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Dickens' Use Of The Supernatural In A Christmas Carol

3729 words - 15 pages

Dickens' Use of the Supernatural in A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is built upon numerous contrasts: rich and poor,
family and loneliness, generosity and miserliness, affection and
cruelty, past, present and future. Most of these contrasting forces
are brought to light within the character of Scrooge himself. The
compulsive, lonely, miserly man, who eats his abstemious meals in the
shadows, emerges from his cold-heartedness into a generous, fun
loving, warm and caring man. Dickens uses a lot of rich contrasting
imagery within the character Scrooge to prepare the reader for his
conversion well before the concluding chapter.

Though there are many elements that led to Charles Dickens writing a
Christmas Carol, for example the Ragged Schools, the Manchester
athenaeum and Dickens' first-hand experiences with industrialism and
prison on his recent American tour, I feel that the single most
important and influential factor lay in Dickens observations of the
suffering, deep in the heart of London's poor, that children were
being seduced to. It has been said by many at the time that sex was
the only affordable pleasure for the poor, the result of course was
thousands of children living in unimaginable poverty, filth and
disease. Dickens' felt that the only answer to breaking the endless
cycle of poverty was education and so he became interested in Ragged
Schools. Ragged schools were free to attend and run through charity,
this gave even the poorest of children a glimpse of hope to break the
cycle. Despite the availability of these schools, a lot of poor
children did not benefit due to the demand for child labour and apathy
of parents.

Dickens introduces children like those that he saw in a Christmas
Carol through the allegorical twin, ignorance and want. The ghost of
Christmas present presents them, wretched and almost animal like, to
scrooge with the warning "this boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.
Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware
of this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is doom, unless
the writing be erased." These children are grimy and thin, the kind of
children Scrooge would walk past on the street without a second
thought. They are shown to him in such an appalling manor that Scrooge
begs to help them, "have they no refuge or resource?" and he is
reminded of the coldness of his words earlier in the story. They are
shown to him I believe because, like he would be after his death, he
is powerless to help them and this causes outstanding amounts of guilt
to whelm up within Scrooge. I also believe the twins had another
message, though this time not for Scrooge. Dickens wanted to make all
the readers of A Christmas Carol, the warm and tender Christmas
novella, aware of the fact that it was based on the poor and starving,

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