How relevant do you find the theme of Human Generosity in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Why do you think the writer explores it? The theme of Human Generosity that runs through the story of A Christmas Carol covers the aspects of how human beings react to one another, both rich and poor, and how even the smallest amount of generosity can make a huge impact on another life. It demonstrates clearly how being generous causes not only the receiver, but also the giver, to feel better about themselves. Throughout the story the theme is revealed in a number of ways. Scrooge himself reveals it initially, simply in the way he lives and acts.
The arrival of the ghost of Jacob Marley and the three spirits then increases the idea further, as does the story of Tiny Tim Cratchit and the generosity that will save his life. A Christmas Carol is set in Victorian London, where the atmosphere is heavily connected to the theme. There are major comparisons between rich and poor, making the generosity (or lack of it) between them clearly recognisable. Despite being set back in this time (which, in Dickens’ time, would have been modern day) the theme is still relevant to people now, although in a variation of circumstances.
Many examples can be found today of human generosity; on the news, through charities and even simply in exchanges between friends. It was possibly Dickens’ understanding of this continuation of relevance that initially prompted him to explore the theme. Scrooge, the main character in the story, is a very rich man. His is, however a perfect example of the saying, “Money cannot buy you happiness. ” He lives alone, does not associate himself with anyone and spends every moment of daylight working, not even stopping for Christmas. “Oh! But he was a tight fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge!
a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! ” Dickens uses an extended list is his description to emphasise how Scrooge keeps his money tightly to himself. He is not a generous man in the slightest and, for the majority of the story, does not intend ever to become so. Any compassion he may possess is buried deep under his hardened exterior. To the cry of, “Merry Christmas! ” he replies with a grumbled “Bah! Humbug! ” Despite his riches, he is not a happy man, turning his only family member down on his offer of Christmas dinner.
Scrooge does not realise it, but due to his lack of human generosity, he is denying himself the chance of a joyful, loving life. His blunt views of the poor are clearly demonstrated when he states, “If they would rather die they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. ” He portrays himself as a very cold-hearted man. In contrast to Scrooge are Bob Cratchit and his family. Bob is Scrooge’s clerk and is paid extremely poorly, although Scrooge could undoubtedly afford to pay him a hearty amount. He sits huddled over his tiny fire that looks like “one coal” and works hard in a brave attempt to feed his family.
Yet, in spite of this, Bob is a happy man. He has a large, big-hearted family and intends to celebrate Christmas with them in a traditional, fun-loving manner. The love they have for each other holds them together through whatever obstacle life throws at them and they will not let poverty dampen their spirits, especially not at such a time of celebration as Christmas. This is a prospect Scrooge finds very difficult to understand, “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I’ll retire to Bedlam. ”
Scrooge’s manner does not account for all rich people in Victorian times. Lots of them are very generous, for example the “portly gentlemen” that visit Scrooge. They have a good understanding of the needs of the poor and take a great deal of pleasure in making “slight provisions” to help them. They seem quite convinced that Scrooge will make a donation, suggesting that they have already encountered a great deal of generosity from many others. When Scrooge refuses to donate, they have trouble believing that somebody of his wealth does not wish to share it with those in need.
The image Dickens paints of Jacob Marley’s Ghost is a very powerful one, both for Scrooge and for the reader. He wears a chain of, “cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. ” When the Ghost appears Scrooge is very afraid, but, as his old business partner, Marley had been the closest person in Scrooge’s life, so Scrooge has a lot of respect for him. The form the ghost takes terrifies Scrooge and he asks why Marley wears the chain. He replies, “I wear the chain I forged in life. ” He implies that the life he lived, and the life that Scrooge is living now gradually made the chain, “link by link”.
He kept his money close to him, sharing his riches with no one and working every day to gain more and more. For the first time in Scrooge’s life he realises what he is doing to himself and that he too bears such a chain. The prospect scares and panics him, “Speak comfort to me, Jacob! ” But the Ghost has no words of comfort to give him. With Christmas Eve comes the visit from the three Spirits, the first being the Ghost of Christmas Past. The Spirit shows Scrooge visions of his past that bring a flood of feelings back to Scrooge.
He is shown a scene of a Christmas Eve back when he was an apprentice, a time of joyful celebration and merriment. As he watches, “His heart and soul were in the scene, and with his former self. ” He contradicts everything we have already learnt about him when he discusses with the Spirit how it wasn’t the money Fezziwig spent on the party, but the “power” to bring them so much happiness that made the party so special. We can see his former self shining through and a change in him becomes apparent when he ponders, “I should like to be able to say a word to my clerk just now. “