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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

3268 words (13 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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Which of the ghosts was the most important to Scrooge’s transformation?

We are studying the novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens the story is about a man called Ebenezer Scrooge who is described by Dickens to be a “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” throughout the novella Scrooges meets with a total of four ghosts who’s existence’ purpose is to get Scrooge to change into a better person and save him from a terrible fate that Scrooge’s perhaps only friend is suffering from. The idea of three main ghosts could be reflected in the Christian belief in the Holy Trinity that most people in Dickens’s time would know and would perhaps relate to this.

Scrooge meets his friend Jacob Marley first who foretells the coming of three other ghosts who would give Scrooge a “a chance and hope of escaping [Jacob’s] fate” Dickens finishes this first stave with Scrooge “[trying] to say “Humbug!” but stopped at the first syllable” this seems to indicate the exact moment at which Scrooges transformation starts to occur.

Jacob Marley seems to symbolise Scrooge’s life as they lived in very similar ways and were partners both sought profit at any expense including other peoples, Jacob Marley is an example for Scrooge so that he can see what will happen if he doesn’t change however Jacob Marley’s purpose in the first stanza is not to show Scrooge what will happen to him it is to get Scrooge to believe and to at least try to learn and show improvement at first Jacob has a lot of trouble convincing Scrooge that he is real let alone trying to have him clean up his act Scrooge truly does not want to believe Jacob to be back as well as plainly not believing it he tries to convince himself by claiming Jacob to be “An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard [or] a crumb of cheese…There’s more of gravy than of grave about you.” The reader can tell however that none of these scenarios are possible as Scrooge at this point would not treat himself to mustard or cheese. Scrooge’s reaction however is understandable for someone who has a sizable income who believes they understand the world then the Spirit of his only friend who he knew to be dead and to never be coming back. This desire not to believe seems to run so deep that Scrooge would “doubt his own senses” by which I mean that he will not even acknowledge what is sitting in front of him.

Throughout this first stanza Dickens’s appears to be using a tennis metaphor being that earlier in the stanza Scrooge feels like he has an advantage over everyone however when he meets Jacob Marley he is seriously challenged and towards the middle of there encounter they reach a stalemate or “deuce” however as they progress through there talk Jacob seems to get the advantage over Scrooge

The spirit truly gets the better of him when it starts to “cry and [shake] its chain” I think that Scrooge need to physically experience the ghost for him to believe it this truly has opened Scrooge up for attack Scrooge even begs the spirit for good news showing genuine belief in him and trust that what Jacob said was true even if he did not like what was said.

The importance of this stanza was not to show Scrooge what to do but to open his mind and get some response from him and use whatever trust Scrooge had in Jacob to full affect and help Scrooge make the choice that may save his soul. In the stanza they went over what the ghost would tell him very generally however it main purpose was always convince Scrooge to trust the ghost’s lessons.

Next Scrooge meets the ghost of Christmas Past. The Ghost of Christmas Past is a personification of Scrooges memory and past this perhaps is the reason why the spirit is portrayed as a child as it symbolises Scrooge’s innocence as a child, a spirit whose duty is to show Scrooge what has happened to him in his life at Christmas time. First they visit Scrooges childhood and see him all alone spending the Christmas holidays at school The Ghost then presents a vision of a later Christmas to Scrooge. Young Scrooge is still alone in the schoolhouse, which has grown darker and dirtier however his younger sister Fan finds him and brings him home with her. The ghost then takes Scrooge to the city which is bustling with activity preparing to close for Christmas Scrooge is shown Mr Fezziwig’s warehouse which younger Scrooge and another apprentice Dick are closing getting ready for a Christmas Dance later finally the ghost shows Scrooge two people himself when he was younger and his old girlfriend who seems to be mourning not mourning a death but the death of there relationship as it seemed that Scrooge has changed from a kind-at-heart young man into a man that seeks only wealth and assets Scrooges is very upset at seeing himself act this way and this seems to indicate that as Scrooge is regretting his transformation is occurring here.

At Scrooge’s childhood town he sees many children rushing home for Christmas and he seems all to happy to see his childhood friends however the ghost of Christmas Past reminds him that not all the children went home. Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past visit the school where Scrooge is sitting alone we the reader start to wonder if Scrooges tenancy in later life to stay away from people is his own choice or if it’s because he grew up this way. We do find however that Scrooge is not completely alone as he has created imaginary friends out of characters in books which he reads to pass the time his friends include Ali Baba (from Arabian Nights which consequently was one of Dickens’ favourite books which he often associated with Christmas) and Robinson Crusoe (from Robinson Crusoe which was also associated with Christmas as it was a standard present to give to boys at Christmas in Dickens’ time) we do feel sorry for Scrooge who is in isolation no one to truly talk or even care for him properly

Later we find Scrooge in the same place however he is slightly older now and we assume that after these years of solitude Scrooge has grown like the building he is in “a little darker” he is broken out of his musing when his little sister Fan runs in a hugs him she claims that she is taking Scrooge home and that there father who had before sent them away was “so much kinder than he used to be” she even goes as far as comparing it to “heaven.” Scrooges father is an interesting character as he is easily comparable to Scrooge himself before the start of his transformation, they are both cruel Dickens perhaps uses this to prepare us for a change in Scrooge who may change like his father did.

Scrooge then visits his old workplace when he used to work for Mr Fezziwig as an apprentice, he watches as his old employer tells Scrooge and his fellow apprentice Dick Wilkins to stop working and to get the warehouse ready for a Christmas party that was to be occurring very soon young Scrooge and Dick quickly clear the room and the room quickly fills Dickens describes “the great effect of the evening” being when Fezziwig himself starts dancing with his wife. The ghost take on Scrooges old out look on life and openly mocks Fezziwig’s generosity and asks why Fezziwig deserves such praise when “he has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money” this seems as a way of saying to Scrooge that you cant buy happiness he gets a reaction though that “It isn’t [the money]…he has the power to render [his employees] happy or unhappy” or “make [their] service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil.” This sparks the thought that perhaps he should not have been so cruel to his clerk and perhaps a bit more like Mr Fezziwig.

Scrooge is shown himself with his old girlfriend who is grieving as she know they must break up as Scrooge watches this scene he begs that he not be shown anymore Scrooge is forced to accept the mistakes he has made in his life he sees that because of his mindset one of the best things that has ever happened to him was lost forever.

Finally Scrooge is shown his once fiancé who now has children of her own and another husband he responds in anger when he hears what the husbands has to say

However he cannot deny his past anymore and for the first time in his life he truly understands his past and what it has done to his life.

The theme of this stave seems to have been regret, Scrooge has seen all that has happened to him before and the things that truly meant the most a change him are things that cause him to regret for example seeing his old employer made him regret his treatment of his own employee and seeing himself as a child seems to make him regret his treatment of the carollers as well as his biggest regret which is something he cannot change how he lost his fiancé to his infatuation with money and assets.

At the beginning of Stave three Scrooge prepares himself for his meeting with the Ghost of Christmas Present at this point Scrooge feels that “nothing between a baby and a rhinoceros would have astonished him very much.” however at the designated time Scrooge does not meet with the ghost he waits but finally when nothing comes he decides to investigate the “ghostly light” that was shining from the next room into his inside Scrooge finds a man who its seems is large in all things from his height to the size of his heart the man is sitting on a throne made of food and he is surrounded by warmth and Christmas cheer this room is seen to be the complete opposite of Scrooge and he seems to really wish to learn from this ghost as he looks upon him “reverently” when the spirit asks whether Scrooge has ever seen the like of him before Scrooge answers that he has “Never” as this ghost seems to be the personification of giving and generosity Scrooges answer seems to indicate to us the reader that he has never been truly generous.

Even when talking to the ghost we can see that Scrooges transformation has not quite fully taken place yet as he seems to show concern over how difficult it would be to “provide” for a family of eighteen hundred.

Another example of Scrooges past self showing is that he doesn’t quite understand why others deserve of the ghosts Christmas cheer he wonders why even though Bob gets “but fifteen copies of his Christian name; and yet the ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four bedroom house!” He cannot seem to grasp at the idea that the poor get things because they need them.

Scrooge is taken to see the Cratchits who have very little however they are pleased with it and are happy to just be together at this time unlike Scrooge who could have so much but prefers to stay isolated. Despite Scrooges treatment of Bob Cratchit he still wishes Scrooge good health and his family reductively toast him as well.

The ghost takes Scrooge around and they visit many people however the main theme with all the people they see is that they are poor and unfortunate however they manage to stay positive and happy despite adverse conditions.

Finally Scrooge is taken to his Nephew’s where the party Scrooge was previously invited to is underway they are all laughing at Scrooges expense after he called Christmas a “humbug” they play a number of games which Scrooge sees and he realises what he is missing out on he regrets not taking Fred up on his offer. At the end Fred mirrors what happened at Cratchits and he toasts Scrooge this time however the quests aren’t so reluctant and Scrooge is truly moved.

At the end of this stave Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present have a talk about the ghost’s age during this talk Scrooge notices something like “a foot or a claw” coming from the bottom of the ghosts robe. The ghost shows it to actually be “two children, wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable.” The ghost labels them as Ignorance and want two things that Scrooge suffers most from the ghosts most important message to Scrooge is to beware them. When Scrooge shows some level of true compassion by asking if anyone will help the ghost throws his own words back at him “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” the clock then strikes twelve and the Spirit disappears leaving Scrooge to think about the lessons he gained from the Ghost of Christmas Present.

The ghost of Christmas yet to come is a very important figure to Scrooge in the novella, the other ghosts purpose was to show Scrooge what he is missing and to give examples of how he should be however even after the first two ghosts appearance Scrooge seems to remain in denial of his own cruelness as throughout the fourth stave he cannot seem to piece together who the person who has died is despite the numerous amount of evidence he is presented with, the ghost of Christmas yet to come is the final figure Scrooge meets with and its purpose is to complete his transformation by showing him what he will miss out on if he does not change namely life.

Scrooge has progressed and has truly started to transform we can see this through the change in Scrooges mindset before the Scrooges meeting with the ghosts he would have dreaded a meeting with one of the ghosts how ever now he admits that he is truly terrified of this visitor more than the others, but that he is ready to learn the lessons it has to offer him.

Scrooge and the ghost visit the business district of London where several business men are discussing a mans death they wonder they do not seem saddened by it and do not care that the man is dead only where he has left his wealth to they care so little that one man decides that he will only attend the funeral if lunch provided later, this reflects Scrooges earlier outlooks where even when his friend Jacob Marley died he did not stop working even on the day of his death. The ghost then points out another two men who very briefly go over the topic themselves Scrooge recognises them as rich and important people who he had before always tried to associate himself with however despite his efforts to stay in good terms with them they still refer to the man or Scrooge as he later finds out as “Old Scratch” that is someone that scratches around for things or is “grasping, scraping, clutching [and] covetous” as Dickens earlier describes him. As Scrooge hold these men as very important and tries to stay on their good side he assumes that he is and therefore can not even conceive that this man could be him or that the man people are talking about could be himself. However these men’s conversation ends very quickly as if showing that the people would not put more than a half a minutes conversation as the value they found in Scrooges life.

Scrooges new mindset is once again demonstrated as Scrooge tries to figure out who the dead person might be he cannot think of anyone that could be described like that so he assumes it to be someone he does not know however despite not knowing he even “resolve[s] to treasure up every word he heard.” Meaning that despite no knowledge of the specifics he will try to learn all he can from this ghost as the other ghosts have already given him good lessons. It shows a willingness to change that was not present before it inspires belief in the readers that Scrooge will try his best.

Scrooge can however tell the sort of person that men are talking about though at first assuming that it may be Jacob Marley whom Scrooge was very similar too he gets rid of this thought however because this ghost was supposed to deal with the future. Scrooge later believes this man to be someone similar to himself believing that he is only being shown this mans death because “[t]he case of this unhappy man might be [his] own.”

Scrooge is next taken to a rag and bones shop where he sees three people talking about the dead man he can see that they have robbed the dead man who was lying dead on the bed next to them. One of the “ghouls” as they are named has literally taken the shirt off Scrooges back the “ghouls” behaviour seems to reflect Scrooges personality prior to the transformation as “grasping, scraping, clutching [and] covetous”

The ghost takes Scrooge to the dead mans room which has bee left “plundered and bereft.” He is told by the ghost to unveil the man hidden by a single sheet however he finds himself without the power to do so he instead reflects on the mans death that the “ghouls” described as alone with the man “Gasping for breathe” thinking that this mans love for money has caused his downfall in the end.

Scrooge asks the ghost whether anyone cared about the mans death but he finds that people are only happy that he is gone because he was a bad person but the only person who had tenderness directed to him was Tiny Tim who had also died it shows Scrooge that while Tiny Tim may be an invalid his kindness made people celebrate his short life a lot more than people will celebrate the mans death.

Finally the ghost completes Scrooges transformation by taking him to a church where he shows Scrooge his own grave this is followed by an understanding of this ghosts lesson that if he were to continue as he was “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching [and] covetous” what he has seen will happen to him Scrooge’s own fear of death makes him beg for forgiveness and even pledges to hold “Christmas in his heart” forever.

At Scrooge’s realisation the ghost starts to depart perhaps because the ghost was the personification of Scrooges negative future when Scrooge saw where he had gone wrong and pledged to change he destroyed that version of the ghost of Christmas future and changed all that the ghost predicted.

In conclusion I find it impossible to name a single ghost of whom Scrooge’s transformation can be attributed to

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