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A Christmas carol by Charles Dickens-what do we learn about the conditions of the poor in society and attitudes towards them in A Christmas Carol?

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Introduction

'A Christmas carol' by Charles Dickens-what do we learn about the conditions of the poor in society and attitudes towards them in 'A Christmas Carol?' In this essay I will be answering the question 'What do we learn about the conditions of the poor in society and attitudes towards them in A Christmas Carol?' In the 1840s, in England, the poor and the unfortunate had to face a terrible life. Many poor people were homeless as the city of London had become an overcrowded and dirty place due to the industrial revolution-because of the industrial revolution there was an increase in job requirements in cities especially London. People from the countryside and from other cities came to London in search of jobs which caused an increase in the population ergo making London an overcrowded city (as mentioned before). Young children were used as labourers who were required to work fourteen hours a day in an attempt to help their families pay bills-these bills mostly consisted of debts which the family had to loan out in order for the family to be provided with essentials such as food and clothing. Most of the times these loans were necessary as workers usually had low wages. In A Christmas Carol, the underprivileged are symbolized by Bob Cratchit and his family. Bob Cratchit is a character in the novel who lives in a congested 'hovel'. He provides for his family with only 15 shillings a week, while his young daughter even works on Christmas Day to maintain the position of the family- even though the position of the family was not the most excellent, they did not want to fall into the clutches of the dreaded work houses. It was well known that most of the poor thought this as a place where they went to as a last resort. They hated the idea of being in a work house so much that many believed 'they would rather die' than go to one. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that because Bob Cratchit and his family are very poor, the younger members of his family had to work very hard, even during the night till the morning, therefore Dickens has proved to us that the poor were far from lazy, whereas the rich were more lazy than the poor since they didn't have to work too hard to the extent that they believed they would rather die. Furthermore, when Scrooge and the Christmas spirit visit a poor district in London we are made to feel sympathetic towards the underprivileged. "Alleys and archways like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth and misery." This tells us that the poor have to live in small filthy places where it was filled with disease and 'misery'. This quote also tells us that some places in Victorian London were very crowded with shops and houses built in alleyways, also because London was so overcrowded their had been such a rise in crime, that it actually 'reeked' with felony. This also shows that London had become overcrowded because of the increase of job demands due to the industrial revolution. It additionally illustrates to us that the poor have no other means of survival but to participate with crime. The poor and their contribution with crime is even more expressed when they raid Scrooge's corpse in attempt to receive some money out of it. "He frightened everyone away from him when he was alive, to profit us when he was dead!" This quote shows that the poor will not stop at anything to get hold of money, even if it means stripping a dead man of his clothes. The poor say they are doing the right thing because if they didn't strip Scrooge of his belongings then all the valuables would go to waste, which may not hold too much value with Scrooge but the money which would make would be a benefit to their extremely low wages. ...read more.

Conclusion

said Scrooge, "Show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture?"' This extract shows that Scrooge is feeling culpable for the things he had done to the unfortunate; before he looked at them with scorn and disgust but now he considers watching the poor and the ghosts of his past in agony, deeming it as torture for himself. This may be a jovial, comic ghost story, but it is also a very serious description of Victorian social attitudes towards society. Charles Dickens makes it very clear of the results of disregarding his caution towards the underprivileged: "Most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom unless the writing be erased." From this quote you can see evidently that Charles Dickens is trying to send a message to us, the readers of the novel, that if we as human beings continue to ignore the poor then 'doom' will be written in our fate. The message that Charles Dickens is trying to send us through this book is that the rich and middle class should not ignore the poor or they will suffer greatly for their actions in their afterlife. This message is relevant in today's society that does not believe in an afterlife. This is because although there are people drifting away from the religious side of life there are still religious people who exist in society who believe in these sort of messages that there should not be any sort of inequality in society-both status wise and race wise. Also though there may be non-religious people or atheists in society who don't really abide by rules and regulations of a religion, but, they still have morals and a sense of feeling of how they should treat the poor. Therefore whether you look at it in a religious point of view or a non-religious point of view you will still find that such morals and messages are still significant in today's world. ...read more.

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