A Christmas Carol is written by Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was born in 1812. He grew up in London. Dickens worked in many places as a young child and experience poverty. Later as a writer, this made him write about the condition of the poor. He wrote columns for newspaper and soon became a very well-known news reporter. His novel The Christmas Carol shows us that selfishness and greediness can lead to disasters whereas generosity and kindness can lead to personal happiness. Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” because his experience made him want to criticise the attitudes of selfish and greedy people.
In this essay I will explore how Charles Dickens introduces Ebenezer Scrooge in the Stave One of “A Christmas Carol” and shows us Scrooge’s attitude towards Christmas and to other people.
Dickens uses metaphors, similes, and list-like formats to enable the readers to build up an image of Scrooge. He repeats words again and again “his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner”. This constant list shows us that Scrooge and Marley were not people with many friends. He uses repetition to make sure he gets his point to the reader. Dickens wrote this story to be read aloud as well as quietly. He uses metaphors and similes to describe Scrooge’s appearance. Charles Dickens uses a list-like format to explore his point e.g. Scrooge is described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!” Dickens uses extended metaphors. Extended metaphors continue the comparison into the rest of sentence or the sentence that follows. Charles Dickens uses weather as an extended metaphor to tell us about Scrooge “No warmth could warm him, no wintry weather chills him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he; no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose.”
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In the first chapter Dickens introduces Scrooge and he is the main character of the story. Scrooge had old features and the cold within him froze his old features. “It had nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red and his thin lips blue. He had a frosty rime on his head, on his eyebrows and on his wiry chin”. Dickens uses a list format to describe Scrooge’s appearance. List format enables the reader to build up an image of Scrooge in his mind. Charles Dickens describes Scrooge’s coldness with the help of weather extended metaphors. He describes Scrooge like this “External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. Foul weather didn’t know where to go. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect.” He uses weather extended metaphors again and again in the story.
The only thing Scrooge cared for was money. He did not spend money very easily “Tight-fisted hand at the grindstone”. He had plenty of money to give to charity but he never gave because he thought that poor people are inactive people who do not have the right to be merry. He did not care for poor people. In fact he said that if they don’t have money to live “they should rather die…and decrease the surplus population”. Scrooge was cut off from his family. He devoted himself of being a very clever business man “Hard and sharp as flint”. Even on the funeral day of Marley he was in his counting house counting his money.
In the Victorian era, many Victorians had the same attitudes as Scrooge to the poor. Victorian Britain saw a huge increase in the population. Thousands of skilled and unskilled people started looking for work. For many of those who were employed, their wages were hardly enough. Often fifteen-twenty people were living in one house.
Scrooge had no feelings for Christmas. Christmas to Scrooge was an excuse for the people not to go to their work and to celebrate. Scrooge seemed to have no feelings about Christmas and he avoided all emotions about Christmas. Scrooge responded to his nephew with saying that “What else can I be, 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?” he doesn’t want anybody to be happy about Christmas. Scrooge stated “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 was mean to everyone even with his long time employee, Bob Cratchit. The fire in his room looked like one coal. However Bob Cratchit was still polite to Scrooge. He always thanked Scrooge for the job as the pay given to him supported his family. Scrooge always kept the door of his counting room open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk. When his employer asked for a day off, Scrooge responded to him saying “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work” Dickens creates humour when the clerk observed that it was only once a year. Bob Cratchit was feeling very excited about Christmas. He went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys twenty times, in honour of Christmas Eve.
Scrooge’s behavior is the opposite of the teachings of Christianity, which teaches that people should be sharing, loving and helpful. Scrooge’s nephew is presented as a very happy and kind person. He was the only person in the story who offered Scrooge anything. His nephew invites him to a Christmas dinner but Scrooge refuses to go. Scrooge’s nephew thinks that Scrooge does not really mean when he says “Humbug!” no matter how many times he says it. Scrooge’s nephew says “Christmas a humbug uncle! You don’t mean that I am sure?”
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Scrooge’s attitude to the poor and to charity was very mean. He neglected the poor. He questions the “portly” gentlemen, “Are there no prisons, Union workhouses? The Treadmill and the Poor are in full vigor?” Scrooge thinks that workhouses are appropriate for the poor. He loved his money more than anything. It was Christmas Eve and Christmas is the time to donate generously and help those who are not fortunate but Scrooge refuses to donate money when the charity collector comes to collect. Scrooge says “charity is not my business.” Even though Scrooge has more than enough to generously donate, he refuses to donate saying that he has paid enough in taxes.
Scrooge lived in chambers which had once belonged to his partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard. The description of Scrooge’s house and office add to the feeling of gloom around him that Dickens creates. Even though he lives in Marley’s house but he has never thought of Marley for seven-nine years.
People had a negative view on Scrooge because of his attitudes and in return they showed no feelings for Scrooge “Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say with gladsome looks ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?’ “. Everyone in the society thought that he was mean and everyone tried to avoid him. Even the animals didn’t like him “Even the blind men’s dog appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts”. I suppose Dickens is showing here that people will treat you the way you treat them.
Dickens has described a very negative character in Scrooge in the opening chapter of “A Christmas Carol”. He represented Scrooge as a very mean person in the story but later on Scrooge transforms into a kind and generous person. Dickens wanted to teach us how to be happy. If person just talks to people they must and behave badly with other people, he can never be truly happy. He wanted to teach us that it is more important to be kind than to be mean and to give rather than take.
I think that Dickens has been successful in getting across the character of Scrooge because after reading Stave One of the story I want to know more that what happens in the end. Does he become a good person or does he remain the same mean person throughout the whole story? It is because of the way Dickens describes Scrooge and his use of metaphors, similes and lists-like formats which builds up an image of Scrooge in our mind and make us want to know more about the story.
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