The novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ describes the story of a man who has spent his entire life as a grumpy old “Humbug”. However this all changes when he is visited by three ghosts, each of these depict a different stage in his life [past, present and future]. This long and frightful journey unravels many emotions which in turn overhaul this snobbish, tight-fisted character into a glowing, joyous human being. This is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. In Stave 1 Scrooge despised Christmas.
Even the people who celebrate Christmas got on his nerves. On the other hand a young boy named Fred – Scrooges nephew, happens to adore Christmas, and was riveted by the knowledge of jolly old St Nick’s arrival. And even though his funds for the holidays were pitiably low, he was still on the high horse and determined to make Christmas that year the most fabulous and ostentatious as possible. However, this sensational enthusiasm didn’t shine through to Scrooges dead, bitter cold and rather pathetic excuse for a heart.
Scrooge’s idea of Christmas was not of a feast fit for a king lavishing with flavour laid upon a tremendous table in which everybody would sit head high in presents – each one bringing joy and galore. And laying its eyes down upon the ecstatic party is the all important fairy perched high atop the tinsel smothered, bauble covered Christmas tree as the roar of the fire bathes the room in a radiant glow. Instead, Scrooge would spend his Christmas alone, masked in the forever cold, forever forgotten abyss.
With nothing to look forward to but a small saucepan of gruel and a early night, Scrooge spends this day more miserable than any other day as he embraces the season to be jolly. As I’m assured, you can see the difference between Scrooge and his dear nephew. And because opposites repel, Scrooge and Fred inevitably argued over the factor of happiness and the ‘delights’ of Christmas. Here is an extract from page 9 “… ‘what reason do you have to be happy? You’re poor enough’… “. This not only shows how Scrooge hates the idea of Christmas and everybody being merry and cheerful, but it also begins to show how Scrooge is tight with his money.
The fact that he knows Fred is struggling to make ends meat and yet he still doesn’t give any of his money to him. It’s not as if Scrooge himself was poor. Being a lonesome owner of a fully economically efficient business – paying minimum wage to all his workers and providing practically no holidays, and being tight with his cash for umpteen years has provided Scrooge with an exceeding amount of wealth! But even after this act of infinite greed and bitterness, Fred seems unscathed by the outcome and replies with protruding wit “… ‘what right do you have to be morose?
You’re rich enough’… “. A more distinct example of Scrooges unwillingness to part with his cash is when the charity collectors arrive to attempt to ignite the fires of generosity within Scrooge and extract some of his money. “… ‘It is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provisions for the poor’… “. Scrooge retorts with “… ‘Are there no prisons? ‘… ” this speaks for itself. Scrooge doesn’t care about anyone other that himself. Even if that means that the innocent underprivileged people of the world will suffer in work houses.
These places force the poor to work their fingers to the bone and then crush their bones to dust. Repetitive, agonising tasks that nobody else would want to do even if paid, is mandatory labour set upon the less fortunate. And the living quarters would be deeply frowned upon today, because all the poor would be packed into a room and sleep wherever there was space on the floor. They wouldn’t even be able to see their own family. An eternity in hell is still considered better, simply because you aren’t being punished for sins, but for status.
And you are being condemned to this by your own kind! The fact that Scrooge knows this and still refuses to help just shows how cruel he is and how money is a major part of his life and seems to control his actions – doesn’t use heating in winter, sacrifices anything to earn him petty cash. His view upon the poor is of them being lazy for not doing any work; this of course is not true as we already know that many were shipped off to work houses. Scrooge is very nai?? ve in the respect that he believes everybody can be rich.
He did it, so why can’t everyone else? This of course was impossible for the average person to achieve, because in them days there were no child benefit or scholarships so you had to come from a rich family in the first place to attend a good school to get you a good job; with a decent salary. And if the rich were anything like Scrooge and not give out their money, the society today would be very different. The poor would be much poorer and the rich would be on cloud nine, with not a care in the world, burning their money to fuel their greed.
This scenario is similar to that of Bob Cratchit, who had to barter with Scrooge to receive a Christmas holiday which he was entitled to in the first place. And even still, it was just one day of celebration. It is very unfair for Scrooge to take out his own personal anger for Christmas on his clerk. “… ‘ And yet’, said Scrooge,’ you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work’… ” Thankfully, this hasn’t happened because of generous individuals pouring money into the empty pockets of the ever grateful poverty-stricken individuals. But obviously Scrooge is still not enlightened and continues with his bad ways.
And all these bad ways reflect upon his physical appearance; because he does such hideous and nasty things, he himself is a hideous nasty thing. “… ‘nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue’… ” These are good examples oh how Scrooge doesn’t seem to be a very nice person to be around or be friends with. This fact is directly told to the reader in the novel “Nobody ever stopped him on the street to say, with gladsome looks, ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me? ‘…
Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways… “. This shows that other people view Scrooge exactly how he has been analysed previously. People are in fearing knowledge that Scrooge will just be his usual self: stubborn, rude and hostile. This pre-conception triggers a response in the persons mind to stay away. If Scrooge wants to be alone, so be it. This is purposely done to put the reader off from liking the character and puts the reader into an awkward position as they are usually faced with a book that contains a situation or character that they can relate to.
It is hard to do this with Scrooge’s character because he is everything you don’t want to be, and I’m sure you’d rather be friends with Fred. But even if you wanted to be friends with Scrooge, you wouldn’t get a chance because he is very temperamental and prefers to be alone which is supported with “… ‘You wish to be anonymous’ ‘I wish to be left alone,’ said Scrooge ‘since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I can’t afford to make idle people merry’… “. This quote strengthens the idea of Scrooge being selfish and incoherently barbaric in his idea that work houses are decent.
However this approach conducted by Dickens seems to have worked very well because the reader gets to follows the story of Ebenezer and see the changes stave by stave. The reader also starts understanding some reasons why Scrooge is so inhospitable towards love and Christmas. We now that when all the other children went home for their Christmas holidays, Scrooge was forced to stay behind. And his only love vanished from his life. In the final part of stave 1 the ghost of Marley – Scrooges old business partner, appears in place of Scrooges door knocker.
This spooked out Ebenezer so much “… he walked through all his rooms to see that all was right… ” and then he “… locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom… “. For the first time, we see Scrooge expressing emotion and anxiety because he saw a glimpse of his former business partner and only friend. But he wasn’t going to block out Marley that easily. “I know him; Marley’s Ghost! “, at acquaintance with the spectre Scrooge primarily passes it off as “… ‘an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato’… in fear of insanity seeping into him.
However instead of insanity setting in, the ghost Jacob Marley was genuinely visiting the tenacious Scrooge. “… ‘In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley’… ” The words spoken from beyond the grave consume Scrooge and start him of onto the path he should have taken a long time ago. Scrooge is foretold of the three ghosts that await him. “… ‘Without their visits,’ said the ghost, ‘you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. ‘… ” We leave this stave with Scrooge in a deep sleep, anticipating his destiny of amendment.
The opening to any book is arguably the most important part, as it has to hook the reader with a small section of writing into continuing to read the story and the author hasn’t fallen short on this occasion. The book starts strangely with “Marley was dead” which although seems rather bizarre, it grabs the reader’s attention and sidetracks their thoughts to trying to understand; who is Marley? How did he die? Why is he dead? What is the relevance of this information? However the fact that someone has died [fictional, but nonetheless] the author is in fret to conjure up a few quirky jokes. “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind…
A might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadiest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the similie; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or our country’s done for. You will then permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail”. This is a good example of how Dickens finds humour in even in a persons death – even if the joke isn’t really that funny, it still lightens up the mood and by adding this paragraph to the story just emphasised Marley’s death so that the appearance of the ghost later on adds a more eerie aura to the epic saga.
Because Scrooge knows that Marley is dead for sure, the whole incident sparks of a whole chain reaction, before he didn’t care what others thought, wasn’t scared of anything and believed in nothing [even love]. But after seeing Marley’s faced envisaged into his door knocker, Scrooge became afraid and looked all around his house – every room and even under the beds! After all the nasty things Scrooge has done, it is amusing to see him put into this situation and revenge taking place. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Scrooge’s reaction to the ghost of Marley surely is a humorous one.
The first ghost to visit was ghost of Christmas past. Its appearance is rather peculiar “It was a strange figure – like a child: yet not so like a child as an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle on it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands were the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength.
Its legs and feet, most delectably formed, were, like strength those upper members bare. ” This strange description carries on for quite a while, but from what we’ve seen so far the ghost is very strong. It most likely uses this strength to hold on to Scrooges past that he himself tries to forget. She looks old because she is Scrooges past, and Scrooge himself is old, therefore she looks old. But she looks young because the young are often looked upon as innocent, which may suggest Scrooge used to be nice.
The scene I want to talk about is that at Fezziwig’s party. “During this whole time, Scrooge had acted like a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. ” This visit unveils the true Scrooge that actually enjoys things and knows how to have fun. Scrooge gets so caught up in the moment he even forgot the ghost was there. This definitely shows us that Ebenezer Scrooge once had a heart. The Second ghost visiting Scrooge was that of Christmas present. Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam.
In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping round the door. This description beautifully shows us the shear amount of food there is. And the representation of the 2nd ghost is quite intriguing. “It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles.
Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. ” This ghost takes Scrooge to many places, and in each place people still celebrates Christmas. Scrooge is also shown how unpopular he really is when people make fun of him at a party. The final ghost, the ghost of Christmas yet to come is a very dark and mysterious character. “… ‘Lead on! ‘ said Scrooge. ‘Lead on!
The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit! ‘… ” this is different from how we saw Scrooge in the sense that at first he was scared by his own business partner Marley, and now he is talking confidently to a ultra scary ghost. Unlike the previous two, this phantom seems to drain all happiness from its surroundings. It shows Scrooges grave stone covered in rubbish and moss. And then he see’s Tiny Tim’s grave stone immaculate and clean. And to round things off, Scrooge is shown businessman laughing over a dead man [obviously himself].
He moves on to see all his belongings on sale at market. … ‘If he wanted to keep them after he was dead, a wicked old screw,’ pursued the woman, ‘why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, alone by himself. ‘… “. This gives Scrooge an even better view of people’s opinions of him, because now that he’s dead they aren’t afraid to speak their mind. It also is different from stave 1 because then people were scared just by the very presence of Scrooge. And because they think Scrooge deserves all his things being stolen from him.
The final scene shows Scrooge looking at his own grave. This hammers home the idea that if Scrooge carries on with his bad ways he’ll be remembered as the selfish man he is. His conscience is as filthy as his grave. “… ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone! ‘… “. Stave 5 ends the novel with applauded content. Scrooge has been liberated from his wicked ways of malevolence.
His pleasant counterpart has been salvaged from his mercilessness exterior. “… ‘I don’t know what day of the month it is. ‘ said Scrooge. ‘I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here! ‘… “. This act of unconcern and rather giddiness has pushed the boundaries that held people back from even being on the same sidewalk as Scrooge. Now his act of blissfulness is being extended to others in the environs of him. He now abides by the knowledge “Treat others as you would like to be treated”.
His life of cruelty and indecency has therefore revoked his right to be treated with the courteous ways in which he cease’s to yield. However this encounter of ethereal events has cast him to the path of righteousness. “Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious! ” These weather conditions deeply contrast those unambiguously dramatic circumstances revealed in stave 1. “Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold.
If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evel Spirit’s nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose. ” This is another way in which the author lightens the ambience. “He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat. ” That just shows how people genuinely can’t believe that Scrooge has changed and that instead he has just gone insane, which was ironically Scrooges thought as he first laid eyes upon the spirit of his former business partner, Jacob Marley.
At the end of the novel, Scrooge discovers his new passion for Christmas and understands how his ways of skimping on money and overall cruelty has hauled others around him into a descending spiral of misery. And in utter contrast to his former self – “Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror. ” into a happy and grateful for everything kind of person – “… ‘It’s Christmas Day! ‘ said Scrooge to himself. ‘I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night.
They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow! ‘… “. The novel ends with a perpetual sense of being and archetypal joy. “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! ” In conclusion, I believe this novel was written to not only show the inequality of treatment throughout society – forced labour in work houses for poor, slave wages, but also to show that people like Scrooge are not overly popular and won’t live a good life. Moreover, it is never too late to change your ways.