However, Dickens then describes in depth, Scrooges own house which shows the comparison between the social classes and the rich and the poor. Scrooge’s house is luxurious, and it has many expensive features compared to the poor. ‘Sitting room, Bed room, Lumber room, all as they should be’ , ‘You might have got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise’. This shows the scale of Scrooges house, most houses in the 19th century only had one or two rooms with one family living on each floor. However nowadays many people would not think his house is luxurious, people would not like to live in it, but however in Victorian times his house was what everyone wanted.
The environmental problems of London where also described in ‘a Christmas carol’, ‘it had not been light all day and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighboring officers, like muddy smears upon the palpable brown air’ , ‘the fog came pouring in at every chink and key hole’. This is a good description of the environmental problems in London. The description shows that the air was thick and polluted as London was living through a great change in history, the Industrial Revolution. Dickens also describes London as having a great cloud of smog that hangs over it all the time as the sky was thick with polluted air ‘to see the dingy cloud come drooping down.’
Dickens also describes the streets and how they were filled with crime and poverty ‘the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod ugly’. This shows that the poor were so poor that they couldn’t even afford the clothes to cover their bodies and that they quite often resorted to alcohol to try to resolve their problems. ‘Alleys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and dirt, and life, upon straggling streets; and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery.’ This is another representation Dickens describes of the state in which the streets where in. the streets where ‘dirty’ cramped and the streets ‘reeked’ of the smell of sewage.
Debt was one of the largest problems that the poor working class people of London had to face, as once a family became in debt it was very hard and almost impossible to get out of it. An example of this is shown when the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come takes Scrooge to the time when he dies. The people who owed Scrooge money where very glad as they wouldn’t be made to pay the money back, ‘to whom will our debts be transferred?’
If people became in debt in 19th century London and they where unable to pay the money back then the father of the household would be sent to a debt prison and then the wife and children where sent to work in the workhouses of London. This problem is linked to Dickens’s own life as in his childhood, his father became in debt and he could not get out of it, therefore his father was sent to prison and Charles faced the chance of being sent to a workhouse. However Dickens did not want this so he went out and worked very hard as a bank clerk and other various jobs to raise money to help support his family.
Those with little or no money often turned to crime, which became another major problem in London as people did not want to be sent to work in the workhouses, and just to pay for what they needed to stay alive. An example of this is shown again when Dickens dies and the charwomen; laundress and the undertaker all turn up a pawn shop to try to sell the possession they have taken from Scrooge to raise money for themselves as they have no respect for Scrooge. ‘Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did.’ This means that when Scrooge was alive all he was bothered about was making money and he didn’t care how he got it even if it meant overworking and mistreating people. So now he is dead they can take care of themselves just like he did.
Dickens also shows how the poor where mistreated and how there where extremely overworked for very little money. A good example of this is how Scrooge’s worker Bob Cratchit and how he had no holidays and how he had to specifically ask for time off on Christmas day ‘you’ll want all want all day to-morrow I suppose?’.
Dickens throughout his novel includes a range of different social classes that occurred in the 19th century. Each social class gave a family a place in society that made people have different reputations. The class you where in depended on many things mainly by how much money and possessions you have and sometimes your family background. These classes ranged from working class which where the poor (the Cratchit’s) to middle class (Scrooge) who where the ones who owned businesses to the higher class people such as the Lord Mayor.
The people you socialized with where, depended on your class and their class. It was very rare for people of the higher class to know and socialize with the working class. This was caused by the different attitudes people had.
The main working class family that Dickens describes about is the Cratchit’s they are very poor and they are struggling to stay out of debt and out of the workhouses. They have a son called Tiny Tim who is suffering from a long term illness but they don’t have the money care for him, in the way he should be ‘Alas for Tiny Tim he bore a crutch and his limbs supported by an iron frame.’ The clothes within the family were mainly from previous family members. On special occasions such as Christmas which is highlighted in the novel, the Cratchit’s tried there hardest to make the clothes more interesting and different. The added ribbons and buttons or extra material: ‘Cratchit’s wife dressed out but poorly in a twice turned gown, but brave in ribbons, which are cheap and make a good show for a sixpence.’
The middle class contains people such as Scrooge, Fred his nephew and Fezziwig who Scrooge previously worked as an apprenticeship for. The middle class have very different attitudes towards many different issues such as the working class. They think they have more rights than the working class and the take things for granted as the working class are always happy with what they have. The difference in classes can be found out by in the novel by the clothes they wear and the way they celebrate Christmas.
The upper class is shown in the novel mainly by what is said by Scrooge about the Lord Mayor. ‘The Lord Mayor, in the of a mighty Mansion House, gives orders to his fifty cooks and butlers.’ The words ‘stronghold’ and ‘mighty’ show the importance of the Lord Mayor in London at that time. He is clearly represented by Scrooge as being a very rich well respected man that can afford all the luxuries possible and celebrate Christmas with a huge meal.
Each family’s Christmas is different and separate and all the classes will not mix at the celebration of Christmas time. This results, in different attitudes towards each class and the attitudes people have at and about Christmas.
Scrooge is an example of a rich person living in Victorian London and he has strong views about the poor working class people. ‘I can’t afford to make to make idle people merry’ this is a typical snobbish attitude Scrooge has towards the working class people. He thinks that they ‘idle’ people who can’t be bothered to work. ‘If he be like to di, he better had to do it and decrease the surplus population,’ He also has strong views about the ‘surplus population’ and he blames the working class for its presence.
In Dickens’ novel he represents many different attitudes. The novel is mostly based on Scrooge’s attitude towards Christmas and how other people live they lives if they are rich or poor. Scrooge’s attitudes towards the poor and the working class citizens are made clear throughout the novel. However the main example of this is when Scrooge is visited by the charities who ask him for a donation to help the poor as it is Christmas time. He doesn’t give a donation as he doesn’t want to give to the poor as he believes they belong in prison or in the workhouses. ‘Are there no prisons, asked Scrooge? And the union workhouses are they still in operation?’ By saying this Scrooge is implying that the poor should be in the workhouses as they cannot afford to be out of them. This shows how tight he is with his money as he doesn’t want to help the poor. Scrooge thinks as he is happy with his financial income why should help anyone.
When Scrooge is visited by the first three ghosts he thinks that he will not change as he did not believe what was happening was true and so Scrooge remained stubborn. However his reformation by the last ghost changes his attitudes completely. He then realizes where he has gone wrong and decides to help Tiny Tim. His reformation is cause when the last ghost shows him his death and funeral. As the people that knew Scrooge celebrated his death ‘I don’t mind going if a lunch is provided, but I must be fed’ Illustrating that Scrooges friend only wanted to go to his funeral if they gained from it.
The different attitude Dickens shows is the attitude the Cratchit’s had toward life and Christmas especially. As the Cratchit’s are very poor they have to settle for what they can get and they always make the most of it. ‘A Merry Christmas to us all my dears. God Bless us!’ when Scrooge is shown this scene with the ghost he is then suddenly concerned about the health of Tiny Tim, ‘sprit’ said scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, ‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live’
Throughout the novel Dickens also focuses on the celebration of Christmas. How people celebrated Christmas in 19th century London depended mainly on your class and how much money your family had and what religious believes you believed in.
The main representation of Christmas time for the working classes is when Dickens describes the Cratchit’s Christmas meal and how they spent Christmas. The Cratchit’s Christmas meal was nothing compared to what the middle and upper class had, but whatever the Cratchit’s settled for what they could get for the money they had. They had one small Christmas pudding that they shared between six children and two adults. However the Cratchit’s where very appreciative a lot more than the other classes as they took what they had for granted.
Scrooge particularly despises Christmas as he views it as 'a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer' and he does not believe in giving or supporting any charities and he does not believe in goodwill. This is suggested in many different things Scrooge says in the novel. ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen!’, ‘Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror.’ This was said by Scrooge when he was visited by the carol singers, it shows how much anger and hate Scrooge has towards Christmas and those who celebrated it.
In conclusion, the image that one is left with from Dickens is a very depressing one, one of dark, smelly, and polluted streets. Images of poverty and hardship, and a society that cared little for the welfare of others, where if you had money you could live comfortably, but if you did not life was very tough. It is not a place where, I feel, anyone today would like to live.