A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This story takes place in London, England. The time is winter and it starts the day before Christmas, also known as Christmas Eve. The settings of the book include Scrooge’s Counting House, Scrooge’s Home, Bob Cratchit’s home, assorted places throughout Scrooges childhood like the schoolhouse and the Fizziwig’s place where Scrooge was an apprentice, this is where a Christmas party took place and he met the one love of his life. Then it skips to Scrooge’s love of his life when she is married and they speaks about Scrooge and how he is now in a world of his money. Also, it shows the exchange, homeless people under a bridge, and a cemetery.
The four main characters in the book are Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, Fred. First, let’s examine Ebenezer Scrooge since he is the main character of the story, All 3 ghosts visit him. Through him, the lesson of the story is to be learned. In the book, he is made out to be Anti-Christmas and he is constantly commented about by characters in the book, some feeling pity, others feeling hostility.
“External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he…Nobody ever stopped in the street to say, with gladsome looks, ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?’. No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.” (Dickens 14).
Next, there is Tiny Tim, he seems to be a symbol of hope in this story even though he has to use a crutch to walk and he is very small. Despite his disability, he constantly keeps the spirit up and tries to maintain it in all his brothers, sisters, and parents, even though they are poor. He is the epitome of the Christmas spirit, that which should inhibit all of us. ” He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember, upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” (125). This quote just shows how thoughtful he is, and how much he cares for others.
Tiny Tim’s father Bob Cratchit is next on my list. He is an employee of Scrooge and he is the only one in the Cratchit family to thank him genuinely for the job and the pay that he has given him to support his family and keep food in their stomachs. “…and in came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of comforter, exclusive on the fringe, hanging down before him, and his threadbare clothes all darned up to look seasonable, and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder.”(121). The father’s love for his family bleed through the fact that they are poor and Scrooge sees this in the way they act.
The last but not least major character is Scrooge’s nephew, Fred. He seems to be the only individual who comes to converse with Scrooge and offer him anything. In this case, Fred offered him an invitation to his house for Christmas dinner. Fred is convinced at the beginning of the story that Scrooge doesn’t really mean “Bah!…Humbug!” (18) no matter how many times he says it. Fred is presented cheerful and in high spirits. “He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.” (18). As I said before, Fred is one of the few that feels pity for Scrooge.
The book starts off talking about Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s former business partner. It basically says that he “was dead as a door-nail” (11). Then it moves to Scrooges counting-house where he converses with Fred. Then two men come in to ask for a donation and Scrooge shoos them away quickly enough. Then Bob Cratchit come in for a days work and Scrooge is stingy about putting coal on the fire. At this point in the book, Scrooge is not made out to be a nice, caring, giving man. When Scrooge goes home, he is confronted by the ghost of Marley who tells him that he will be haunted by three spirits over the course of the next three days, each at One O’clock. The first spirit that comes is the Ghost of Christmas Past. This spirit takes Scrooge back to his childhood where he sees a very lonely boy engulfed in his books without a friend. Then they skip ahead in time and see when Scrooge was an apprentice to Mr Fizziwig. This episode shows the Christmas party that Old Fizziwig threw and here is where he met the love of his life. Once again the ghost skips ahead to a time when Scrooge and the woman are speaking. She says that she has been replaced by a golden idol and there is not any room for her anymore. After this, the first Ghost leaves. The next ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present as come to show him how his hostility toward others affect the way people live. The majority of the trip takes place at the Cratchits home. Here, Scrooge sees Tiny Tim’s hope and the togetherness of the family. I personally think this scene is one of the most important in convincing Scrooge to change. Then Scrooge is transported to his nephew Fred’s house where he is having his Christmas party. He then sees that even his nephew mocks him. Then the ghost takes him to what would be considered the bad part of town, under a bridge. There he sees a truly poor family, this one without a home. Even here the family stays together and refuses to be broken up, despite their disposition. The Ghost of Christmas Present leaves and then he encounters the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. This ghost is very mysterious, never talking. It merely points with it’s long, narrow fingers. The scene again is the Cratchits, this time sorrow instead of joy. Tiny Tim has died and the family mourns his passing. Bob just returned from the cemetery and comments about how beautiful it is. Next, the ghost shows how the people of the town react to a man’s death. No one seems to care about the loss of this wretched human being. Even some people steal his belongings out from under his dead body in his own bed. Scrooge does not realize they are all talking about him until the ghost takes him to the cemetery when Scrooge sees his own gravestone. From this point on Scrooge begs the ghost to let him change his lifestyle and try to change it for the better. When Scrooge wakes up he realizes that it is Christmas Day. He starts his new life of goodwill by buying a prize goose for the Cratchits. Then he makes a donation to the men that he shooed away the day before and he joins his nephew Fred for his Christmas dinner and Tiny Tim lives!
The first ghost, The Ghost of Christmas Past – This apparition comes to Scrooge to show him where his pain is coming from and when he turned his life toward the direction of money. The spirit was “…like a child; yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportion. Its hair…was white, as if with age; and yet the face had not wrinkled…It wore a tunic of purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful.” (63).
The second ghost, The Ghost of Christmas Present- This ghost shows how Scrooge’s lifestyle has affected the people who he has contact with. Every man and woman that knows him or knows of him have a set idea of him. A mean, old, stickler. The spirit was “…clothed in one simple, deep-green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur.”(107). He had a holly wreath, a scabbard without a sword, and dark-brown curls. The third ghost, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come- This third ghost was very mysterious, Scrooge made most of the conclusions during this time himself, although very self-explanatory. I personally think that this apparition carried the most weight in changing Scrooge. It made him greatly sorry for the sinful behaviour of his past and vowed to change his life. Not much was said about the spirit except that it was dressed darkly and did not speak, only pointed.
The message that Dickens is trying to get across is one of happiness. If you live your life in seclusion, only speaking to those who you must and always being nasty, you can never be truly happy. Dickens uses Scrooge as the epitome of selfishness and we are supposed to realize this and contrast it with Tiny Tim’s attitude of caring and sharing. He is the epitome of joy and hope. He is the person in the book with who we are supposed to learn from. The ghost are the conduit from which we are to understand the past, present, and future of an unhappy man.
Life in the 1800s was one of simplicity, everyone seemed to know each other in their area. People lived and worked in their neighbourhood, which brought a greater sense of community and family values. Some Christmas customs were hanging candles from a tree instead of ornaments. Holidays always seemed to be a gathering of people to celebrate the occasion. The dress in the time period seemed to be top hats, slacks, vest, and a coat. From the movie that we watched, the style seemed very formal. When speaking to another person, it was speaking in proper English, never a ‘Yo’ or a ‘Whaz up’. This is because of the period and the slang we use now had developed with our generation. Although very different, it is very, much alike. A Christmas Carol was a very good book and a lesson to be learned by all, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God Bless Us, everyone” (130)!