In ‘A Christmas carol’, how does Dickens make the reader aware of the conditions of the poor in the 19th century? In what ways does he make his message palatable? The story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is set in Charles Dickens home town of London. In the Victorian period Londoners were split in two categories, the rich and poor and the streets were filled with diseases and many poor children died at young ages. There were many big families who had small but affordable meals throughout the year, but for one day in the year they attempted to earn as much money as they could so families could have a special meal.
This day was Christmas and in my essay I am going to be describing how Dickens get across the Christmas spirit people have. Dickens knew London well and he saw all the poverty on the streets and the diseases. Dickens cared immensely about poor peoples welfare and started writing his books to help people understand the hard lives poor people had to live, to earn enough money and make enough food for their families to survive.
He hoped that someone would listen to what he had seen and change London to make the poor and rich an equal community.
Many businessmen in Dickens lifetime were making their money from the Royal Exchange. Like them Scrooge was a very wealthy businessman who is selfish and only cares for himself. Scrooge rarely spoke to people as he kept himself to himself and didn’t like expressing his feelings to other people.
He showed his attitude to people when he said, ‘every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.
He should. ‘ Businessmen were supported by their clerks who worked very hard for an amount of money that could only afford to rent a house and support a small family. This would usually be about i? 80 a year. But Bob Cratchit who worked for Scrooge as a clerk was treated even worse then most poor workers who were never treated with dignity. He was paid below the average pay for a regular poor worker, so struggled to pay for food and his family bills.
He had to work in terrible conditions, for example Scrooge looked after the coal box and wouldn’t give Cratchit clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which efforts, not being a man of strong imagination, he failed. ‘ Bob Cratchit really loved Christmas and when he applauded Scrooge’s nephew talking to Scrooge about how great Christmas was, Scrooge said, ‘Let me hear another sound from you and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.
‘ Scrooge had threatened to sack Bob Cratchit so close to Christmas and just shows how mean he was and how poorly workers were treated in Victorian times. In Dickens time workers were paid poor money but they had to rely on this income so much because if a poor person didn’t have this small amount of money they would surely have to live on the streets begging for food and would find it difficult to get another job which is why Bob Cratchit can’t argue with Scrooge’s dismal treatment of him and he just has to cope with it.
Cratchit had to work everyday in the year, except Christmas which was the one day the Cratchit family would have a proper meal with a goose and lots more treats they wouldn’t be able to afford on an ordinary day. Christmas was a day that poor people didn’t care about the expense of all the food or presents, it was a day that all families came together. The Cratchit’s all worked together to make their Christmas dinner, ‘Mrs Cratchit made the gravy, hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Mrs Belinda sweetened up the apple sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates’.
Christmas was a great day for all poor people but they all knew the next day was just another ordinary day and so they would have to go back to the usual boring diet which usually consisted of bread and potatoes but this is why the Crachit’s were so happy at Christmas as it was the one day they would have a good meal and would be very happy. In the Victorian times population in London was at its peak. This meant there were more illnesses mainly young people but it was usually only the richer families that got treatment. If a poor person got ill they wouldn’t stand much chance of surviving.