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In this essay, I am going to examine the changes in the character of Scrooge in the novel ‘A Christmas Carol’. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a story of a “Squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” named Ebenezer Scrooge, who throughout the novel changes his dishonourable ways to become a compassionate, generous and thoughtful old man. This novel was written by the devoted and well respected Charles Dickens, and was published in 1843,’A Christmas Carol’ then went on to become a best seller. Dickens has themed the novel around the effects of poverty and the way society was evolving.
In the beginning Scrooge is a bitter old man. Dickens uses metaphors and similes to define Scrooge and associate him with objects we can imagine; Scrooge is “hard and sharp as flint, from witch no steel had ever struck out a generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.” They all seem to circle around “The cold within him”. The coldness has demolished Scrooge’s spirit spiralling him into a malicious man.
Scrooge has a large hatred and irritation for Christmas as Dickens shows with the conversation between Scrooge and his nephew “A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” Scrooge replies “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge seems incapable of showing any human emotion other than anger. He is even more irritated when people show their Christmas spirit and humble hearts, and states “If I could work my willâ€¦ every idiot who goes around with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding , and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
Scrooge’s attitude to charity can be presented by his expression “Bah! Humbug!” and about the poor “Are there no prisonsâ€¦Union workhousesâ€¦ The treadmill and the poor Law are in full vigour”. Scrooge has no care for the poor and has no intention in giving anything to charity; to him Christmas is just another day. Scrooge thinks that Christmas is just a day for everyone to slack off their work duties.
The first change of Scrooge we see is the appearance of Marley. When Marley appears Scrooge won’t believe it “It’s humbug stillâ€¦ I won’t believe it”; Scrooge declines the fact that Marley is really there. This is Scrooge’s warning that he needs to change or his fate will be sealed. “You are wearing a similar chain, but you don’t realise it”. “I am here tonight to warn you to-night, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fateâ€¦ you will be hauntedâ€¦ by three Spirits”. This is when we see actual human emotion from Scrooge “Speak comfort to me, Jacob”. Marley’s emphasised and final words to Scrooge are “Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!” This shows us that Marley desperately wants Scrooge to change or he will follow in the same footsteps.
Further on Marley’s words become truth when the Ghost of Christmas Past appears before Scrooge. The Ghost tries to change Scrooges ways by showing him his past and dealing with what had wounded Scrooge in his early childhood years. These are the memories that were eating away at Scrooge throughout the novel. For the first time Scrooge wants to feel. We see some more emotion from Scrooge when the ghost says “‘Your lip is trembling’â€¦ And what is that upon your cheek’ “. We ‘the readers’ can now understand Scrooge and why he is the way he is.
Now Dickens really starts to show the character of Ebenezer Scrooge changing when the second Spirit of Christmas Present arrives. Scrooge does not act the same around this Ghost the way he did the other, “Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this Spirit”. This is where Dickens tells us that Scrooge has begun his change “He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been”. Scrooge is not as persistent as he was in the beginning of the novel “Scrooge did as he was hold”. “Good Afternoon!” Scrooge is changing in stages from an inconsiderate, mean man to a considerate and polite man with emotion.
The Spirit of Christmas Present is described as “kind, generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor men”. The spirit shows Scrooge that Christmas is a time for joy and sharing and that it’s not about money “The Cractchits were happy even in their extreme poverty” the ultimate change in the visit to the Cractchit family was when the Spirit shows Scrooge Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim is a huge importance in the novel and emerges Scrooges empathy for people, especially people living in poverty.
Scrooge also discovers that his nephew deeply cares for him after all he has done “A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to the old man, whatever he is!”, every year his nephew invites Scrooge to his annual Christmas party, this shows us he won’t give up on Scrooge “I mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he likes it or not, for I pity him”.
The third spirit that Marley sends is where the most dramatic change occurs with Scrooge “the bell struck twelve â€¦ Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not.”. He “beheld a solemn phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.” This appearance of the spirit of ‘Christmas Yet to Come’ is to show Scrooge his oncoming fate if he does not change his miserable old ways.
“The unseen eyes were looking at himâ€¦ it made him shudder and feel very cold.” Scrooge has fear throughout his whole body, “his legs trembled beneath him”. Now the Ghost shows Scrooge the final scene that will make him change completely and Scrooge asks “Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead?” the Ghost says nothing and leads Scrooge to a Church Yard and points to a gravestone. Before Scrooge even looks at the stone he asks “Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of thing that may be, only?” The finger rises again and points to the stone. The inscription reads “EBEBEZER SCROOGE”. Scrooge is destroyed by this and begs the ghost for another chance to change his ways, promising “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the yearâ€¦ I will not shut out the lessons that they teach”.
Scrooge is still alive, startled, but alive “Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!” Scrooge has totally changed his whole dialect “hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!” and cares no more for his pride “I am as merry as a schoolboy â€¦ I’m quite a baby”.
Even the weather has changed along with Scrooge; “No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial”.
Scrooge is now ready for Christmas “It’s Christmas Day! â€¦ I haven’t missed it.” Scrooge buys the biggest prize turkey and sends it to the Cratchits house and he takes great amusement in it “Chuckled till he cried.” Scrooge makes amends to everyone he meets and even asks the portly Gentleman “will you come and see me” In the beginning Scrooge was a ‘lonely’ man and wanted it that way. This theme continues throughout and Scrooge then goes to see his nephew Fred. Fred accepts Scrooges apology and invites him to stay, Scrooge shouts “Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!” Scrooge was a new man “In fact Scrooge adopted Bob Cratchit’s family; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father”.
Scrooge has completely changed: “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knewâ€¦ Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laughâ€¦ His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough for him”.
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