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Prose - A Christmas Carol

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Introduction

Prose Essay - How is the character of Scrooge influenced by the three spirits and how does Dickens use the three spirits to convey his message? Charles Dickens wrote 'A Christmas Carol' in 1843, which was published on December 17th of the same year. This novel of spiritual renewal received a joyful welcome from the public. Readers were moved by the story of the delightfully, yet despicable Scrooge, a heartless old miser who undergoes a miraculous rebirth at Christmas time, the only time 'in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open up their hearts freely'. Dickens wrote about the society he saw around him, and so his inspiration for the didactic novel was the social divide between rich and poor. He chose to enhance this situation in his novel by setting it at Christmas, for this would have separated the rich and poor even more, especially in Victorian times. At the time 'A Christmas Carol' was written, the conditions for the poor in the Victorian era were awful. The gap between the rich and poor was large not only in wealth, but also in rights. Working conditions for the lower classes were appalling, but the rich, all of whom enjoyed their life in luxury, had nothing to do with these problems. Dickens did however. He didn't agree with the social divide among rich and poor, and so chose to highlight this situation in this novel. The poor had diabolical living conditions as well as pitiful amounts of money and bad nutrition, and for all this, they had to do dangerous jobs. They were treated with acts of cruelty, oppression and neglect, meaning many people died every night due to poor health. The reason Dickens had an obsession with the divide between upper and lower classes was because the author had experienced poverty first had, and therefore made his novels even more personal. ...read more.

Middle

It is clear to the reader in this stave that Scrooge slowly changes with time. He begins as an innocent small boy alone at Christmas, and then becomes more loving to people willing to be around him, until his desire to succeed overtakes his love for his fellow people. After this, his love is then directed at gaining and collecting money. The worst change that occurs to Scrooge is the change from the fun and loving Scrooge at the Christmas party, who had just entered his first job, to the callous man who prefers money over love, and would prefer to invest in business over family. It is now obvious to the reader as to how and why Scrooge is the man he is currently, especially around the Christmas season and why he is so bitter. Despite this it is unclear as to how he changed from loving to bitter after only one episode. It is not only the reader that gets affected by the events that we see in the episodes, but the current day Scrooge also gets affected. At the beginning of his journey, we can tell that he doesn't want to change from the quote that says 'Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered'. Yet that attitude is not there for long. In the first episode, as the jocund travellers went by, Scrooge took delight in naming every one, which contradicted the actions of Scrooge a few minutes ago. Also in the first episode, after the Spectre describes the young Scrooge as 'a solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still', the older Scrooge sobs at it, because he knew it was true. This shows that Scrooge is still haunted by the Ghosts of his past, influencing his bitter behaviour towards Christmas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens uses Tiny Tim to evoke sympathy in both the reader and Scrooge, because of his disability and his poor living conditions, and also because of his good nature towards his life, and the sufferings of other people, showing that he is not selfish despite his condition. Also, Scrooge is affected by his visit to the Cratchitt's because they seem to be a contradiction of how the poor were seen in typical Victorian times. They were mainly seen as feckless, immoral, idle and drunken, yet Tiny Tim and family are portrayed as loving, caring, moral people, which is another reason why both Scrooge and the reader react so strongly to this episode. When answering Scrooge's question on whether Tiny Tim will live, the Ghost answers with a quote that Scrooge had said to the charity workers at the beginning of the novel; 'decrease the surplus population'. This is teaching and reinforcing to Scrooge that his actions were not only wrong, but regrettable, especially after viewing the scene with Bob Cratchitt, Tiny Tim and their family. This also creates a greater impact on Scrooge because he knows they were his own, spiteful words, and shocks him into thinking he could ever say that. This also proves that he is learning the lessons of the Ghosts. When answering Scrooge, the Spirit also uses the line; 'to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust'. This line is a metaphor portraying Scrooge as an insect and the dust as the poor and hungry, like Tiny Tim, and reinforcing what Scrooge said earlier, about 'decreasing the surplus population'. This says that the population is too big and that many should die to reduce it, which is something that Scrooge now regrets saying, so has a bigger impact on his reactions to the Spectre's answer. At the end of the third stave, the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge two creatures from under his cloak. They were shaped as children, a boy and a girl, who were described as 'wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable'. ...read more.

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