Consider Dickens’s portrayal of Scrooge’s change in attitude in a “Christmas Carol” What message do you feel Dickens Conveys to the reader.
The essay will discuss the moral messages, which can be interpreted in the novel. It will examine the main character Scrooge, and his attitude towards life, his mean, grumpy and selfish character and his lack of Christian charity. It will explain the transformation of Scrooge and why the transformation occurred.
Scrooge's mean attitude was demonstrated when he said to his nephew,
“What right have you to be Merry? You're poor enough"
This is the first indication that Scrooge was not in the Christmas spirit as he was not joyful. This is also an indication that Scrooge was greedy and mean with his money. He thought that you can only be merry by becoming wealthier.
"… Christmas time… time for paying bills without money… and not an hour richer"
This quotation enforced the comment that Scrooge was not in the Christmas Spirit. It also tells us Scrooge was worried about paying bills and making money and becoming richer.
Scrooge's lack of Christian charity was visible when two charity workers asked for donations and Scrooge refused. Scrooge said,
“Are there no prisons…workhouses?"
“I can't afford to make idle people merry"
These two quotations refer to poor people; Scrooge did not have any compassion towards these poor people. He called them idle people, which re-enforced his lack of Christian spirit. It also shows that Scrooge is not a true Christian as true Christians give money to charity. Scrooge is angry with poor people for no apparent reason and said that they should die and
“Decrease the surplus population"
These quotations show Scrooge was greedy he wanted fewer people on earth so he can have more money. This again shows that he had no feelings for poor people, as his business will only appeal to wealthy people.
Scrooge was cruel and heartless and did not allow others to celebrate Christmas. He said,
“A poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every twenty-fifth December!"
He was extremely insensitive and cold-hearted he became furious when his clerk asks him for a day off on Christmas Day. He ignored his nephew when he said,
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"Merry Christmas Uncle"
As this demonstrated he wanted everyone to be miserable at Christmas and did not allow his clerk and nephew to celebrate Christmas in the traditional way by being merry and enjoying Christmas. Bob Cratchit was probably on low wages because Scrooge was tight with his money. He also told him to come to work early the next day.
Later in the novel Marley's face appears on his doorknocker. This could show that Scrooge does care about Marley as he looked behind him when he goes into his house. It is visible in the house, that Scrooge was very strict with his money and did not spend it on himself. The outlook of his house was dull. This quotation illustrated this
“It was old enough, dreary enough, for nobody but Scrooge"
The inside of his house was also dull and dark and was like nobody lived in it. He had splinters on his staircase and it was dark and dull, which was very similar to Scrooge’s character. He had a “heavy door" which again shows he did not spend any money on his house. He was very conscientious about his fuel as he only used a handful so only a small amount of heat was generated. His fireplace was old and the tiles were "disjointed" Scrooge did not spend any money on his food either as he had a meagre meal. He had gruel and this sort of meal was associated with poor people. There was irony as he disliked poor people yet behaved as though he is underprivileged. He could afford it but was parsimonious with almost everything including food, utilities and repairing damaged parts of his house. The moral issues in this section of the novel are not to behave in the manner Scrooge is behaving. This was to give money to charity and spend your money wisely and on the necessities and essentials in life. The other message was to be happy at Christmas and celebrate the birth of Christ.
The appearance of Marley's ghost was to frighten Scrooge and offer him chance to change his wicked ways. Marley tried to shock people that doing sinful acts causes bad consequences in the afterlife. The ghost had links on his arm; they represented the sins that Marley is trying to make Scrooge realise. Scrooge however, is given a chance in the novel because of Marley's ghost. The novel was trying to exemplify that in real-life you do not get a chance so change your ways as soon as possible. The appearance of Marley's ghost is also very entertaining as ghosts and spirits are interesting as they are fictitious and very rarely are there sightings in reality. Marley also said how people should behave in life, as a ghost is entertaining, the moral message could reach many people.
“The common welfare… charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence"
These are reference to how humans should behave in this life. Scrooge's attitude towards the ghost was relaxed and thought the ghost has no relevance to him. He asked a question
“Could I take'em all at once and have it over with"
This showed that he was still worried about his business; as he does not want to lose time focusing on it. Dickens introduced humour into the novel as it is a time when the reader least expects Scrooge to show a relaxed attitude.
The ghost of Christmas Past tried to demonstrate to Scrooge and the reader that Scrooge had transformed and was not always monotonous and ill tempered. The first time in the novel Scrooge was laughing when shown "Ali Baba". This showed that Scrooge did have another side to him. The spirit also hinted to Scrooge that Scrooge had transformed into a grumpy man. It seemed Scrooge had forgotten what he was like when he was younger. The spirit said,
“…Strange to have forgotten it"
Scrooge regretted the things he had done in life. The moral message is that it is not too late to change your ways as God is forgiving. Scrooge regretted what he had done in the past when he said,
“…A boy singing Christmas Carol…I should have given him something."
The moral message here was that it was all right to regret because you know you have done wrong and you have learnt from your mistakes. The same message was trying to be illustrated and this was to love the young and be generous to them and give money for good deeds. The First Spirit showed Scrooge, his sister, Scrooge remembered the happy times and the spirit was trying to see if this made Scrooge regret his mean attitude towards his nephew. The moral message in this section was to love your family and protect your children. Scrooge when shown his ex-employer Fezziwig, was quite excited by seeing him. Fezziwig allowed him to party on Christmas Eve. Scrooge again regretted what he has done when he said,
“I should be able to say a word or two to my clerk now"
It can be seen that Scrooge did once love and did actually have a love life. Scrooge was distraught when he saw his former partner married to another man and this shows he regretted not marrying her. Later The Cratchits was shown where they celebrated Christmas properly. The ghost is giving another moral message he is telling Scrooge and reader the correct way Christians should behave. It was possible interpret a moral message from each scene. Scrooge is shown. He was also saying that you should not be how Scrooge is at present. Again, there is always a chance to change your ways. In real-life people probably fantasized about turning the clock back if they could change their ways. You only have one chance which you should take in this life, otherwise later you may have to face the consequences.
The ghost of Christmas past shows a moral message: other people having a Merry Christmas. It reiterates the point that we should give money to charity and to the poor, as they need it most. It does not matter what sort of person you are you should go to Church and remember the reason why Christmas is celebrated in first place. The ghost takes Scrooge to the Cratchits and shows him how to be Merry at Christmas. The moral message was to have special treats at Christmas spend money freely but wisely and maintain a happy atmosphere. There was a moral message when Scrooge saw Tiny Tim you should be compassionate to less fortunate people. Scrooge was also showing compassion and showed that he cared when he said “Tell me if Tiny Tim will live." The Ghost repeated what Scrooge said earlier that we should decrease the surplus population. Scrooge also realised that he had made a mistake in the way he handled things with his nephew. Later in another scene the ghost said, “The boy is ignorance and the girl is Want". He was speaking of the realities in Victorian SOCIETY.
Other moral messages were to be thoughtful of others because they are your friends and neighbours even if you are not talking to them. This section is very entertaining as you are allowed to find out other people's true feelings towards you.
The third Spirit shows him what will happen if he continued in this manner the opinions of him. A man said, “I thought he'd never die" It shows if you are mean to others you will expect the same back. There are some people discussing the death of Scrooge and deciding what clothes to put on him. These choose some horrible one it showed nobody cared for him as he did not care for anybody else. The spirit showed Scrooge his grave and Tiny Tim. This was to shock Scrooge and show him the consequences if carries on the way he has. Scrooge shows hope when he said
“I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life"
This is the appearance of the ghost and the ways Scrooge could look into the future. Scrooge was given a chance and he does finally take. This is evident in the ways he behaves after the Ghost of the Future. He complimented a boy and said “What a delightful boy!" This was very rare for Scrooge to be kind to children. He also becomes in the Christmas Spirit as he asks a child to bring turkey. Scrooge also went to see Fred where he brought joy and happiness. He helped the struggling Cratchits and Tiny Tim did no die showing charity and compassion. These were all the qualities, which was not visible at the beginning of the novel. It showed that he had transformed into a kind and loving man. The moral message is to be inspired by Scrooge's transformation and try to transform you into the 'new' Scrooge. Dickens tries to encourage people to educate the poor; he is trying to show the effects if we do not help the poor.
'A Christmas Carol' is undoubtedly a moral novel. This was visible in many parts of the novel. There are both indirect and direct moral messages. The why many people find it moralistic. Many people in the world can relate to issues discussed in the novel. These include greed, not donating to charity, helping poor and needy, regret, compassion, Scrooge was given a chance but many in reality will not be given one The novel changes from telling how not to behave but also tells them how to behave through the character of Scrooge.
Alex Trofimov Page