At the time when dickens was writing the Christmas tradition was not nearly as important as it is today. The Christmas tradition gained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in England. One reason for this was that the monarchy supported it: Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband brought the German tradition of decorating the Christmas tree when he came to England.
Life in Victorian Britain for the poor and un-privileged was very hard as children were uneducated; they had very little money and therefore were unable to afford to go to school. Young children were being employed in factories and mines as chimney sweeps. Children were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs and low wages. On the other hand life for the richer and fortunate people was more relaxing and also benefitted them in many ways. Parents could afford to send their children to school to get a good enough education; some were very fortunate and were able to be tutored at home.
In Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ the readers follow a story that highlights many Victorian issues through a message in his novella. Ebenezer Scrooge is a wealthy but mean and miserly old man, with his familiar cry of “Bah Humbug!” Who believes Christmas is just a trick most people use to gain a day off work. On Christmas Eve, he was visited by four spirits who hoped of reforming Scrooges heartless and penny pinching ways as Christmas morning arrives.
In stave one of “A Christmas Carol” Scrooges outward appearance is compared to a scavenger. “The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eye red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice”. In this quote Dickens used adjectives to describe the character Scrooge, he list the features to show the audience what Scrooges appearance is like.
Scrooge’s personality also matches with his appearance. “Hard and sharp as a flint, from which no steel had ever stuck out generous fire; secret, and self contained as an oyster”. The use of commas gives an effect to show his personalities and by listing the bad points. Scrooge has also been compared to dead wood which shows the audience that he has no personality at all. The phrase “self contained as an oyster” tells us the pearl inside an oyster is like his wealth as Scrooge keeps everything to himself and is happy being closed.
Scrooge believes that Christmas is a fraud and doesn’t like it at all in fact he hates it and treats Bob Cratchit like his servant; Scrooge says that Cratchit can have a paid day off but if he comes in late the next day he will duck his wages. Also Scrooge is very horrible to Fred, who is always unfailingly nice to him, and trying to make him see the wonder of Christmas and how you don’t need money to enjoy it.
The language devices are being used to create imageries for the reader. Emotive language has been used to make the readers understand and feel what it would be like to be a poor person.
In stave two of ‘A Christmas Carol’ Scrooge changes as he is visited by the first ghost ‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’ who shows Scrooge different scenes from his life as a school boy and a young man. The ghost takes him to more Christmases of the past including a merry party thrown by Fezziwig. In this stave we learn that Scrooge had a very sad and lonely childhood, but he had won the heart of a lovely young woman who he then lost due to his greater love for money.
Scrooge realises what he was like and becomes sad, also he realises what he had gone through; it affects him because he understood why people may have not liked him. Dickens uses emotive language so the readers can understand his past and show a bit of sympathy.
Dickens shows Scrooge as a lonely young boy at first; this shows us what Scrooges life was like, when his dad would not let Scrooge back home, then shows a happy, loving young man. This tells us that as Scrooge is growing up, his life is getting back on track. This changes the readers understanding of the character because it shows us that he did go through a rough time and he hadn’t always been a grumpy man who only cares about money.
In stave three Scrooge gets a visit from the Ghost of Christmas present, ‘If he be to die, he had better do it and decrease the surplus population’ (the spirit). Dickens uses repetition here to emphasise the harshness of Scrooges words early in the novella. When Scrooge hears them again he realises how awful a thing to say it was and the Victorian reader too realises they may be in the wrong if they had not reacted when they heard Scrooge say the same thing in Stave Two.
‘Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted, by the spirit and was overcome with patience and grief. Here Dickens says for a change ‘tells’ rather than ‘shows’ to ensure that every reader realises that Scrooge is beginning to regret his actions. The omniscient narrator (all seeing all knowing) uses adjectives to describe Scrooges exact emotions, so the reader knows that he feels guilty for his past moral crimes against the Cratchit family.
Towards the end of stave three, Scrooge notices two children beneath the spirit of Christmas Presents robe. The Spirit explains these children represent all is wrong with the Victorian Society: want and ignorance.
Dickens uses these metaphorical figures to show Scrooge, and the entire Victorian readers reading the story at home. Dickens uses two very long lists to emphasise the injustice of these poor children’s existence: “Yellow, meagre, ragged, scouting, wolfish […]”
Finally the last Ghost of Christmas yet to come shows Scrooge what it would be like after his death. Scrooge is shocked at the fate that awaits him and how people do not care for his death.
Scrooge was upset because he finally realises that he had been treating people very badly and saw how they treated him back. When Scrooge sees this It is likely to change him because he realises his mistakes and deep down believes its time for a change before it gets any worse. ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year’ this tells us that he is finally going to be in the Christmas spirit all year round; and will be happy, joyful and also be good for the rest of the year meaning that he will donate to charities and make better life’s for others.
By the end of this novel his behaviour was completely different to the beginning, he was no longer a grumpy old man who only cared about himself and money but know is a happy, loving caring person, and he gains a reputation of a kind generous man. His relationship changes with his nephew and Scrooge finally accepts him.
Towards Bob and the Cratchits Scrooge has learned to appreciate all the things they did for him. ‘A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise you salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this afternoon […]’ Charles Dickens had successfully haunted Scrooge with his past life and changed him for the better. As a result Scrooge now goes around wishing “a merry Christmas” to everyone he meets, helping out poorer people by donating money to charities and improving the life of others. Charles Dickens effectively shows Scrooge’s kindness towards others by raising Bob’s salary and being like a second father to Tiny Tim, which due to the changes in Scrooge, did not die. Dickens has effectively turned Scrooge into a much happier person.
His physical appearance was of a kind generous man who had the Christmas sprit in him. “Cold, cold, piping for the blood to dance to’, the weather reflects Scrooges new attitude. The rule of three captures the audience’s attention by adding adjectives and different opinions.
Scrooge changes have improved a lot. ‘He becomes a good friend, as a good master, and as a good man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or brought, in the good old world’. This shows that he is making a brand new start and becoming a kind man as he realises all the mistakes he made and now understood how people felt about him. “I am light as a feather, I am happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school boy, and I am as giddy as a drunken man, a merry Christmas to everybody!” These quotes sum up that Scrooge has changed; he now laughs with joy.
The ghost of Christmas Yet to come might have had the biggest impact on Scrooge because he was shocked at how people did not care for his death and felt really sad and unwanted. I think at this point Scrooge definitely understood how people felt about him so he knew it was time for a change.
From ‘A Christmas Carol’ Scrooge learns that money is not everything and that it affects your life and the people around you. By treating people with respect and making other peoples life’s better it benefitted him; people saw Scrooge in a totally different way. Also Scrooge felt like a happier man.
On the other hand from ‘A Christmas Carol’ the reader learns that charity is vital-social changes are needed to help the poor and destitute- we must all take responsibility for one another. Also we should be grateful for what we have and not always want more- modern communism makes us all feel we need to own more material possessions but we should be pleased with what we have rather than what we don’t.