In this essay, I will analyze how the main protagonist in A Christmas Carol transforms from being a mean and spiteful character, to the generous man at the end. Charles Dickens set the novella at Christmas time in the 19th Century. I will analyze the language he used, the atmosphere and the tone of his writing, when portraying the characters in a time of terrible poverty. Then I will also be evaluating the style and form of the story, the use of imagery and how I think the imagery might help me with the understanding of the story and characters. Finally, analyzing the social, historical and cultural features which are implicit and explicit within the text, and summarizing how relevant the issues raised in ‘A Christmas Carol’ are present in today’s multicultural society.
Introducing the main protagonist “Ebenezer Scrooge” - “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone...a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scarping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint.” (p2). Scrooge was a man who had no sympathy for anyone or anything. ‘‘Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said’’(pg3). He was so greedy, that if his employee Bob Crachit wanted more money he would have to work for Christmas day. He had no regards for Christmas and anyone who believe in it and enjoyed it with their families. He was just a miserly old man, who believed that Christmas was just an excuse for people who wanted to miss work and for idle people to expect handouts. Jacob Marley, was Scrooge’s business partner and the first to visit him with ‘‘No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse’’ (p15). Marley wanted to warn him to stop living his life in an unchristian way; otherwise he will have to spend his death after life paying for what he has done on earth. He told Scrooge that three spirits would visit him that night and it would be, his only chance of salvation. The ghost of Christmas past came to show him, a lonely childhood, neglected by his father and friends, his beloved sister. Also how his passion for money affected his love for Belle, which becomes the first step towards his transformation. The next day the Ghost of Christmas present came to give Scrooge another perception of Christmas, spending time at Christmas with family regardless of a lack of money, or even a medical issue. They wanted him to understand that having the family around, someone who cares or love you, is better to have than living a selfishness and lonely life. ‘‘Don’t be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us to-morrow.’’(p5). Then The last Ghost of Christmas Yet to come, who came to conclude his transformation, by the vision of Tiny Tim, who seems to be a symbol of hope and a key to changing Scrooge’s character. “‘‘Spirit,’’ said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before, ‘‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live (p44).’’ This had an impact on Scrooge, as he promises to change his perception of life, shown among the society around him and in his consideration of joining his nephew for Christmas dinner, or to care for Crachit’s family. Through seeing his life in these three periods, Scrooge can see both the causes of his character formation along with it’s effect on others and himself. It is like viewing himself in a mirror at first and although painful, initially he is quite content. “What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done him?” (p22) But as it comes to the end of the past and the present he see’s more clearly the impact on those around him and feels much more of his own grief and loss. ‘” The school is not quite deserted” said the ghost “ A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.” Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed’.(p22 – 3). Seeing his eventual loneliness and how much people hate him makes him realize that he has been selfish himself obtaining wealth, but has lost his soul, all that he has longed for has gone. ‘”I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s” said Mrs Cratchitt, “not for his.”’ (p45). Yet he see’s it again in the joy of a little crippled boy at celebrating a humble Christmas with his family and the loss of tiny Tim, shown by the last of the Spirits. ‘”I wish you could have gone. It would have done you good to see how green a place it is. But, you’ll see it often. I promised him that I would there on a Sunday. My little, little child” cried Bob’ This was what brought the change, as deep down he wanted to be loved and accepted for just being who he was, with no anger, hurt or bitterness. This is a lesson as relevant for people today as it was when written.
Dickens uses a variety of language to enable the reader to build up an opinion of rage and frustration about Scrooge’s personality, at the very beginning of the story. He uses repetitive rhythmic negative verbs and imitative phrases to underline the harshness, miserliness, and negativity of Scrooge's nature. Even the Clerk has almost begged for one day off paid. ‘‘A pour excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!’’ said Scrooge, buttoning his great- coat to the chin, ‘‘ But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.’’(p8). The language in dickens’ time is slightly different from these days from example they use ‘‘Ill’’ to mark some expressions. ‘‘And yet,’’ said Scrooge, ‘‘you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.’’(p8). The novella uses similes such as ‘Hard and sharp as flint’ (p2) and the metaphorical like ‘The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.’(p2). The story has been well constructed and can affect generations, as the main auras of the different characters mean people can relate to, such as, sarcastic ‘‘I wonder you don’t go into parliament.’’(p5) or funny ‘‘why do you doubt your senses?’’ Because, said Scrooge, ‘‘a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats”.
When you first read The Christmas Carol, you can picture in your mind, what is going to happen. For an earlier age, the imagery in the novel is quite frightening you can see and feel yourself transported through the story when left to an open imagination. It is clearly needed to follow this novella. In an example of the imagery (p37), we see Scrooge frightened in front of the Ghost. ‘‘’I am the Ghost of Christmas Present’, said the spirit “look upon me!’’ ‘‘Scrooge reverently did so’’ (p37). Every stage in the novel traces precisely all these images. From Marley’s ghost, to all the people Scrooge come across in the images, gave me an idea of third dimension to the novel. We can imagine the impact the novella had, when it came out in the Victorian times.
Charles Dickens, a writer in the 19th century, seems to appear as a hero in his novella, as he highlights the life of the poor, and their disadvantages. He uses Scrooge to show the disregard that the rich and powerful men used to hold for the poor, at this time. People were not in a decent living conditions as we get nowadays, but they could live on the street or in workhouses. “And the union workhouses?” Demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?’’ He also kept the story by highlighting cultural features, such as the language. “The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his wais...