How does Charles Dickens manipulate readers feeling about Ebenezer Scrooge throughout the Christmas Carol?

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A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens (1812-70).


Q: How does Charles Dickens manipulate readers feeling about Ebenezer Scrooge throughout the Christmas Carol?



Charles Dickens is well known for his host of distinctively cruel, comic and repugnant novels; he remains the most widely read of Victorian novelists.

He was born in Portsmouth in 1812 and was the second child of a clerk in the navy pay-office.  His childhood was not a happy one. As in 1824 his father was imprisoned. Dickens got sent to work in a blacking warehouse. 

Memories of his childhood especially of this event haunted him for the rest of his life.


His parents failed to educate him.  But Dickens worked hard, building his way up to writing novels.  Before he wrote novels, he had several jobs, which were being a clerk in a solicitor’s office, then, a reporter of parliamentary debates for the Morning Chronicle.


His suffering and brutal childhood led him to write novels on social justice such as “A Christmas Carol” and “Oliver Twist”.

His novel A Christmas Carol (written in the 1843) is based on social realism. Dickens defines society ignorant and unfair towards the cause of poverty at that particular time.  He tells us how poor people were hated and looked down upon. 

Young children had to work in warehouses so that they can support their families: In “A Christmas Carol” he uses the example of Cratchit’s daughter.


In 1834, the the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed. The act stated that
no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from the Poor Law authorities except in a workhouse.
It also stated that the conditions in workhouses were to be made very harsh to discourage people from wanting to receive help.


Workhouses were the only place offered to destitute people to live in, which was often no better than a prison.  Poor people had to eat gruel at all time.  In stave one, the charity workers say that “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” This shows the state of the workhouses at the time. Wishing death rather than going to a workhouse suggests how horrible workhouses were. Life was a continuous repetition of work, sleep and funerals.  This shows that how defective and disastrous there place actually was.  Dickens is interested in this issue as he personally experienced a harsh childhood.  Due to this he intended to make us aware of the problems facing the poorest members of society.  Although there was Charity for destitute people Dickens did not think it was enough and wanted more people to realise what difficulty the destitute faced. Many rich believed that poor equals laziness. Ebenezer Scrooge (In A Christmas Carol) represents this; Dickens wants to challenge this assumption.

Dickens wrote this novel to make sure that destitute people were not looked down upon and to make society see that it was not their fault they were in this condition. 

This novel is still relevant to us today as there are still people who are ignorant about the cause of poverty.


This novel is about a man, Ebenezer Scrooge (the name Scrooge says it all; telling the audience beforehand that Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserable person), who looked down upon poor people because of his ignorance about the cause of poverty. Until one day, which was before Christmas, when three spirits visit him to change his attitude.  After these visits, Scrooge’s life changes along side with his behaviour, he becomes a really nice sympathetic person, who no longer looks down upon destitute people.


Dickens controls our emotions at the beginning of the novel, by making us dislike Scrooge.  He does this by using negative words, “the cold within him froze his features”, this shows that Scrooge is a cold-hearted man.  He is described as a “grasping”, “covetous old sinner” this shows that Scrooge is a greedy, selfish man as he is only obsessed with money; he doesn’t even let his clerk, Bob Cratchit have a piece of coal for the fire, this makes us dislike him.  We also resent Scrooge of his bad language “humbug”. 

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By the end of the novel we start to like Scrooge as his language begins to change, such as he greets people saying “hello my love” also Scrooge starts to “glow” in the end.  This is a big contrast from being described as “frozen” at the beginning of the novel. This contrast actually shows that Scrooge has changed so much that Dickens now refers to him with warm and positive adjectives.


The narrator uses a conversational and avuncular style to gain our trust and confidence, “I might have been inclined… wisdom of our ancestor…”

The use of “I”, ...

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