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How effectively and to what purpose does Dickens use the device of flashbacks and visions in ''A Christmas Carol''?

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How effectively and to what purpose does Dickens use the device of flashbacks and visions in ''A Christmas Carol''? Introduction The title "A Christmas Carol" already portrays a time of giving and most of all change within a person's life, which gives us more of an insight into the storyline. Dickens' aim is to let readers know that it is possible for people's nature to change from cruel and selfish to caring, thoughtful and helpful. The events that take place throughout the story involve flashbacks and visions of the past and the future. It is based on a man named Scrooge that has lived miserably and is foretold by an old friend that if he continues this way he will suffer the consequences in his after life. In order for him to change his actions, his old friend Marley sends him three spirits, which show him his personal past, present and future. Eventually the spirits alter Scrooge's views and way of life. Firstly the spirit of the past reminds scrooge of the happy and joyful occurrences in his early days, including visions of family and friends together and supporting him. However he is also shown the death of his wife and sister, giving the audience a glimpse of what may have triggered Scrooges will to live and the reasons he turned away from happiness. Witnessing the worst and best of his past is Scrooges salvation to a better life. Secondly, as well as showing him his home and shop the spirit of the present shows Scrooge his surroundings which involves the insight to the life of his assistant Mr Cratchit. Scrooge visits Bob Cratchit in this vision who is experiencing the difficulties of handling life with a crippled son. Lastly the spirit of the future shows that Mr.Cratchit's son Tiny Tim has passed away. Scrooge also witnesses his belongings being sold and the ways in which people perceive and speak of him. ...read more.


Through this Dickens outlines Scrooges greedy nature in the present moment. As this spirit brings Scrooge through where he lives they see the bakers and Scrooge asks whether there is a peculiar flavour in what the spirit sprinkles from his torch and the spirit replies, "There is. My own" Scrooge then asks if it would apply to any kind of dinner on this day and the spirit replies, "To any kindly given. To a poor one most". Scrooge asks why and the spirit tells him that the poor one needs the dinner the most. This must have made Scrooge realise that this is true and that he had not realised. Another part of this chapter that moves Scrooges feelings is when he is reminded of the evil words he has spoken from the Christmas Eve, which is, "If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." The spirit says these words to Scrooge at a time where they are visiting the Bob Cratchit's household. After hearing the spirits words Scrooge begins to feel remorse and shame. At this time Scrooge is feeling more and more emotional and he is also feeling sympathetic for those he has hurt during the holidays and especially for Bob Cratchit his employee after hearing the way Bob speaks of him with great respect unlike the way his wife does, "Mr Scrooge! Said Bob. "I'll give you Mr Scrooge, the founder of the feast!" these few words tell us that Bob has recognition of the fact that the meal in front of him wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Scrooge himself. How Mrs.Cratchit speaks is different, "I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for it"..."on which one drinks the health of such and odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr Scrooge." ...read more.


The fact that this is a question shows us is was as though Scrooge did not want this to be true. The final assurance that Scrooge has changed is right at the end of the chapter when Scrooge says himself, "I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past hope?...I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future...I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!" The reason I have written so many quotes here is because they are all valid for my point that Scrooge is begging for forgiveness for his past ways and that he promises he will changes and has changed. He begs that the gravestone is not to be his and he tells the phantom that he has had his lesson taught. I know knew that Scrooge had changed for the better and this is purely because he had been visited by the three spirits and Marley; this took time and gradually built more and more guilt into Scrooge's mind and this is the main reason why Scrooge changed. Conclusion Throughout analysing the story and each individual spirit we see the growth of Scrooge. Overall Dickens has written a provoking story, in his use of spirits and flashbacks creating a drastic change within Scrooge. The reader almost feels a sense of relief at Scrooges achievement as you are confident it will be for the better. The power of making Scrooge regretful is carried out effectively. Dickens sums up the story with the last chapter "The End of it" sparking the idea that at the end of something there is a new beginning which is exactly what happens. Scrooges misery is brought to an end and his happiness is shared with everyone, leaving the reader to believe that it is possible for any one to change. ...read more.

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