I read and studied “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Dickens was born on the 7th of February 1812 at Portsea in Hampshire. He had eight brothers and sisters who all lived with their parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens worked in a series of different places and had to constantly move houses to avoid paying his debts. However, these were probably the high points of Charles’ childhood as they were soon shipped back to London where his father’s debts became worse. Charles had to leave school early and work to try and help his dad’s financial problems.
Nevertheless, John Dickens was arrested and sent to Marshalsea, a prison for debtors, and soon after, the rest of the family followed him. As John’s mother died in 1824, they were released from prison but spent the rest of their lives worrying about returning there. Charles resumed his school education and achieved the role of a clerk for a solicitor. Charles started his writing career by publishing short stories in local magazines and newspapers. It wasn’t until the 1840s that he started writing “A Christmas Carol”.
During this time, the area in which he lived was polluted with poverty. This was also the time when new laws were enforced to provide better living conditions for children. Among these laws, was one, which made education obligatory for children under 13. According to this law, every child under 13 must attend school for at least two hours a day. Even though circumstances were improving for children, they were not for workers. London, the capital of England, lacked housing and sewage amenities. The surplus population was not helping either.
This was due to people moving to cities from the countryside in search of work. It was not a nice era to live in, but it gave Dickens inspiration, which is shown in his work; in “A Christmas Carol”, the poverty is shown on the streets: “… some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered… ” Charles Dickens has tried to show us how it was to live in those dark days and so has used allegory in his work.
This is where the writer chooses to use characters to represent something in his work. For example in “A Christmas Carol”, Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, is used to represent happiness whereas Scrooge himself is used to represent evil, hatred and ignorance. The novel is about an evil and cold-hearted man who goes by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge. We also read about Jacob Marley, who was Scrooge’s business partner until he died. Scrooge does not see the purpose of Christmas and so is visited by Marley’s ghost.
He tells Scrooge that he must change his attitude unless he wants to end up like him, wrapped up in chains. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come. The ghosts show him what has taken place in the past, what is happening at the moment, and what is to come if things carry on as they are. All these actions happened in order to try and persuade Scrooge to transform his behaviour towards people and Christmas. In the end, he decides to do so and becomes a friendly and pleasing man. In some ways, the novel can be seen as a fairy tale.
The story explains how an evil man changes in the course of a night into a warm human being. A Christmas Carol is also arranged quite simply in the fact that for each visit by the Ghost represents a chapter. The Christmas Carol ends happily with Scrooge saying ‘the spirits of all three shall strive within me”. These all show us how “A Christmas carol” resembles a Fairy tale. In stave 1, Scrooge is described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” He is said to have “cold within him”. This particular quality
“Froze his features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke shrewdly in his grating voice” This description is of a typical upper class male of the Victorian era in Dickens’ perspective; cruel and full of hatred. His voice is described as “grating”, which makes the character sound annoying, harsh and aggressive. He has also been illustrated in the readers’ minds using the adjectives above, which are all inhumane. Scrooge has an employee, Bob Cratchit. His room is described as a “dismal little cell” and a “tank”.
Furthermore, all Bob has to warm himself is a fire that looked like “one coal”. However, Bob has remained a loyal worker because this career was the only job he could get and would need it to feed his growing family. Scrooge obviously does not care much about Bob by giving him such a small and uncomfortable office. We can conclude from this that there were not many jobs available in Victorian times and those that did have jobs, were often paid very little and worked in unspeakable situations. Bob is shown to be one of the lucky ones with a job.
In this novel, he is used by Dickens to represent the poor. Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, enters the office in an effort to enlighten Scrooge with the advantages of Christmas but Scrooge simply does not want to know. As Fred speaks, Scrooge continuously uses the words “Good afternoon” to try and get rid of him. It seems as though money is the only thing Scrooge cares about when he keeps arguing against Fred’s view, which is that he does not need money to be happy. Instead of listening to Fred, he tells him to “Keep Christmas in your own way. ”
Fred can clearly be seen to symbolise happiness because even though he is not rich and does not have much to spend, he is still joyful and merry at Christmas time. In stave one of the novel, two charity workers enter the scene and ask Scrooge to spare some change for the poor at that specific time of year. However, he dismisses them by asking if the prisons and workhouses were still in use. The charity workers try to come back at him by reminding him of the dreadful conditions of these accommodations but all he says is “Oh, I was afraid that something had occurred to stop them in their usual course”
The poor are living in very deprived conditions. These are shown when Dickens is describing Scrooge near the very start. It is here that Dickens makes the remark that “No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle”. This is Dickens’ way of saying that there were homeless people living on the streets, without disclosing it directly. “Are there no prisons? ” “No Union workhouses? ” Again Dickens is showing us how ignorant some rich people were in the way they didn’t put any effort into helping the poor; they just locked them away in prisons and workhouses.
Dickens is also using Scrooge to reject the Malthusian theory by suggesting that it would be absurd to force the rich into the workhouses when the poor would rather die than to live in them. Jacob Marley, Ebenezer’s employment partner returns to his former colleague on the eve on which he died, seven years later to warn Scrooge about his attitude. Scrooge is shaken and tries to suppress his fear. Dickens has included the ghost in the story because he wants to show that one can change to a pleasant and better person. The weather is shown to be gloomy and murky. It is foggy beyond belief and exceedingly bitter.