Who or what is responsible for Scrooge’s change of character in ‘A Christmas Carol’, and what techniques does Dickens use to show this change?
Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843. He came from a poor background. When he was twelve years of age, his father was taken to Marshalsea debtor’s prison, which was a prison for people in major debt. As a result of this Dickens had to work at a very young age. He was the second of eight children and so he was sent to get a job. He got a job at a blacking factory. He had to work in a place with boot polish, this meant he did not get paid much and had to work long hours.
Life for the poor was very terrible in the 19th Century in London. The well off people made it worse, as they did not care. They thought that it was their own fault they were in that state; the poor brought it on themselves.
Dickens was born on the 7th of February 1812, in Portsmouth. His poor background made him realize he had to help. He believed he had to raise awareness of how poor people were treated. So, he did this by writing a book about what his unprivileged childhood life was like, ‘A Christmas Carol’.
I think Scrooges experience’s with the ghosts are responsible for his change of character. Before he met the Spirits, he was an ungrateful, tight fisted man who was selfish and had prejudices against the poor. He had a bad temper and thought he was above everyone else which made him unfriendly. This made people uncomfortable and scared of him. He was clearly unaware of this as the Ghosts showed him what he is really like, and what everyone really thinks of him. He is shown the past, present and future before he realizes it will be better for him and other people for him to change. I know this as Dickens writes from Scrooges only friend who dies, Jacob Marley ‘I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate’. This means he is trying to tell Scrooge to change himself before it is too late.
‘Escaping my fate’ tells the reader that Scrooge could end up as a ghost (dead), cursed to wander the earth but being unable to help those in need if he does not become more loving.
Before Scrooge is visited by anyone, he is an ignorant, selfish and tight-fisted man. He is prejudiced against the poor and hates Christmas. He believes no one has the right to be happy if they are poor, ‘what right have you to be merry? You’re poor enough’ however, he is not happy either.
When Marley’s ghost appears, Dickens’ varies the length of the sentences. This is to show the build up of the fear and tension from Scrooge towards Marley. Scrooge’s short replies also show hesitation. I can tell this because he says ‘Do it then’, ‘I don’t’ and ‘I do. I must’. As Scrooge gets used to the presence of the ghost, he asks more questions and becomes more aware of whom Marley was as a person, and of what his purpose is as a ghost. Dickens writes why Marley is covered in chains, ‘I wear the chain I forged in life’. This conveys that he knows he deserves to wear it. Marley also says ‘I made it’ and ‘of my own free will I wore it’, which in addition shows he knows what he made it.
Marley is one reason why Scrooge has a change of character. He makes Scrooge think about what he has done when Jacob Marley says ‘In life I was your partner’. It is directed to Scrooge to make him think about how they are connected as ‘partners’.
Another reason Scrooge has a major change of character is because of the three ghosts that follow after Marley and come to see him; the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to come.
The Christmas Past spirit shows him what he has done what he has done to in the past to make him a melancholy man in his present. It is to show him the error of his ways so he knows why he is not a much liked man, hoping to change him. ‘Your welfare!’ shows that the ghost is giving short and to-the-point answers about what is wrong. He takes Scrooge back to his childhood when he was neglected as a child, which making him in a nostalgic mood, ‘I was bred in this place. I was a boy here’. This conveys he was happy as well as surprised to be there, as he sees himself as a lonely boy. It reminds him of what it is like to be lonely at Christmas time.
The Ghost of the Christmas Past takes Scrooge to his old job where he was apprenticed as a young man. At this memory, he is presented the Christmas party that his boss Fezziwig held on Christmas Eve. I think the Spirit takes him there to show what his boss did for his employees. It should show Scrooge how easy it is to make someone happy, ‘he has the power to render us happy or unhappy’, as does Scrooge, this conveys that Scrooge is in the same position now that Fezziwig was in then, and Fezziwig chose to make everyone happy, although it cost him some money. Scrooge realizes that what he said to his nephew earlier was completely out of order; he said ‘what right do you have to be merry? You’re poor enough’. He now knows that you do not need money to be happy and what he said was wrong as he is rich and is still not happy. The Ghost says ‘A small matter… to make these silly folks so full of gratitude’, which means it is so easy to make someone happy.
The next place Scrooge is taken by the Spirit is to a time when he had just had a changed personality, from poor to rich, he is more stuck up and tight with money. The Spirit shows him when his ‘fiancée’ breaks up with him because of this change. She says ‘I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one’, which I believe means that he is becoming hopeless with the riches he is getting. The young Scrooge thinks he is the same person, ‘I have grown so much wiser… I am not changed towards you’, which conveys he thinks he is more clever, yet has the same personality.
His ‘changed nature’ tells Belle they should not be together any longer; she says ‘Our contract is an old one; and ‘happiness when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that we are two… I have thought of it and can release you’. Scrooge is distressed after being reminded why Scrooge broke his heart, ‘why do you delight to torture me?’, ‘No more. I don’t wish to see it. Show me no more’. This shows he is uncomfortable with what he has just seen.
However, the Ghost of the Christmas Past shows him one final thing, Belle, her husband and her children at Christmas. I think the Spirit takes him to that moment to show him what he could have had, how happy he could have been and how he could make others happy and that is what the Spirit does. Scrooge goes in to deep thought, ‘I wouldn’t for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided hair’ and ‘I should’ve like, I do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet been a man enough to know its value’. This tells us he is extremely regretful towards the path he decided to take, which was because of his tight fisted and selfish self. Lastly, he hears her husband talking about how he saw lonely Scrooge in his work office. Hearing this, he feels really upset and wants to go home immediately.
The Ghost of the Christmas Past makes Ebenezer Scrooge realize what a bad person he is, he realizes how selfishness cannot get you anywhere. As a result of this he felt sorry for himself, vulnerable and he knows he has made mistakes.
The Second of the three Spirits comes to show Scrooge what is happening at Christmas time in the present. However, Scrooge is ready for the Phantom before he comes so he can be on top of things and this shows that Scrooge is ready for a change. Before the Ghost appears Scrooges room is transformed in to a Christmas party. Then the Ghost is ready and waiting for him. The first place the Ghost of the Christmas Present takes Scrooge is to the houses to show how Christmas spirit is affecting everyone. ‘Full of glee’ shows the happiness, which Scrooge now knows is a good thing to see people happy.
Next, they go to the Grocers where they see how everyone is getting along, as it is Christmas time ‘it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day’, this tells us, and Scrooge that Christmas is a time to forgive and forget.
After that, Scrooge is taken to his clerk, Bob Cratchits house. He gets to see how Cratchit managing on the ‘fifteen ‘Bob’ a-week’ he gets, paid my himself. The Cratchit family are very poor and consist of Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit and their five children, which included their full time working daughter Martha and ill Tiny Tim. Martha comes home for Christmas and this completed the Cratchits festive day. They are all appreciative for what they have, even though it is not much at all, ‘feebly cried Hurrah’ shows the gratefulness towards Mrs. Cratchit and her cooking. ‘Nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family’ tells us that they understand what situation they are in and do not question it. Ill Tiny Tin thinks he is very nearly better, though Bob Cratchit knows it is the complete opposite, ‘wished to keep him by his side and dreaded that he might be taken from him’ conveys he is worried and knows of the issue which is due to not having enough money. This informs Scrooge he cam make things better, he is responsible for other peoples lives as well as his own. He wants reassurance that Tiny Tim will definitely live, ‘tell me if Tiny Tim will live’, shows a caring side of Scrooge.
Bob Cratchit looks up to him – ‘the founder of the feast’. This presents he is grateful for the little amount that he receives. However, his wife completely disagrees with this, she hates him as he is the reason why there is a possibility that they will lose their son forever – he supplies their money. ‘Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name casts a dark shadow over the party’, this shows again that the Cratchit family is not a fan of Scrooges. But they only need each other to be happy. This tells Scrooge that he does not need money to be happy, he needs love and support. He is more caring than he was before as earlier he said ‘if he be likely to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population’ which in short, means ‘Good, hurry up and do it’. Now, he is concerned and I know this as, ‘he had his eye upon them, especially on Tiny Tim’. This shows he has changed from heartless to caring. He has feelings.
He is then taken to a place where Miners live, which was like a ‘burial-place of giants’. This is where they celebrate Christmas, they are grateful and are enjoying themselves none the less. There are generations of families living in a bad state; however they have each other and are cheerful. Scrooge gets brought here so he can know that he is privileged to have a roof over his head, he needs to realize how lucky he is that he has a lot, and he does. The Ghost only brought him there quickly to show how happy the miners are.
Again, the Spirit moves on in a hurry. The next stop was Scrooges nephews’ house, where they were enjoying themselves, even whilst they were talking about their ‘Uncle Scrooge’ and how much of a vile man he is. Although his nephew knows he is tight-fisted and unemotional, he still thinks he is a good man, and Scrooge hears this from him, ‘not so pleasant as he might be… his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing to say against him’ which means fait will show how Scrooge will be treated because of his actions, so his nephew had nothing against him. ‘His wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it’, this shows that he understands that Scrooge’s money means nothing really. ‘I am sorry for him’, this presents that Scrooges nephew is a very good hearted person, and he still likes his stubborn, selfish uncle Scrooge. The consequence of his actions is that he loses out on fine memories, which are good for everyone, ‘he loses some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm’. He needs close friends to make his ‘pleasant moments’- ‘he loses pleasanter companions’. The Ghost shows with to Scrooge as a hint he should make his friends and excellent memories to look back on. He sees love and affection between his niece and his wife, which makes him feel lonely.
Seeing how his nephew spends Christmas compared to the way he does, he realizes that love does not cost anything. He sees everyone happy even when they are talking bad, ‘there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humor’ which tells us Scrooge needs to be contaminated with laughter and good-humor. His nephew and niece play a game where they had to guess who was being described. A savage animal that growled and grunted was described, and guessed by the nephew – it was Scrooge. This tells Scrooge what other people see him as, and what he needs to change. However, they still wish the best for him which shows they love their ‘enemies’.
The next people he is introduced to are Want and Ignorance, who are ‘yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish’, they are children of ‘Man’. Their names are personification. I think they are called ‘Want’ and ‘ignorance’ because that is what many people (such as Scrooge) love. The appearances of them show how ugly and hideous wanting and ignorant people really are.
Finally, Scrooge is visited by the fourth and final Spirit, the Ghost of the Christmas future. Although, he had seen and spent time with other Phantoms, he was still scared of this ‘tall and stately’ ghost. I know this as ‘his legs trembled beneath him’. Dickens has used onomatopoeia when he says ‘trembled’ as this gives more emphasis on Scrooges feelings towards the final ghost. The Ghost seems scarier than the other three ghosts as he is not a person; he is more of a hooded shadow. The Ghost does not speak, he only leads. The first place Scrooge was directed to was a funeral of a very disliked man.
The people who attended this funeral were not very remorseful, they were laughing about the situation. These business men were only worried about where Scrooges’ money. These business men were only worried about where Scrooges’ money was going, ‘what has he done with his money?’ and ‘I thought he’d never die’ show the carelessness and selfishness of the business men, that is all they were to him, not friends, ‘strictly business’. I think they had the same attitude as the old, unchanged Scrooge had. This tells Scrooge that to them money is more important than life, so he wants to change that. At first, he believed that it was the death of Jacob Marley, however it is the future, not the past. This makes him think that whoever has dies, he knows he is being shown this ‘for his own improvement’. He really believes he can change, ‘treasure up every word, every word he heard, and everything he saw’, this presents he is really trying to change himself for the better.
They then progress the evening on to the people who found out about the dead man, they took his belongings and laughed about it. ‘Why wasn’t he natural in his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody to look after him when he was struck with Death’ said the woman, which means if he loved, people would love back, then there would be someone who could help him with any problems or difficulties.
They give out his belongings and one woman receives bed-curtains. ‘You don’t mean to say you took ’em down, rings and all, with him lying there?’ which shows shock, and how little respect they had for him. Scrooge listens in horror and was disgusted by what he was hearing. This is when he realizes that they have been talking about him, the dead man was him, ‘the case of this unhappy man might be my own’.
The scene changes once again and they were now in a room with a ‘bare, un-curtained bed’. Scrooge did not realize where he was as the room was ‘too dark to be observed with any accuracy’. When he knew that there was something in that room, he wanted to know what it was. He was worried about what he might find, ‘the motion of a finger upon Scrooges part, would have disclosed the face…felt how easy it would be to do’, this conveys that he is intrigued. He is scared but has learnt his lesson, ‘a fearful place. In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson. However, the Ghost believed he should know who the body belongs to. I think this is so it has more of an impact on Scrooge who is learning. ‘Pointed with an unmoved finger to the head’, but Scrooge cannot do anything about that. So they move on to ‘any person in the town, who feels emotion caused by this mans death’, who are a mother and a child. These are the people that feel emotion caused by this mans death. The mother and child are waiting for some news; this news will affect their lives, whether it is good new or bad news. ‘We are quite ruined?’ and ‘To whom will our debt be transferred’ show that it is related to their money problems. When Scrooge said ’emotion’, he did not say which type of emotion, so the Ghost presents him with pleasant, ‘we may sleep tonight with light hearts’ conveys relief. . Dickens uses a play on words as emotion can be happy or sad, angry or relieved.
As they travelled to the next place, Scrooge looked for himself, paying his respects. Nonetheless he was nowhere to be seen. They come to Bob Cratchits house once again. When he had come here with the Ghost of Christmas Present, he felt guilty the most out of all the placed he had visited. This conveys he is changing as he now feels for people.
At the Cratchits household, everyone who are usually ‘noisy little Cratchits’ are very quiet, this shows oddness. There is tension which Scrooge picks up on. ‘He was light to carry’ shows what was in the past, this could mean that Tiny Tim is not light to carry any more, or maybe he is not around to be carried. Scrooge feels responsible for this as he know he has the power to make it better, to change what has happened – Tiny Tim’s death. Scrooges nephew is a gentleman, especially towards the Cratchits, he is seen as the ‘pleasantest-spoken gentleman you have ever heard’ and he is as he does what Scrooge should have done a long time ago. He offered to help, ‘if I can be of service to you in any way’, and the Cratchits are grateful for what they needed before.
Scrooge knows that is how he should be, although he is still not definite about whom the uncared for, dead person is. This soon is cleared up. He is showed a grave, on which it says Ebenezer Scrooge. It then hits him how much he has changed through out the journey with the Ghosts and how much power he has to change peoples lives. He pleads that the end result is not what he has presented in front of him, ‘I am not the man I was… I yet may change these shadows, you have shown me, by an altered life’. He tries his hardest to make sure that the grave will exist in the near future, ‘The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach me’, this conveys that he will never change back the Christmas hating Scrooge, he will appreciate life and Christmas as it comes. At that the Phantom did his job and left. He taught him that he has a lot of responsibilities and more power than he thinks, he is responsible for other people’s lives as well as his own.
He has a sudden change of personality when the Ghost disappears. He is extremely happy, which shows he is already acting and feeling different, ‘I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel’. As a result of this happiness, he spreads it with everyone else. ‘Hello, my fine fellow!’, this shows the new friendly and merry side of Scrooge. He says how his feelings are similar to an angel- ‘as happy as an angel’. This shows similarity as it is a simile, he feels relieved as all the weight of unhappiness has gone, ‘light as a feather’ shows he is comparing how relieved he is. ‘As merry as a school boy’ tell us that he is happy like a school boy (young and no responsibilities). When he says he is ‘as giddy as a drunken man’ he means that he has the mind of a drunk, no cares for anything, jus being happy. ‘Hallo!’ shows the excitement that Scrooge has towards his changed self. He asks a favor to show his generosity. He pays a young boy and buys a massive turkey for the Cratchits. This conveys a massive difference in personality. He even gives Bob a salary raise. This shows that he has had a completely change of heart, more generous, loving and understanding. This results in Tiny Tim surviving. Scrooge has changed and makes good use of the power he has.
There is a big change in the weather as well. Before, it was dull, cold, bleak and foggy, which matched his personality. Now it is filled with golden sunlight, brightness with clear skies, which also matches his personality as he feels that sunlight has shone over his life.
He also spends that Christmas with his family who are happy to forgive and forget the past, enjoy the past and look towards the future. Scrooge has realized that thanks to the Ghosts, he is more appreciative of the family he has.
At the beginning of ‘A Christmas Carol’, Scrooge is a heartless, selfish and unkind person. He hates children, Christmas and happiness. His nephew is poor and happy, whereas he is rich and lonely. He changes and learns throughout his experiences. The Ghost of the Past shows him what he used to be like, back in the day, what went wrong and how he ended up with this horrific personality and loneliness.
The Ghost of the Christmas Present shows him how everyone else is celebrating. This tells him he does not need money to be happy. It also shows him what other people think of him. Another thing he finds out is that he has a lot more power and responsibility than just him. He has the power to make other peoples lives a lot easier, and the responsibility to make sure they have enough resources to live off. When he finds out that he is a disliked and hated person in that society. He feels hurt and realizes he needs to change in order to make friends and have people around him. He also finds out that no-one needs money to be happy and loved, including him.
The Ghost of the Christmas Future shows Scrooge what will happen if he does not change his ways of life. That is when he knew if he did not change, he would be a murderous lonely old man, who killed a little boy. He also finds out that if he does see a necessity to change the way he is, he will die a murderous lonely old man, who no one cares about. This teaches him that he is responsible for other people’s lives, which means if he alters his personality, he changes other people and the way they live.
Dickens has used guilt and regret to change Scrooge for the better; this is affective as it shows that he does empathize for other people. As a result, he is a changed man because he has started to value his life, value other people and think of the consequences of his actions.
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