Charles Dickens was born in 1812. Charles had a very unstable upbringing. During his turbulent childhood, he and his family lived in increasing poverty. Charles has projected this onto many of his novels and works. By 1843 his work was immensely famous and popular and he was commissioned to write a series of Christmas books, one a year for five years. The first and most popular of these is A Christmas carol. Dickens used the setting and characters to show the reality of the terrible working conditions the poor endured during the Victorian period.
The opening of the novel provides the reader with some insight into the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. We begin to learn about his lifestyle, his wealth, his attitude towards his employee and his opinion of the poor. Scrooge is described as being “Scrooge ! A squeezing, wretching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner ! Hard as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out a generous fire. ” This shows what kind of person he is; a stingy man with unreasonable and uncompromisable demands.
From this quote I also get the feeling that Scrooge’s personality is one of a bitter, cold-hearted and short tempered old man with an unhealthy obsessive love for money e. g. “Clutching” emphasizes this point. Scrooge is described as being cold-hearted and unreachable “No steel had ever struck out a generous fire” This metaphor means that nobody has ever managed to make him genuinely smile with real joy. I also think that Scrooge is a secretive and lonely man with no friends “Secret, self contained, solitary as an oyster.
” I think Dickens uses the simile “solitary as an oyster” to emphasize how much of a loner scrooge is, but through his own doing as he lets no one into his life like an oyster with its thick shelf between itself and the outside world. “External had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm no. No wintry weather could chill him. ” This extract is used by Dickens to emphasize his cold-hearted nature. Thus it made no difference to him as he was always colder. From this opening I also believe that scrooge lives in a lifestyle where ignorance is truly bliss, he does not care what people think of him.
“But Scrooge care ? It was the very thing he liked. ” I think Scrooge believed that the rest of mankind don’t matter as long as he was comfortable. The novel also indicates that his life revolved around his business and wealth “Of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve – old Scrooge sat busy at his counting house. ” I believe this shows how consumed he is by his occupation and wealth, so much so that on one of the most joyous and happiest days of the year, he is at work meticulously counting his money.
The opening of the novel also tells me that not only is he wintry towards strangers but he is also harsh towards people he knows especially his clerk Bob Cratchitt who he constantly belittles “But the clerks fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal, my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family” Bob is left to face the cold. This shows how self-centered Scrooge is, Scrooge believes that by treating Bob Cratchitt as a slave instead of an employee he is doing Bob a favour. Scrooge also likes to put cratchitt in his place and reminds him quite often of his fifteen shillings a week pay packet.
I think this is used by Scrooge to show what kind of unfair power the rich had over the poor in Victorian Britain where the employee was just a faceless, worthless cog in the prejudiced social machine Victorian Britain was. From this novel I have also gathered that Scrooge also treats his only relation with contempt “What right have you to be merry, your poor enough” this epitomises Scrooges whole character. This rich, money obsessed man who belittles people for trying to be happy ad to make the best of their lives. He belittles his own flesh and blood, because he is poor but seemingly to Scrooge inexplicably happier than Scrooge himself.
I believe Scrooge is so harsh and cynical towards his nephew because he is may be jealous of him. Although Fred may be poorer Fred has found something much more valuable than mere money, true love, something which Scrooge may have let slip through his fingers sometime in the past. This novel indicates Scrooges attitude towards the poor which is as usual harsh and right wing “Are there no prisons, and the union workhouses? Nothing, I wish to be left alone, I can’t afford to make idle people merry. ” Scrooge believes the poor are lazy.
I believe these are the words of a person who’s only interested in themselves, a personality who’s first to ask What’s in it for me? I think Charles Dickens has added this element to Scrooge’s character to emphasize the dangers of greed and the plight of the poor under classes that is created by the social system of the era. As scrooge travels to his house Dickens describes his rooms in a negative tone of language to emphasize the cold and darkness. “The yard was so dark that even scrooge, who knew its every stone, was fain to grope with his hands” this tells me that it was so dark that he had to feel his way home like a blind man.