tiny Tim is saved due to Scrooge's generous actions. The famous last words of the novel "God bless us, every one!" conveys perfectly the fellow feeling and good cheer to which Scrooge awakens as his story unfolds and that A Christmas Carol celebrates. Empathy enables Scrooge to sympathize with and understand those less fortunate than himself, people like Tiny Tim and Bob Crachit.
In this novel Charles Dickens attacks the poor laws. They were laws governing the underclass Victorians. He exposes the weaknesses of the government that restricts the poor to work houses or life imprisonment. Dickens' portrayal of Crachit puts a human face on the poorer classes. The moral of the story is that we are not in this world for our own benefit only but more important others. It is each person's duty to help the less fortunate and that money does not bring about happiness as Scrooge learns. Dickens uses this novel to educate the Victorians, so they can find out the real truth about life. They would find the ending satisfying and at the sane time learn from it.
The novel is written in staves, which represents musical staves. Dickens uses staves instead of chapters as a reminder of the musical notation of a Christmas carol. Each of the middle three staves revolve around the ghostly visitations that bring about a change in Scrooge. The writer uses flashbacks to remind us of the past Scrooge and the ways in which he changes. The novel speaks to both Victorians of Dickens's era and people in our present day. His message is universal Christmas is the season of goodwill and a rime to share one's wealth with others less fortunate .Although Scrooge is an extreme example of a miser, perhaps Dickens is saying there is little of Scrooge in all of us whether it is an unwillingness to hare our money with the poor and need or our time with people in need!