A Christmas Carol is novel by an English author by the name of Charles Dickens. The book opens with the approval of the death of Marley, Scrooge’s long time friend and companion in business. The book then narrates the story of the old, melancholy, cold-hearted businessman, by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, who continues to exercise his parsimonious, gluttonous ways on Christmas Eve. He is so much against Christmas that he intentionally refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas dinner invitations. In addition, this man refuses to partake in all the good tidings of Christmas. On the contrary, he yells at charity workers, and burns the midnight oil of his humble and kind hearted employee by the name of Bob Cratchit. On the night of this particular Christmas, something strange happens to Scrooge that eventually, softens his hard-heartedness to the extent of shocking even the neighbors, workmates and everyone else who knew his behavior and attitude towards Christmas and life and people in general.
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The ghost of his seven years dead friend appears to him. The ghost had been condemned to roam around the whole earth tied in heavy chains. The main reason for the punishment was due to his spending with business and not with people during his lifetime. His friend Scrooge was in the same boat as can be seen from the fact that Belle had opted to break her engagement with him for his consumption with gluttony and lust for prosperity and she later married another man. The main reason behind the appearance of the ghost (in his dreams) was to save his old friend and business partner from suffering the same fate as him by providing him with a means and chance to change his current behavior.
He sent him three ghosts all of whom revealed to him an aspect in life that he didn’t fulfill. The last ghost went ahead to show him his life and the way people were unhappy and disappointed with him because of how he treated him. To his surprise, the ghost showed him his grave and he was so disappointed with how he had been living that he made a promise to change his life for the best. To scrooge’s surprise, the events just took him one night and it is already Christmas day. This day he behaves softly towards everyone, he donates to the charitable workers he had previously yelled at and called names, and enjoys the Christmas dinner party at his nephews. The story is in general about the transformation of the misery and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge courtesy of the spirit of his seven years dead friend by the name of Marley who after his death and condemnation felt that it was not right for his partner in business who had the same conduct as his, to one day die find the same fate as had befallen him-roaming around the world tied in heavy chains.
The purpose of this paper is to explore three main themes that are outstanding in the book. These themes are: the Victorian community, the Christmas spirit, and the consumerist time and epiphany.
The Christmas spirit
From Dickens (1843), the importance and the spirit of Christmas are emphasized in some of the characters like Fred who was Scrooge nephew, the community through their charitable work and the three spirits that appears to Scrooge courtesy of the spirit of his dead friend. What is more conspicuous in the book is the behavior of Scrooge towards Christmas and all good tidings associated to it. Scrooge in the novella is hence described as a hard hearted man whose heart cannot be softened by any external heat or cold had influence (Wayne and Tamara 2011). The two go on to say that, ‘no warmth could warm, and no winter weather could chill himâ€¦’ And no wind blew with much bitterness than he had. The man’s life was disputable.
The true spirit of Christmas was, as depicted by Gradesaver.com (2011), one where people engaged in lavish dinners and games as demonstrated by third stave in the book. With such lavish parties and dinners by people, there were invitations for all kind of people to eat and feel free from all enduring problems and worries in their lives to just celebrate. Scrooge isn’t much into such kind of parties and dinners and so when invited to such by his nephew in the past Christmases, he refuses to attend, and goes ahead to criticize Fred and other poor men by saying that “â€¦when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas. What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer” (Dickens P 13), and concentrates on making money and gaining more wealth. What he feels for other people, despite his wealth, is an uncaring and greedy spirit. As can be seen, the Gradesaver.com (2011), Fred says the Christian parable concerning the “kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time” of Christmas.
This book by dickens is a celebration of Christmas and all the good tidings that comes about with it. According to dickens (1943) Christmas should be a time when people lay down their worries, disagreements, egocentric tendencies and work filled schedules at the expense of the good of others who are less fortunate in the form charity work, celebration and much more friendship. It is clear that the spirit of Jacob Marley is in deep regret for a life wrongly spent here on earth and since it is irreversible, the ghost decides to save his friend of similar behavior from suffering by helping transform to embrace Christmas and all the good tidings that come with it.
Contrary to this Christmas mood, Scrooge and Jacob are two greedy employers and the second spirit of the present uses fezziwig, a kind and philanthropic employer who is also a friend to both Scrooge and Jacob but all the while, the two had not reflected their conducts against his to see how much change was required for them embrace the Christmas spirit and care and concern for their fellow human beings.
There are several outstanding features about the true Christmas spirit. First, it was characterized by pure generosity and philanthropy as one assisted their fellow human who were less fortunate in the society. In addition, there was a spirit of charity, and everybody was called upon to partake as giving was one way to get more and not to get poor. The Cratchit family is seen to be a loving family full of humility and kindness. The book contains staves which are a musical notation for Christmas carols which calls for communal work as the singers sing in unison together and not as individuals.
The Victorian community
The representation of the Victorian community is also very clearly demonstrated by the likes of Scrooge and his dead friend Marley who are rich businessmen with nothing else to care about except their wealth just as the mean desires of the Victorian England’s wealthy. Like most of the Victorian rich, he oppresses the poor as well as overworking his employees who have nothing else except remain obedient in order to earn a living. One such employee is cratchit humble and powerless employee who only knows how to fulfill the demand of his employer.
His detachment from people bestows him a legacy like “No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock â€¦â€¦Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master” (Dickens P 12). He is a loner and antisocial.
His lack of warmth for people is demonstrated by the way Scrooge throws the two gentlemen who visit him in his office in search of charitable contributions yet the book starts by saying that the man is a rich and wealthy (Dickens 1843). He is also seen as a strict and challenging employer who almost refuses cratchit to have a day off for Christmas. The Victorian society is named after Queen Victoria who is after her marriage to Prince Edward became a prude and of strict moral conduct.
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During this reign, most of the workers lived in slums and had no sanitation or water supply, no schools, law or order and neither did they have decent food or new clothing (Crossick 1988). It is also true that most of the workers were under paid and so could not sustain their families with anything more than a mere meal. Most employers like Scrooge were inhuman and mistreated their employees while taking them as tools of work and not human beings with a life to live by being tired or fatigued.
After sometime, there emerged social classes with employers buying estates and building new streets of houses which were occupied only by skilled work men and not just any employee (Crossick 1988). Most employers never mingled with their employees as can be seen in the behavior of Scrooge who never mingles with his employee Cratchit who had invited him for Christmas. Scrooge only changes after the encounter with Marley’s ghost and the promise he made to the third spirit to spare his life and give him a chance to demonstrate he has changed. After the change, Scrooge is described as having become as good as a man, master, friend (Crossick 1988).
This was unbelievable and some people were seen not to believe his change by laughing at him as soon as he mingled with people during dinner and with his huge contributions to charity workers yet he had denied contributions to the two men who went to his office in search of charity contributions and failure to fulfill his promise to one of them after meeting with them along the streets much later (Dickens 1843).
The consumerist time and epiphany
As the novella starts, Scrooge like most of the wealthy men in the Victorian society is only concerned about the present, how to make more money, how to intimidate the poor, and how to get his work done to gain more profits. This present is the sense of capitalism as he embraces time as one when he can either make loses or gains.
In the second, a third and fourth staff, Scrooge is visited by the ghosts and this serves a lot in transforming his life. Such a transformation is denoted as an epiphany and according to the way Dickens brings about this episode, it is required that one integrates the past, present and the future in order to get a unified and coherent tense (Guida and WAgaenknecht 2006 P 104). By the visit of the first ghost which is the Ghost of the Past, Scrooge may be reliving his life as he is passed through his childhood through to adulthood to his current age. From the book “â€¦the ghost looks both like an old man and a child at the same time”.
The ghost makes worse Scrooge’s deliverance from miser to an excellent benevolent Christian by taking him back to his loneliness and provides him with models of relationship to which he should aspire (Dickens 1843). Scrooge gains empathy for the neglected soon after the ghost reminds him of his own neglected childhood, and inspires him to require providing the caroling boy he neglected. The ghost also brings out his friend Fezziwig to assist him reflect on his unethical treatment of employees, and how money and the lust for money had interfered with romance and the joy that comes around with family life.
After his change Scrooge learns to integrate the past, present and the future to live in a timeless frame where humane qualities like generosity, and love rule and that people are all he needs to embrace and every thing shall fall in place.
As a matter of fact, Charles Dickens wrote stories that detailed how civilians caught up in poverty and other life obstacles that would make better living by remaining within their values and using mere reason. One such tale is ‘A Christmas Carol’ which is a book written in the era and the rule of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Charles at whose reign industrialization was at its early stages and the Christmas customs and traditions were at the verge of extinction. In addition it was at this time that there was the evolution of social classes with the rich remaining on their own and the poor remaining on their own.
From the book, it is not too late for one to change and make new resolutions to really meet something we mean by using the past for its lessons, the present for its patterns and the future for what we expect in the future. If the results are negative, then we need to go through them again and change our focus to something positive.
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