What are the moral lessons Dickens wished to convey in A Christmas Carol and how effectively does he convey them?
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic Christmas story which contains stern moral lessons, written in 1843. These lessons are designed to make the readers of that time, the Victorians, conscience of the injustices that were present in the rapidly expanding cities of Britain, due to the Industrial Revolution. The story includes three morals, demonstrated by the three Ghosts of Past, Present and Future, which attempt to convert the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, from his greedy ways. The morals of this novella, as a result, which was originally written to communicate with the Victorians, is just as relevant today, which contributes to the book’s label as a “classic”. Dickens uses a variety of techniques to convey his morals to the audience effectively.
Dickens conveys that the rich have a responsibility to help the poor by depicting them in a very sympathetic manner. This is shown in the middle of Stave 3, where the Cratchet family try to remain merry despite being struck by reduced privileges when Dickens narrates: “even Tiny Tim … beat on the table with the handle of the knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!” The spirits remain high despite the fact that they are poor, as shown by the words ‘even’ and ‘feebly’, which create sympathy because they try to remain upbeat even at times when they are less fortunate than others. One of Dickens’ messages in A Christmas Carol is that the rich have a responsibility to help relieve the suffering of the poor. Dickens was taken out of school at a young age to work in a filthy warehouse by force, therefore he knows by experience what it is like to work and be poor at a very young age. This past experience inspired him to write A Christmas Carol in a way to express a message that rich people can use their money to donate to the suffering of the poor. One of the crude ways of which the wealthy ignore the deprived is evident in the middle of Stave 1, whence the Lord Mayor fines the little tailor when Dickens narrates: “even the little tailor, whom he had fined five shillings … for being drunk and thirsty on the streets”. This gives us the impression that rich people ill-treat poorer people and, in this example, the Lord Mayor fines the tailor for being drunk, at a time when he should be drinking as well at his Christmas ‘feast’.
Dickens displays the need to compensate the poor in A Christmas Carol near the middle of Stave 1 when the charity gentleman offered Scrooge the chance to donate a sum of money to the poor. Near the middle of Stave 1, the charity gentleman appears after Scrooge’s nephew leaves his counting-house and requests for a donation when he says: “At this festive season … we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute … Many thousands are in need of common necessaries”. This displays how the charity worker emphasises the duty of the rich by making the poor sound bad, as shown by the words ‘destitute’ and ‘necessaries’, which convey how the poor are less well-off than the rich.
Furthermore, Dickens demonstrates that love of money alienates people from others. This is shown at the beginning of Stave 1, where Dickens displays Scrooge’s vicious behaviour as a ‘tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scarping, clutching, covetous old sinner!’ The use of a list emphasises the extent of Scrooge’s alienation of other people. The fact that each word ends in “ing” conveys Dickens’ growth in anger at the prospect of this man, until he uses a plosive in “sinner” to conclude his hatred of such a figure. Dickens further describes Scrooge’s alienation of people by displaying the obvious hatred of his close relatives. He does this in the refusal of his nephew’s invitation and dismissal of marriage. Near the beginning of Stave 1, Scrooge rejects the idea of festive celebration when he says: ‘Nephew... keep...
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