Ignorance & want plays a large role in A Christmas Carol & works aside religious imagery to convey the author’s message. Present throughout the novel, the theme of ignorance & want is crucial to completing Dickens aim : changing the mindsets of the wealthy & privileged in Victorian Britain.
The above-mentioned theme is particularly present in Stave 3 of the novel.
In Stave 3, Dickens uses lists of adjectives to present ignorance & want in a hyperbolic manner.
He describes the children (Ignorance & Want) as wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable and yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish .
In this way, Dickens affirms the extreme ugliness & unappealing nature of ignorance & want, and shows that he intends for the reader to perceive these attributes in a negative light. This depicts the novels adherence to its purpose : to impact readers and wider society. As a social novel, A Christmas Carols inherent purpose is to evoke emotions within a reader, which cause self reflection.
Furthermore, Dickens utilizes anaphora to display ignorance & want in the extract.
No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity is a phrase in which such repetition is present. Anaphora is the repetition of a certain phrase at the beginning of a clause or sentence, and appeals to readers emotions by highlighting an aspect of a description ( in this case, no is the anaphora). It emphasises the hideous identity of ignorance and greed & makes the imagery more memorable , so that readers can revise the moral of the novel, which is to treat the poor better. In particular, the phrase perversion of humanity suggests an inhuman creature is being described.
In reality, Dickens defines cruel personality traits that humans portray, ensuing self reflection in audiences.
In Stave 3, the author uses an allegory to illustrate ignorance and want. This idea is presented in the lines: This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.. Allegories are used to make narratives multidimensional and meaningful, and have ideas that merge with ideas in our literal world. Dickens plain statement of the identities of these children makes it clear that he has an clear message to convey. This is the purpose of a social novel, of which A Christmas Carol is one ; to introduce ideas that make readers hyper-aware of their behaviour, and thus have an impact on wider society. Ignorance and Want are personified traits whose characters are portrayed almost like poverty-stricken children who are malnourished. In this manner, Dickens holds (Victorian) readers responsible for societys abandonment of the poor and the consequences of that abandonment. As a strong advocate for childrens rights, Dickens chooses to represent these traits as children, as readers tend to have more sympathy towards children than adults. Dickens shames the ignorant and lustful wealthy of Victorian Britain and encourage others to be generous to the downtrodden.
In the novel as a whole, ignorance and want is displayed as a recurring theme too.
In Stave Two (pg 73), dialogue is used to depict Scrooges ignorance. This is evident in the line:
Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?. This is a reference to Scrooges former self, as the Ghost of Christmas Present echoes him to serve as a reminder of his ignorance ; this evokes regret within Scrooge and encourages him to repent and reform himself. As readers, it can be interpreted that, in this case, the spirit becomes a mouthpiece for Dickens ideas ; this is an indirect way for Dickens to encourage others to reform their own cruel or untenable traits.
Moreover, point of view functions as a technique to represent ill-will and selfishness. This is demonstrated in the lines:
There are some on this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.. The Ghost serves as a medium for Dickens, who shames those who sin in the name of religion in Victorian society. His words encourage others to judge morality by the action , not by how the man doing the actions decides whether his actions are correct or not. The use of religious imagery both here and throughout the novel evokes constant guilt within readers, to convey Dickens message . The listing of traits such as ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness add emphasis to connotations of sin.
Dickens uses symbolism throughout the novel to exhibit ignorance and want in society. One of the most initial examples comes from the line : The chain he drew was clasped about his middle it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. The quote derives from Scrooges meeting with Marleys ghost, and signifies the impact of cruelty to those who are poverty-stricken. Marleys appearance offers double levels of meaning – he carries chains physically, as well as spiritually, as a result of his neglect of others and lack of generosity. This scene depicts consequence of ignorance & want and begins Scrooges journey of repentance. As is frequently understood, Dickens intends for others to be considerate towards others and in particular the poor.
The recurrence of the presentation of ignorance & want evokes sympathy & guilt within readers, and proved effective in a time where Dickens target audience were the middle-upperclassmen, who believed that the poor deserved destitute conditions and no help at all, as it was the will of God. These were people who invested in institutes like workhouses & prisons as punishments for the poor, for being poor. This allegory is present in A Christmas Carol. Despite the contrast between societal values then & now, the morals encouraged by the book are applicable as ever, and the journey of repentance from greed is one we can all endeavour to take on.