A good example of such a technique is when Dickens uses both personification and humour when describing the house that Scrooge lives in. “They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again.” This is funny because the idea that it lost its way refers also to the main storyline of Scrooge not being a bad person to start with but becoming that person due to several uncontrollable factors.
Later on in the first stave, his nephew who loves Christmas and is a kind person, meets Scrooge. We know he is a good person because of the comparisons made between him and Scrooge. For example, Scrooge is shown to be a cold person, whereas Fred is shown as warm “he was all in a glow”. Also in dialogue between the two Dickens shows us that although Scrooge says from the start that Christmas is a “humbug”, Fred still continues to be cheerful and even invites his uncle to dinner. Dickens then uses repetition in the dialogue where Fred is still talking to Scrooge and Scrooge answers with “good afternoon” three times to try and get rid of his nephew. This shows the reader how mean Scrooge is, and how he is unwilling to listen or be kind, and it also shows how Fred cares for Scrooge or he would not bother to be so kind to him all the time.
This coldness of Scrooge’s character is shown again when he is talking with some charity collectors for the poor. His coldness is shown when he says that if the poor would rather dies than go to the workhouse, then “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” This statement becomes a main part of the novel as when Scrooge asks if Tiny Tim will die the Ghost of Christmas present reminds him of these words. This is because the “surplus population” is not just a figure but real individuals. Scrooge is told by the Ghost of Christmas Present to find out “What the surplus is, and Where it is” before making such statements. Dickens has made this an important point because at the time of publishing many did think of the poor in the way that Scrooge did, and so Dickens is making a moral point of trying to educate ignorant people.
Another theme, that of caring for others comes when Scrooge meets with Marley’s ghost. Marley's saying, “Business...Mankind was my business”. Where Scrooge sees business in the sense of finance and making money, Marley now understands that someone’s “business” is what people should do in life, duty or obligation to others and the world in general. Marley is trying to tell Scrooge that it is not just his duty to do this it is everyone’s. This is important because, again it is a moral message of duty to care for others. This again links in with the time when the novel was written because there were large numbers of people in poverty within London and Dickens believes that everyone has a moral duty to help them and he is trying to convey this message to the readers.
When Scrooge is talking with Marley there is important imagery used, the chains, which Marley is weighed down by, represent what he did in life, money making which weighs down his spirit with the chains. And he tells Scrooge that his chain was as long as this some seven years ago but he has “laboured on it since” so his chain is even longer. This idea, that doing things that only benefit yourself can affect you when you die, is an important point as it is aimed not only to shock Scrooge’s character but also the reader. This is because it is obviously a moral message that being selfish will make you a bad person.
Imagery is also used at the end of Stave 3, Scrooge sees under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present. There are two children, whose names show that they are to symbolise Ignorance and Want. Dickens sees that a lack of education combined with poverty makes it impossible for anyone to have a good life. Afterwards, the Ghost tells Scrooge to beware the boy “most of all” because ignorance allows poverty to continue. This is a main message within the book as it shows blatantly the vicious circle in which the poor are trapped within, which can only be relieved by the rich gaining knowledge and losing ignorance.
In the second stave Scrooge meets with The Ghost Of Christmas Past. The ghost has come to show him what Christmas used to be like for him and how he did in fact, enjoy it. He is shown a Christmas party at his place of apprenticeship. His employer Fezziwig has invited all employees to dance and eat and make merry. The Spirit senses Scrooge feels bad about something. “‘What is the matter?’ asked the Ghost.
‘Nothing particular,’ said Scrooge.
‘Something, I think?’ the Ghost insisted.
‘No,’ said Scrooge, ‘No. I should just like to be able to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That’s all.’” This shows again that although he may not be perhaps consciously changing or physically changing Dickens allows his characters moral and sensitive side to show through giving us the impression that Scrooge is becoming more empathetic and less selfish. This contrasts with how Scrooge had treated his clerk in the first stave because then he wouldn’t even let him have enough coal to keep him warm, and made him work in “the tank”. Dickens wants us to realise and see that Scrooge has changed, in that he can now see that how he was treating his clerk was cruel. This is important because the previous impression we had of Scrooge is that he would not listen to anyone.
Also when the ghost shows Scrooge the woman he was engaged to Scrooge says “Spirit.’ Said Scrooge in a broken voice, ‘remove me from this place.” He is clearly distressed here and as Dickens uses the word “Broken” it suggests that he feels regret and is almost on the verge of tears. It also suggests that he is in two minds as if he is broken in two, his two different mind-sets, he realises his mistake, but part of him does not want to admit it. It also suggests that his previous way of conducting himself has been broken and therefore he has changed.
The form of the book and the way that it has been structured has a specific effect on the reader. It breaks the book down into chunks and emphasises the point of each one. The first and last staves, act as a prologue and epilogue to show the Scrooge before and after his moral transformation. This idea is backed up by the fact that the last stave is much shorter than the other four, acting as a round off to the book leaving you to imagine the rest of Scrooges life.
In the third stave; “The second of the Three Spirits” Scrooge meets with the Spirit of Christmas Present who proceeds to show Scrooge how people are spending their Christmases. First he takes Scrooge through the town showing him the hubbub of Christmas shoppers getting food for the forthcoming day. “There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars; and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that peoples mouths might water gratis as they passed.” Dickens uses such descriptive language here to focus on how much the food means to people who cannot afford much, and also how important the meal, and Christmas generally, is to everyone. The idea of food is again a running theme as in Dickens’s time large quantities of food, as we commonly see now, were not possible during Victorian times. This was because they had no way of refrigerating food and therefore Christmas was very special in that people could feast at this one time of the year. The language he uses here is important because the way that he personifies the food shows how much attention was showed to it and we see this attention to detail at the beginning of this stave as well when the ghost is sat in a kind of throne of food.
Also when the ghost is sprinkling blessings on passing people’s food the ghost tells Scrooge that the poor are more needy than the rich which Scrooge did not realise before as he was always looking out for himself only.
Then they visit the Cratchit’s home where although they are very poor they all love each other and they have a very happy home, this contrasts with Scrooge’s home and work because although Scrooge is very rich, he is always unhappy. For example although they cannot afford a very big goose for Christmas lunch they are all very happy with it and none of them complain. Dickens especially conveys the feeling of a happy home with the use of a lot of dialogue between family members. Dickens’s use of dialogue throughout the book is very effective and attracts the reader as it seems much more realistic.
In the forth stave Scrooge meets with the Ghost of Christmas future who has come to show him what his future will be like if he does not change his ways. He is shown his colleges discussing his funeral, and is surprised to realise that none of them care for him. He is also shown a back street merchant to whom his belongings are being sold as no one looked after his house when he died. Finally he is shown that Tiny Tim has died because his family did not have enough money to support him. This stave is very important as it shows Scrooge the short-term consequences of his actions in life if he continues to live the way he is doing so now. And we see that he has fully changed by the end of the stave “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present and Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me.” This clearly shows that he now cares fully and realises the error of his ways.
This is an important part of the novel as it shows that he has changed fully, and the desperation he has at the end of stave four, makes the reader feel sorry for him. This has deliberately been done by Dickens as it shows that a character whom at the start of the story you despised, by the end of this stave you feel sorry for and hope that he does have a chance to show that he is a changed man.
Finally in the fifth stave Scrooge gets a chance to show how changed he is as he has been with the spirits only the length of one night. He gets to go and visit his nephew and he raises the salary of his clerk. This particular part, when he raises the pay of his clerk, uses humour again as it shows just how surprised Bob Cratchit is that he is receiving a pay rise, as he cowers and holds up a poker. This use of humour raises the mood of the last stave. Also we see Scrooge’s mannerisms become much different and he laughs and becomes a different person.
During the last stave the most important running theme is emphasised, that anyone can change for the better. This point is shown very clearly because Dickens creates the most horrible character he can and by the end of the book, as a reader you are inclined to like him.
The book is appealing to readers because the moral points are important and it is a very heart-warming book that makes people feel better about themselves and want to embrace the spirit of Christmas, which is what Dickens intended.